Friday, 5 January 2018

Vicki Nicholls on her day volunteering at a BEVA Trust Education and Welfare Castration Clinic

I will admit, like most things in life, it’s easy to be skeptical about an experience before you have actually tried it. Don’t get me wrong, as BEVA senior vice president I have always supported the work done by the BEVA Trust but it wasn’t until I took part in a BHS Castration clinic that I realized what an amazing project this is.

So to give you some background, I have a pathological hatred of castrations. A bad experience early on in my career has literally scarred me for life. Of course I have done countless castrations since but my recent move to the University of Liverpool Veterinary Postgraduate Unit has left me a little “match unfit” in terms of practical skills wielding a scalpel. Notwithstanding that I volunteered on the premise of “doing dentistry”;  I haven’t really be doing a lot of that either recently thanks to the demands juggling BEVA commitments with the rest of my life. A frantic text flurry to a colleague the night before did little to reassure me that “it was just like riding a bike” …not least because I’m not very good at that either.

Therefore, It was with some degree of trepidation that I arrived at the Bakewell Livestock Auctioneers last week. Having hastily scrabbled together a reasonably looking professional kit to meet both the demands of the weather (including some borrowed waterproofs thanks Hannah) and any potential challenges posed by the day, I felt as ready as a new graduate on the first day of practice.

But I need not have worried. The entire Veterinary Team was brilliant in both camaraderie and support. The support team incredible, efficient and friendly and even the naughtiest patient restrained with the skill of an experienced RVN. The BHS and equine welfare charities actively recruit participants to the clinic; relief quickly replaced skepticism when well-known local offenders turned up for the first time. The owners were incredibly grateful and took the educational opportunities on board with relish. And making a difference to one horse’s mouth made it all worthwhile…whether the owner calls the BEVA member we recommended remains to be seen but at least the pony can eat comfortably now and the indiscriminate breeding of the “rescued” herd has been halted by widespread emasculation.

No one struggled, help was freely offered and there was a real sense of comradeship. We were all in it together for the welfare of the horse. The University of Liverpool veterinary students (and people like me needing a refresher) had the opportunity to see (and do) more castrations than ever possible in practice whilst making a difference, whatever tip of the iceberg may be. The local practices were hugely supportive and the entire day run under the professional yet sympathetic organization of Gemma Stanford of the BHS who later told me
 “It did feel like ‘Challenge Anneka’ at times as we all raced to beat the rain to passport, chip and worm 37 ponies and castrate 15 of them”…including a few too small to castrate standing.

We have now had 710 horses attend the BHS/BEVA Trust clinics and 328 of those horses have been castrated – all through the support of BEVA members giving up their time and expertise. That’s pretty Incredible! That one-day reignited my passion for the veterinary profession and the kindness that is within it.  I urge you to support the BEVA Trust like so many have already done and be proud of our equine veterinary profession.