There are few places better to learn about the care Thoroughbred racehorses receive than a veterinary clinic. Hagyard Equine Medical Institute is a historical and very successful operation located in Lexington, KY. This clinic offers tours that allow horse lovers to learn all about the inner workings of such a place.
The Champions of the Track team took a tour in January of 2020 and were in awe throughout our tour. We left feeling that everyone who has an interest in horse racing should take the time to visit.
When we first arrived for our tour, we were greeted by our guide who stamped our Horse Country booklet. She will happily give you one if you don’t have one prior to this tour. We were then directed to a gorgeous Horse Country room filled with historical veterinary equipment, vintage copies of BloodHorse, and photos from the institute’s formative years.
Our guide did a wonderful job of explaining Hagyard’s beginning, going through everything from Dr. E.T. Hagyard’s original trek to Kentucky to treat a cherished shorthorn bull in 1875 to the expansion of the institute’s campus many decades later. We ended our time in the room with a video that showed the process of a mare giving birth and then were led outside to begin our tour of campus.
For those of you like our team who have not seen all of the equipment used to treat horses, you will be blown away during this tour. Our knowledgeable guide explained everything from the cranes used to lift horses under anesthesia to the Hyperbaric Oxygen Chamber that is used for things like post-op colics and radial nerve paralysis.
Our group was told about equine blood donors and shown some of Hagyard’s resident donors. The clinic is, of course, operating during the tours. This means visitors will get glimpses into some of what goes on at Hagyard. Our group saw a draft horse having his feet wrapped before surgery and yearlings being led from one building to another. You will also be likely to see some horses resting in their stalls, recovering after operations or simply being kept under the watchful eyes of Hagyard’s many employees. Perhaps the most interesting part of the tour was things like bone chips that have been removed from prior patients. It was fascinating to see the things you often hear about in person.
It is important to note that this tour has a lot of outdoor walking, so be sure to dress for the weather and wear good walking shoes! We did not feel at all rushed during our visit to Hagyard and our guide was kind enough to answer any questions that a participant on the tour had.
All in all, our experience touring Hagyard Equine Medical Institute was a very positive one. We learned so much about the treatments these horses undergo. Every member of the staff that we came across were very kind and welcoming to our group. It is certainly an experience we recommend to anyone who is looking to learn more about equine medicine.
[Video: Take a look at a night shift at Hagyard Equine Medical Institute]
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