By: Rachel Fladung, Animal Sciences | Hamilton, OH
The summer of 2014 was a summer I will never forget, and I would not have had such a wonderful experience without The Ohio State University. I heard of an internship with Peterson & Smith Equine Hospital through a friend at OSU, which began this opportunity of a lifetime. After applying and being accepted as a summer intern, I began planning for a summer living in Ocala, Florida, working 80 hours a week with horses- life couldn’t be any better, and I was ready for the challenges ahead.
I love horses- I have been involved in riding and the horse industry for almost 16 years, yet I questioned if I was able to work with horses professionally while also having my own horse as a therapeutic escape. Luckily, I was able to not only work at an equine reproductive facility, I was also able to see my own horse throughout the week and continue riding. This gave me the ability to see if I would enjoy horses as a job and as a therapy, and I learned so much about myself throughout this journey.
May through August. 6 days a week. 80+ hour work weeks. Night Shifts. On calls. Stallions, Mares, Geldings, foals, people, clients, coworkers, best friends, amazing memories. This is how my life was, waking up at 5:30 am to clean stalls, restock barns, feed, hay, and water. Watching the sunrise every morning, feeling the hot summer heat and sweat of hard work, and being around the animals that I love most while learning new things every day is what made me love this summer so much. While working, we would sing current pop hits, dance in the barn aisles before moving pregnant mares down to the trailers there to pick them up, help with mare checks and stallion collections, and handle the newborn and older foals that needed to be halter trained. We would yell throughout the single wide extra long trailer that 8 girls shared together at 3 am because a baby was coming within the next few minutes from one of the mares; we then would wake up at 5:30 in the morning to our poptarts and yet another day at work. Our rewards were Thursday donuts and going to the beach on Sundays when we finished work early, along with the countless hours spent talking to each other, the veterinarians, and breeding specialists for whom we worked.
I learned so much from this reproduction center that I now have an interest in Reproductive Physiology, and can correlate what I am learning in class to what I saw this summer; I learned that having my own horse and working with horses professionally is perfect for me, and that I appreciate my own horse more in that atmosphere. Gaining mentors and friends that I still talk to, people I can rely on if I ever needed them, and an experience that pre-vet students almost never get was incredible, and I would have never known about it had it not been for Ohio State. I am so thankful for everything I gained from this summer, and an internship not only teaches you about what you want to do professionally, but about what type of person you are, how you work best, and how to be confident in what you know you can do well. This internship with Peterson & Smith Equine Reproduction Center was the best thing I have ever done, and I wouldn’t change it for the world.