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A Tradition of Leadership & Excellence in Equine Medicine

Giving Back

Giving Back

In October, Natasha McDonald had the opportunity to give back in a major way. Her work in the pharmacy department of Peterson and Smith Equine Hospital lead her to just the right connections to join Texas Equine Veterinary’s Association sponsored charity with FullBucket, the TEVA Equitarian Project.

This organization is designed to help give working equines in desolate areas free veterinary care and assistance to the community who rely on these animals for daily functions.

It was spring 2013 when Natasha first heard of FullBucket’s mission from a vendor representative and decided to contact Ron Franklin, FullBucket creator, for more information.  When she learned the trip for Guatemala in October had vacancy, Natasha knew she wanted to go.

“I guess, I went there when there’s moments I feel kind of lost, I thought it would really make me appreciate life,” she explained. “It would solidify those moments people say, ‘Your life over here isn’t that bad,’ and I figured I’d be in the middle of it and realize there’s so much to be thankful for.”

Natasha said her trip couldn't have been made possible without the generous companies that aided in this effort: MWI Veterinary Supply, Vétoquinol, Hoyes Pharmacy, Henry Schein Animal Health, CEVA, Boehringer-Ingelheim and Zoetis, and of course, Peterson and Smith Equine Hospital.

Having the support from these industry partners made the experience even more appreciative, Natasha said. As someone who was an avid English rider and horse lover, Natasha said why she wanted to help is simple and understandably felt by others in the animal care industry - to provide care and help those in need.

“I guess (it’s) the fact that knowing these equids have never had medical treatment,” she explained of her desire to help. “They’re 18-years-old and their feet and teeth have never been touched just because they don’t have the access to it. And I learned over there that the vets and farriers from Guatemala don’t have the knowledge. It’s hard for the people of Guatemala to get access for it. So just knowing that I could be there to help give shots or help do castrations - just simple procedures - I knew I was helping at least one horse; and we did 300 while we were there.”

During Natasha’s Guatemala trip, she was in the good company of nine other equine professionals: veterinarians, technicians, veterinary students, and farriers. The three make-shift clinics visited Itzapa, Tecpan and Santa Maria de Jesus where they performed wellness exams, castrations, wound care treatment, farrier work, dental procedures, fecal egg count, vaccinations, deworming, natural horsemanship, and veterinary care education for local vets and farriers.

Locals would travel for days to arrive at the nearest destination with their horses, mules and donkeys where all services were free.  The locations varied from a school soccer field to the center of town during a market, and crowds gathered to see the event.

Children were in abundance, Natasha recalled. She had been asked to bring coloring books and crayons and candy. If she wasn’t operating her posts, she was showing the kids what a selfie was and painting finger nails. It was seeing the extreme living conditions of this third-world country that had her realizing the need wasn’t just in the horses care, but in the people.

Without doubt, Natasha wants to return and continue participating with the TEVA Equitarian Project, and encourages others to learn more about it.

There is always more need of supplies and participants, education and providing care. It was hard work, though. They often would work for 12-hours a day, she said.

“We didn’t turn any horse away, so we stayed all day until the last horse was done,” Natasha said.

Peterson and Smith Equine Hospital is proud to have contributed to the TEVA project. We are equally grateful and proud to be partnered in the equine industry with companies that value care and provisions for animals, to have contributed their gracious support to this mission. 

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