All hands in horse: High-tech horse model for vet students

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An equine veterinary simulator being put together.
An equine veterinary simulator being put together.

An anatomically correct horse model to help veterinary students learn about colic and reproductive issues in horses will soon be in use at University of Guelph’s Ontario Veterinary College, thanks to a $50,000 donation.

The model opens to reveal anatomically correct latex organs that can be inflated to mimic colic, the leading cause of premature death in horses, and also certain reproductive challenges.

A donation from the Equine Foundation of Canada has enabled the purchase of the life-sized horse model from Canada’s Veterinary Simulator Industries.

The Equine Palpation Colic Simulator has a soft silicone head and palpable veins in the neck covered by a replaceable hide that can endure multiple punctures. A mechanical system allows the veins to be pressurised. A bridle can also be put on the simulator, which is modeled on a 15hh quarter horse.

It will allow student veterinarians to practice clinical and technical skills, vital to improving confidence and competence.

Equine Foundation of Canada secretary Nancy Kavanagh delivered a cheque for nearly $50,000 to OVC Dean Jeffrey Wichtel and Gayle Ecker, director of Equine Guelph, to buy the simulator.

When Foundation President R.J. (Bob) Watson contacted Wichtel for his wish-list, the VSI model was at the top.

“The Foundation has been rotating funding proposals annually among the five veterinary colleges in Canada and 2018 is Guelph’s turn,” Watson said.

Wichtel said great progress had been made in learning technology for veterinary clinical skills development, and this equine model was an excellent example. “Our college has committed to the use of high fidelity models and simulations in early clinical training whenever possible.

An Equine Neck Venipuncture Model.
An Equine Neck Venipuncture Model.

“When our students perform their first procedures on a live animal, they will be even better prepared and more confident,” Wichtel said.

“We are very grateful to the Equine Foundation of Canada for fostering the health and wellbeing of horses through supporting veterinary medical education in this valuable way.”

The EFC is an outgrowth of the Canadian Morgan Horse Association (CMHA), founded in 1960. The purpose of the CMHA was to assist Morgan breeders and owners with promotion and registry services to protect the integrity of their pedigrees.

In 1983, the Association expanded its interest to concern for the welfare of all horse breeds and created the Foundation to assist in safeguarding their future.

With a factory in Calgary, VSI was once a recipient of startup funding from the EFC, which provides for scholarships and other worthy requests. But the primary focus now is on buying teaching equipment for equine veterinary education.

Reporting: Karen Mantel

The inside of the Equine Palpation / Colic Simulator.
The inside of the Equine Palpation / Colic Simulator.
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