By Spc. Bryan RandolphJuly 28, 2014
LOCKWOOD, Calif. - Soldiers from the 994th Medical Detachment, Veterinary Services, out of Round Rock, Texas, got experience with veterinary care for horses during Warrior Exercise (WAREX) 91 14-03 here, July 25.
To receive this valuable training, the Soldiers travelled to the nearby Redwings Horse Sanctuary in Lockwood.
"Today, we're mostly learning how to handle a horse safely in the field," said Capt. Cherise Neu, a field veterinarian, from Cypress, Texas, assigned to the 994th. "Our Soldiers might experience horses out in the field on deployments and here within the United States. They are expected to be able to hold a horse and restrain it for a veterinarian to examine it."
Despite the fact that this was a new experience for most of the Soldiers, they were eager to learn and picked it up quickly.
"The Soldiers did fantastic," said Sara Ruggerone, from San Luis Obispo, California, the executive director of Redwings Horse Sanctuary. "They handled the horses extremely well, and they were very receptive to all the information we provided."
When the Soldiers are deployed, the animals they encounter will be more than pets to the owners.
"Some need them for their livelihood," said Neu. "Those animals may need all sorts of care: wound care, health care, deworming, vaccination."
As a part of their training, the Soldiers also learned how to take a pulse, give vaccinations, draw blood and monitor sounds in the horses' stomach area.
"If they feel sick, since they can't actually tell us, we have to get them to tell us," said Spc. Martin Gonzalez, an animal care specialist with the 994th, from Fort Hood, Texas. "We try and give a voice to these animals."
Out of the entire U.S. military, only the Army has a Veterinary Corps. The importance of that fact is not lost on these Soldiers.
"The Army is the only branch of the military service that has an animal care field," said Gonzalez. "So, it's actually really important for us to go out to these types of missions, especially overseas."
In addition to beneficial training for Soldiers, the horse sanctuary, which exists solely on donations, benefited from the training.
"It's nice to have them here," said Ruggerone. "They are doing some work for us. They're helping vaccinate our entire herd."
Even though this benefits the horse sanctuary, the real benefit is the training the Soldiers received.