William Woods University is known for having a strong reputation in the horse industry — for winning national championships and educating well trained, expertly prepared equestrian professionals. However, the development of their Center for Equine Medicine has given William Woods a step up in more than the equestrian world, but in the world of veterinary medicine as well.
This 17-acre property, which includes six horse-stalls, an indoor arena, and access to a full-time, in-residence veterinarian, gives pre-vet biology majors extraordinary access to hands-on experience in equine and veterinary medicine.
Since the Center was established, Dr. Paul Schiltz, who has provided medical care to William Woods’ horses for over 18 years and has experience in rehabilitation, sports medicine and general equine medicine, has been able to come on full-time as the university’s primary care veterinarian in residence, as well as an associate professor at William Woods.
“We’re in the process of revamping some of the basic care,” explained Dr. Schiltz. “Working with everything from stem cell cultures to parasite control in the horses.”
As we’ve mentioned in previous blog posts, getting into vet school is a very competitive process, and one highly regarded consideration in the acceptance process is the exposure a candidate has to various components of veterinary medicine.
“One of the things that vet schools look at are the number of hours [of experience], but they also assign value to those hours based on the quality,” said Schiltz. “The more of those varied hours you can get, the more attractive you are as an applicant.”
“And so another advantage to a program or a center like this is that we’re able to afford those high quality hours — actual hands-on learning as opposed to just observation.”
Though William Woods’ horses are highly prized show-winners, they require a high level of care, each with their own unique health needs. The herd is completely donated, and each horse comes with a past-life of its own.
“It’s fairly unusual for someone to donate a young, sound, well-trained horse,” Dr. Schiltz explained. “They do often times come with pre-existing conditions.”
Yet with these challenges and conditions come great opportunities, not only for impeccable equestrian training, but impeccable equestrian care.
“We have many horses here as part of the herd that are competitive on a national level. And so caring for them does require a higher standard,” he explained. “And so with that elevation of caliber of horse, it’s important that we’re able to elevate the caliber of our medicine and care as well.”
“Increasing our ability to care for them is going to allow them to perform at their highest level.”
Through the Center for Equine Medicine and the access to hand-on experience, William Woods’ pre-vet students are able to provide great horses with exceptional care, while preparing for their future in the field of veterinary medicine.