A Class of His Own: Teaching-Assistance Horse Earns Honorary Veterinary Degree at UC Davis

At the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine last Saturday, 137 students received their Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine degrees. In a barn a few hours away, a 19-year-old Thoroughbred horse unknowingly became a doctor also. 

Teddy, it seems, is in a class of his own.

“Dr. Teddy” received an honorary degree from UC Davis for being a “Master Equine Educator” for the students, having helped them learn equine health at more than two dozen appointments and a lengthy stay at the school’s teaching hospital over the past year.

During his time at UC Davis, Teddy was seen for routine treatments such as vaccinations and deworming, but also more complicated issues such as stem cell treatments and a neurological disorder. Over the year, many veterinary students had the opportunity to learn from the ex-racehorse. 

“Teddy was the first patient I ever had on my clinical rotations,” said Class of 2016 DVM graduate Carin Stevens. “Signing up for your first patient is quite a nerve-racking experience…Teddy was the perfect patient.”

Teddy’s patience helped students with minimal large animal experience be comfortable around horses. His inherent interest in human companionship makes him an ideal horse for students to approach. He routinely walked students through various lessons in equine medicine including neurologic assessment, lameness evaluation, medication administration, behavioral and postural assessment, grooming, hand walking and much more. 

“He would greet us with ears pricked forward, eyes bright, and an unspoken inquiry of what the day would hold,” said Dr. Claudia Sonder, director of the UC Davis Center for Equine Health. “I stood with my team in front of him on numerous occasions to discuss his progress, evaluate his comfort level and remark upon his cheerful nature despite months of confinement. It was clear to us that he trusted us and enjoyed our companionship.”

“The UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine is number one in the world due to its remarkable faculty, their cutting edge research and inspirational teaching, and its students, each of whom is exceptional in their own right,” said owners Bob and Colleen Haas. “For Teddy to be the first equine to ‘graduate’ from UC Davis as a Master Equine Educator is beyond comprehension. We’re so grateful to everyone at UC Davis for Teddy’s care.”

Materials supplied by the University of California at Davis were used in this article. UC Davis client confidentiality regulations prohibit listing Teddy’s own medical history.




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