This month we’re shining a light on our Director of Fundraising & Communications, Jess. Jess…
For this month’s Hay There we caught up with Claire, Veterinary Assistant at The Horse Trust and a familiar face around here, having been a part of our team for 22 years! Claire started full-time with The Horse Trust in 2001 following work experience with us, and hasn’t looked back since. She works closely with Veterinary Director, Nicky, and together they perform checkups and provide treatment daily to our herd, ensuring they’re as fit, healthy and happy as possible. Claire works closely with the Knowledge and Skills team, too, training our residents to reduce stress during veterinary procedures and clinic visits. Claire tells us about her highs, lows and what sparked her love for horses.
Claire just returned from a busy day on site, training rescue ponies, Clifford and George. Busy days are no anomaly for Claire who spends most of her mornings supporting Nicky with the treatment of 6-8 patients per day… today was especially busy with 15 of our residents in need of a check-up (these days only happen occasionally!)
Claire is often on hand to keep an eye on some of our more vulnerable residents in need of round the clock care. Horses really are a lifestyle choice and something you have to love in order to dedicate your time to; it’s clear this is the case for Claire.
Claire is very much used to helping others behind the scenes and usually manages to escape recognition – but not this time! The Horse Trust’s Louis Theroux-team managed to track her down. (Sorry Claire – and thanks for chatting with us!)
You started with us in 2001, how has your role developed since then?
It started with work experience in my teens… I decided I liked it and went on to Volunteer. Afterwards I got a job as a Groom and progressed to Senior Groom. I was then promoted to Head Groom and today I work closely with Nicky as Veterinary Assistant.
The Horse Trust has changed a lot since being here, along with the rest of the world I suppose! Health and Safety has obviously progressed and there’s more focus on horse behaviour – we see these changes in the veterinary side of things.
I do a lot of behaviour training nowadays alongside the Knowledge and Skills team; it’s often how my afternoons are spent. It’s to ensure that when a horse needs to go into the clinic they’re used to the environment – such as needles, or inhalers for example – and they’re as free from stress as possible, making it safe for them and for us.
What does an average day look like as Veterinary Assistant at The Horse Trust?
In the mornings I work alongside Nicky to treat the horses in need of medical attention. There’s usually around 6-8 patients but this morning was pretty crazy and we had 15 horses to check! Once that’s done, my afternoon varies from stock-checking, to ordering equipment and laboratory tasks followed by behaviour training. Rescue ponies, Clifford and George are my most recent patients.
Is there anything that helps to keep nervous horses calm during veterinary treatment?
Food! Horslyx especially are a good distraction. Sometimes if we have a nervous pony, bringing their friend along for moral support helps.
Where did your love of horses come from?
I’ve always loved horses but I used to be allergic to them! Luckily, my allergies weren’t so bad when I reached my teens so the first chance I got, I started riding and spending time on yards. I then came to The Horse Trust and haven’t looked back since.
Do any Horse Trust residents hold a special place in your heart?
I’d say there’s a solid three that hold a special place in my heart… Domino is one; he arrived very, very weak and poorly, and was just a tiny foal, at a suspected 4-6 months old. When it was the middle of winter Katie and I stayed close to him overnight whilst he slept in his stable… it was -3 degrees and safe to say it was very cold! We wrapped Domino in duvets to keep him warm and, thankfully, he made it through the night. It’s so amazing to see him fighting fit and healthy today.
Another one of mine has to be Walter. He’s such a dude! We worked very closely in the past and we have a very special bond. He used to very scared of the vet clinic… it took us two years before he could begin to feel safe in the environment but you should see him today… he trots straight in and we struggle to get him to leave! He loves the vibes in there now.
Of course last but not least I adore Casper. He’s been here for such a long time and I worked with him when I was a groom.
What’s something that isn’t so fun about your job?
Something that never gets easy is losing the residents. Unfortunately, as a retirement home that’s something we have to see and working as Veterinary Assistant, it’s something that I sadly tend to experience quite closely.
What’s the favourite part of your job?
I think it is being able to help the horses whether that’s getting better from injury or illness, or helping them behaviour-wise to make the experience better for them. It’s lovely being able to make a difference. Also seeing the amount of dedication from the whole team. Everyone works hard in their own way to make sure the horses here are as happy as possible.
Thank you, Claire
We’d like to say a huge thank you for everything Claire does day in and day out for the horses at our sanctuary. Her dedication isn’t just bound to her working hours, but exists alongside her own life.
After our chat, we went to turn out little Casper the friendly ghost whilst Claire gave him a pep talk. He’d chomped on too much grass the night before, bless him, and made himself a little poorly. Claire planned to check on him in the field that evening and politely asked him if he could stand closer to the gate this time, as it’s less than ideal for her to go wading through the muddy terrain in her pyjamas at 10pm!
We’d better leave her to it, as Casper isn’t going to check on himself!
Your kind support enables us to provide the veterinary treatment our beloved residents need, ensuring their healthy and happy retirement, respite and recovery. To find out how you can support us, head to the link below.