For the first time in my veterinary career, I missed class. It wasn’t for a convention, or a symposium, or a clinic; it wasn’t because I was sick, or had a wedding to go to, or any other normal reason to be missing out on our highly expensive education.
I missed class to go halfway across the country to show my horse.
I had been planning on attending this particular horse show for over a year – scrupulously saving and scrimping (even more than the average vet student does) to make sure we could afford to prepare adequately and then head to Oklahoma for the Grand National and World Championship Morgan Horse Show.
Initially, I had worried about getting the excused absence form filled out, as I would need signatures from all my professors and I would be missing 2 whole days of classes which included a few labs, and a bunch of lectures.
To my surprise and chagrin, my professors were pretty cool about it. Some were just as excited as I was, but even the least enthusiastic were willing to work with me to make sure I had all the resources I needed, or let me swap with classmates in other lab sections in order to make sure I wasn’t missing out on those experiences for which I absolutely needed to be present for. So one of my perceived biggest stumbling blocks crumbled away nearly immediately because of the awesome professors that I have.
Which leads me to this conclusion: YOLO.
I won’t get into the specifics, but I went to this horse show – a “bucket list” item of sorts as a Morgan enthusiast, missed a few days of classes, sure – but I met a network of really cool exhibitors from across the country. I got a break (sort of, I was definitely still studying in my downtime). And I was able to complete a goal of mine, and my horse and I claimed 2 Grand National Champion titles in the jumpers, a Grand National Reserve Champion title in the jumpers, and an 8th out of a massive field of 19 in the Sport Horse Under Saddle. Our champion and reserve champion Grand National titles combined to give us the World Champion Jumper High-Point title.
I came home with medals and ribbons, plaques, accolades and an overall unforgettable experience.
With 4th year looming in the not-so-distant future and who knows what post-graduation, being able to do this show ‘someday’ was becoming increasingly uncertain.
It is easy to let vet school consume every aspect of your life. But the truth is that you need to have a life outside the walls of the vet school; goals and hopes that don’t revolve around surgery and treatment plans. And you shouldn’t have to sideline those things just because you are in vet school.
Some things can’t wait until you’re out of vet school, or until you complete your internship, or until you finish your residency, or whatever other arbitrary deadline you kick down the pipeline. Sometimes you have to do those things you want to do, and do them now.
I’m ecstatic that I had such supportive professors to make this happen, but I’m more glad that I gave myself the permission to pursue this goal.
Life’s too short to push aside the things we love outside of veterinary medicine and I say if the opportunity presents itself, grab it and run.