Thursday, January 19, 2017

Tacos in Texas

I was in Texas for this past weekend and I'm pretty sure I ate more than my weight in tacos. Breakfast tacos? Check. Lunch tacos? Obviously. Dinner tacos? Of course. I could live off of tacos!

Why can I not buy breakfast tacos here?

I was down for a Equine Wet Lab for veterinary students at Texas A&M with a fellow eventer (though way more badass at eventing than I am), PR. Holy smokes, they say everything is bigger in Texas and they aren't kidding! The veterinary school is massive. I come from an itty-bitty veterinary college with a class size of 56. The class size at Texas A&M is three times that (which most school are a lot bigger than mine) but our entire large animal hospital, small animal hospital and teaching school are in one building that can fill up half of just one of the many Texas veterinary school buildings. It was MASSIVE.

One of the many buildings that Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine has

(Unfortunately this post is not going to have many pics because we sadly weren't allowed to take any for liability reasons)

We arrived on Friday in Austin and drove to College Station. The lab was on Saturday and we got to participate in four labs of our choice (there were over 20 labs to choose from). I ended up in Endoscopy, Abdominal Exploratory, Lower Limb Surgery, and Mare Reproduction. They were all really awesome.

Endoscopy was done on the teaching hospital horses. While we didn't get to participate hands-on in this lab, it was still very interesting. Especially because the horse was so chill about passing the endoscope whereas Jetta had been fighting like a madwoman last week when she had her colic. Anyways, while we had seen pictures, as second year vet students we haven't gotten to do much "in real life" stuff. Plus we got to learn about a new disease (to us northerners) that we'd never heard about, but apparently very common in Texas, Louisiana and Southern California, called cicatrix. This horse even had a mild case of it - it's an inflammation and scarring of the nasopharynx. Apparently it can get bad enough that horses affected usually end up with a permanent tracheostomy and the cause is unknown, though there are multiple guesses as to what it could be (reaction to fertilizer used on pastures? fungus?). It was awesome to explore the guttural pouch on a live animal and then go down to the stomach.

This horse even had some mild pyloric ulcers which look very different from ulcers elsewhere in the stomach, being puffy and red versus actual depression (ulcerations) in the wall of the stomach, though they are also much more difficult to treat (requiring almost 3 times the length of treatment than other ulcers).

Next was abdominal exploratory where we got to work with a recently euthanized horse and work through what we'd do on a colic surgery, how to relieve a gas colic, work through the intestines in order and figure out where the pain is coming from (intusseption, strangulating lipoma, dead intestine, etc). It was fascinating and very cool to see what you can do - pulling the intestines out, sorting through them and then replacing them just how you found them so you can recover the horse who is now supposedly pain free. Very neat!

The lower limb surgery was also very cool - we got to practice neurectomies of the lateral and  medial palmar digital nerves for horses with navicular and heel pain, and cutting the distal check ligament for horses with contracted tendons and severe club feet, on cadaver legs. I can't imagine doing this procedure on a live, standing horse but it was very neat to actually do it in person versus just reading about it.

Cool mural because ponies

And finally mare repro. I always jump at the chance to do some reproduction work with horses because it is so difficult to get real life experience with horses. Horses are very delicate and you can easily tear or introduce infection, whereas cows are much more hardy so that is where I have all of my experience. We practiced on preserved reproductive tracts, but we got to practice taking a uterine biopsy and placing the AI pipette into the uterine horn. Additionally we practiced placing and removing Caslicks.

Overall an awesome day of learning and I hope to be able to go back next year. I have my eye on some other labs - Advanced Lameness, Rectal Palpation, Emergency & Critical Care and Necropsy. They have a lot more resources than we do, so it's a really great experience for us!

Almost bought this cute mug while out shopping

They had a student pub crawl that evening, but we went home relatively early and ended up watching too much Say Yes to the Dress (my guilty pleasure reality TV show of choice) that night and slept in wayyy too late the next morning so we got a pretty late start for the drive back to Austin. 

Once in Austin though, I got to meet up with Lauren! I failed at documenting, but it was so nice to get to meet one of my favorite bloggers in person. I apologize for being the most awkward conversationalist ever, but hopefully it wasn't too awful. She took us to the most amazing tacos - Torchy's tacos - that were definitely the best we had all trip (fried avocado tacos? sign me up!). I also would have taken a large container of queso back with me if I could have.

That afternoon we explored South Congress street then I got to meet up with some cousins I hadn't seen in years for dinner, then found some live music to round out the night! I definitely enjoyed Austin immensely, minus the fact that I got to experience my first tornado warning. No thank you. But it is such a neat town, I can't wait to go back and spend more time.

The next day we were supposed to go to Waco because we are also obsessed with the show Fixer Upper so we wanted to go to the Silo's, but we decided that three hours of driving round trip was a bit much, so we went to the Dover store instead and did a little more exploring of downtown. Dover was great because they had the shirt I've been drooling over for the past year on clearance and the only one they had was in my size! Plus I picked up some bran mash for Jetta since I don't want to buy a 50 lb bag of wheat bran just to make a couple mashes.

Overall, a fantastic horse-centric trip!


  1. Super cool but I wanted a photo of your clearance shirt. :)

    1. I was too lazy lol. I'll get one at some point!

  2. Oh please, you are not awkward! It was great to meet you and show you a little bit of Austin, even though I wish I wasn't so busy that weekend so I could have shown you more. That just means that you have to come back soon. :)

    1. Well good, I'm super shy so I can be very awkward lol. I might be down again next year so hopefully I can give you more of a heads-up!

  3. So fun! I worked at the vet school at Cornell and got to set these labs up for the students and it was so fun! Its so important to get the hands on experience, I agree! I love Austin (and Fixer Upper) and am glad you were able to get out tornado free!