Where are you based and what is your daily routine?
I am based at Snarehill Stud where I have an examination room and all the kit necessary to do my job. I don’t have a daily routine as such. First thing in the morning I tend to review the most critical cases I am dealing with, but after that, every day is different. This, for me, is one of the main perks of being a vet here!
How many thoroughbreds do you oversee at Shadwell, and do you see to horses of all ages – foals, yearlings, 2yos, HiTs and stallions & broodmares?
The number of horses I oversee fluctuates during the season but it tends to remain between 100-130. The majority are horses in training, two year olds and yearlings. I also look after a few ex Shadwell racehorses who are living out their retirement on the farm.
There is clearly lots of variety in your role at Shadwell; what elements do you enjoy most?
I really enjoy investigating lameness until a precise diagnosis is obtained. I often have to make use of diagnostic analgesia, radiography and ultrasonography to achieve this. Getting to the bottom of certain lamenesses is not always straightforward, but I do love a challenge.
Once we know the exact issue a horse has, we can then work together to fix it and get the horse back to the track as soon as possible. The amazing team and the fantastic rehabilitation facilities we have at our disposal here allow us to achieve this in most horses.
Was it always your ambition to become a thoroughbred vet?
Not exactly. I have wanted to become an equine vet for a long time, but my interest in racing came later.
You were born in England, but raised in Spain. Where and how did your passion for thoroughbreds and racing develop?
My interest in Thoroughbred’s and racing started developing as a student, when I came to Newmarket to see practice. Almost immediately the industry had me hooked and that passion has only grown while working within it. I have now been a racing vet for most of my professional career and cannot imagine myself doing anything different.
How does Shadwell ensure it maintains the highest standards of care for its horses?
By having a fantastic and well trained team and by giving all horses a gold standard level of care. The possibility of working in the state of the art facilities we have here, is also paramount in achieving this.
What advice would you give to young people looking to pursue a career as a thoroughbred vet?
Don’t give up! Given most roles require a level of experience, getting a foot into the industry is almost the hardest part. It is important to remain positive and not lose hope. Something will come if you keep trying.
Having worked closely with so many of Shadwell’s horses, you must be able to give readers a couple to keep their eye on over the summer?
Minzaal is very exciting. He obviously had a fantastic juvenile season and then spent some time here over the winter and spring. He is a strong horse that really looks the part and I can’t wait to see him race again this year.
I am also looking forward to seeing Moshaawer progress. I really liked him while he was here. He has a fantastic action and covers a lot of ground with his stride. Even having missed the break, he still managed to win on his first start this season and progressed again to win well at Doncaster on Friday.
Do you have to keep maintaining your veterinary knowledge by studying new research advances and following disease outbreaks?
Definitely. In this profession it is crucial to keep up to date with new research and continue to learn. I am currently completing an online
two-year postgraduate Certificate in Equine Lameness, Diagnostics and Therapeutics with the University of Liverpool.
How difficult has it been in the last year to carry out veterinary work while maintaining social distancing and observing other lockdown rules?
I guess like with all professions initially there was a lot of uncertainty about what we could or not do. In theory, we were limited to only performing essential work and not routine jobs, but there were quite a few grey areas. The nature of the profession really makes social distancing difficult, so the use of face masks and correct hand hygiene was paramount.
Are there any specific cases in the past year where you are particularly proud that your veterinary intervention made a big difference (eg getting a crocked horse back to full health etc)?
It is hard to think of specifics because getting injured horses back to full health is what we aim to do here. It is very rewarding when horses that have been here with an issue go back into training as fit animals. Everyone in the yard gets a huge kick out of watching these athletes go on and win.
What would be your advice as a vet as to what we should look out for when we’re inspecting young untried horses (foals or yearlings) at the sales?
My recommendation would be to work alongside veterinarians when deciding to purchase a horse. Being able to localise subtle areas of heat or distention, assess correct function of the upper airway and perform and interpret radiographs when necessary are some of skills our profession can offer at a sale. Finding the horse that better suits your needs is much easier with all this information.
Finally, best recipe for paella?
That’s a well kept family secret! Just make sure not to stir it as the rice cooks and please, please, please don’t add chorizo. I know a few people that tick all of the wrong boxes when doing this!