About three months ago, I walked away from finals relieved that equine anatomy was now behind me. Boy, was I wrong!
Equine anatomy has been the bane of my existence in veterinary school. I’m sure I can speak for the majority of first-year veterinary students (with the exception of the horse fanatics) when I say it was one of the hardest sections of the anatomy course.
Horses are just extremely complex creatures. Their gastrointestinal and musculoskeletal systems practically gave me nightmares. OK, I’m exaggerating, but I did spend many sleepless nights trying to understand the stay apparatus and remember the number of taeniae on the dorsal or ventral colon. The only comfort I found was reminding myself that I would never become an equine vet.
Like I said, I was wrong.
The past several weeks I have been shadowing a local horse vet and may be reconsidering that decision. Now, I’m quite worried about my struggles with that section of the course.
On Monday, we had a horse come in for a lameness exam. I’m quite familiar with watching gaits for abnormalities in small animals but, as usual, it’s much more complex with horses. This gelding was off on his left hind with obvious effusion just above the fetlock. After the initial evaluation, the veterinarian pulled out his ultrasound and began to scan the area. I have only ever seen an ultrasound used on the abdomen or thorax and was surprised by how useful it is on legs.
The veterinarian kindly took the time to explain and outline the different structures within the limb, distal to the hock. I was a bit embarrassed that I had forgotten the names of the flexor tendons. Once he had begun to point them out on the screen, my brain started to work again. Within a few moments, we had isolated the injury. The poor fella had a tear in his annular ligament, leading to some pain and swelling. I was amazed that the doctor was able to isolate the exact point of the injury within the various structures of the limb.
Now that my pride has officially been hurt, I think it’s time to start reviewing some of last year’s material. Luckily for me, I have three more years to pack all of this knowledge into my brain. I hope by the end of my time in vet school I will have conquered equine anatomy.