There is a scene from Billy Madison that always comes to mind when I sit for an exam in vet school:
We’re in the midst of our Animal Husbandry Welfare and Food Safety Exams. If you’ve been following my adventures through the proverbial Vet School Looking Glass, you’ll know that horses and I don’t always get on so well. Usually, they make me look like a complete idiot. However, at the end of the day, I’ve still got my opposable thumbs and I’m not a giant prey animal who poops in my water dish and can die from a tummy ache, so I feel like I come out on top.
Well, today, my valiant equine opponent bested me once again….although, I can’t entirely blame her.
The exam was off to a good start. I was happily answering questions and smiling at my assigned horse Rita over the box. Her demeanor told me she wasn’t altogether against the idea of being my partner in showing off my equestrian panache… However, she wasn’t too keen on the idea, either. My hands trembled slightly applying her head collar, but I led her out of the stall with the confidence of someone who spent all Christmas break hand-walking Thoroughbreds. Rita was not so intimidating.
One of the first tasks I was asked to do for the grader was pick up Rita’s front and hind leg. I took a moment to remember if my hand should run along the inside or the outside of the leg and with confidence, smoothly lifted her front leg in one motion.
“Ummm are you sure you want to face that way?”
I looked up, right into the eyes of the instructor, her eyebrow cocked slightly.
I sheepishly put down the leg and said, “I should be facing her back end.”
The instructor nodded and told me I could give it another go. I turned 180 degrees and facing the horses hindquarters, lifted her leg again, this time with the blood pumping hot and loud in my ears.
I’m not sure if this one mistake cost me my pass on the handling exam or not. It certainly cost me my pride. I tried to find a picture online of a person picking up a horse leg while facing the front of the horse instead of the back of the horse, but I couldn’t find one. I guess I’m the only person on earth to ever do it….like in the history of horses.
Ah, nothing like a hot steamy mug of humility to keep your Tuesday morning in check.
The moral of the story: Parents, if your young daughters beg you for a pony, just get them a freaking pony! On the off chance they decide to go to vet school, they’ll really appreciate having some horse handling skills in their back pocket. Can you guess who asked for a pony when she was young and was told, “no,” over and over again? I’ll give you a hint, she’s all thumbs and absolute crap with horses.