I started veterinary school at what was then known as Colorado A&M in 1952. I had already acquired a Bachelor of Science degree in Arizona in 1951, but, primarily because I was not a resident of Colorado, I had already been rejected by Colorado as a veterinary student four times. My primary interest was equine practice, but I was told, the horse which had always been the primary veterinary patient, had become obsolete. The internal combustion engine had changed everything. Automobiles, trucks, and tractors had replaced the equine role.
If I wanted to do primarily equine practice, I was told, I should plan on the racetrack, or a cattle ranching area where the horse would continue to be needed.
I never questioned this advice. I knew that in only fifty years, the equine population in the U.S.A. had dropped from over 22 million to just over 2 million; down to 1/10 of its number at the beginning of the 20th century. I knew of no predictions that a resurgence of the horse population would occur, primarily as a recreational and companion animal.
Although I applied to all of the schools in the country, I really wanted to go to what was then known as Colorado A&M.
Because I wanted to spend my life in the Rockies. I am a mountain lover and was a passionate skier. I had worked at the racetrack in Tucson and was not interested in a racehorse practice. In Colorado, I knew that cattle ranching would endure and that meant horses.
It wasn’t until my third year in veterinary school that I changed my goals and decided that I wanted a mixed practice, to include horses. That goal was eventually achieved with a very mixed practice in California, including not only large and small domestic animals, but also an extensive zoo practice even including dolphins and whales. At the midpoint in my career, then at a six doctor group, I veered back to primarily large animal practice, ultimately in my final decade, doing over ninety percent equines.
Colorado A&M, which became C.S.U. the year I graduated, was a good choice for other reasons. It was still equine oriented. For example, in our anatomy course we dissected and studied the horse as our primary species. I learned that all other schools had switched to dogs. In our Junior year, in anatomy class, we studied six other species (comparative anatomy).
Also, horses were still abundant and important in Colorado, providing a lot of clinical experience.
In order to obtain a B.S. in The University College of Agriculture, with a major in Animal Husbandry, I had to take courses devoted to a variety of domestic species. The horse was included but, even though Tucson was the Quarter Horse Capital of the World when I attended the U. of A., horses did not receive much attention.
Today’s majors in Equine Science were not available. The AAEP was a Thoroughbred industry’s idea.
Want to know what motivated this article?
I just learned that 10 million dollars were donated as a gift to the new University of Arizona Veterinary School for the construction of an equine hospital.
My pre-veterinary Alma Mater! The school I attended and graduated from while I was rejected for four consecutive years by every veterinary school in the country.
How things have changed.
After I graduated The University of Arizona, I moved to Colorado, established legal residency, and that did it. At 25 years of age I was finally accepted into the school at Fort Collins, receiving my D.V.M. diploma in 1956.
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