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Horsing around: Kentucky vet’s new life as an author

By TIM THORNBERRY
Kentucky Correspondent

FRANKFORT, Ky. — In the middle of many authors and among thousands of book lovers sat Dr. Marcia Thibeault, DVM, a retired veterinarian with a story to tell.

She was one of 150 statewide authors attending the 28th Annual Kentucky Book Fair. With lots of stories from her 20-plus year practice, she has begun a new career that looks as though it will be as successful as her vet career.

The book fair brought all these writers together in an event that has become a must-stop for Kentucky authors looking to promote their work and meet a book-loving public.

Thibeault, who now lives in Georgetown, began her career in veterinarian medicine in Colorado, where she grew up and treated all breeds of horses from miniatures to drafts, and all disciplines, from trail to dressage.

“I was born horse-crazy and nothing much has changed. I was a horse trainer, a horse rider and a horse stable manager looking for a better job in the horse industry,” she said, of becoming a vet.
In 1986, after attending the Rolex Kentucky Three Day Event (a dressage, cross-country and jumping competition) at the Kentucky Horse Park, she fell in love with Kentucky but didn’t move here until 1999. It took so long because she wanted to retire from her practice rather than walk away from it.

Since moving here, she has delivered foals at a Paris horse farm and taught equine studies for four years at Midway College, which is known nationally for its equine program.

Much of her practice consisted of going to farms to treat horses which, along with her enduring love for the animals, helped with the name of her first book, I Make Horse Calls: Living a Dream with Horses.

“The book is a collection of stories from my practice. Each chapter is essentially an appointment, so you get to meet the owner and meet the horse and go through the history of physical findings with me and play along and see if you can diagnose and treat it,” she said. “We have interesting characters that also pop in and out as they actually occur in the life of a vet.”

It was one particular event, however, that gave Thibeault the idea of putting together a series of her adventures for a series of books, of which two have been published. The second is appropriately called More Horse Calls: A Dream Fulfilled.

“It was the day a junior high called and wanted to send a group of students out for career day. It turned out we were doing a surgery and the surgery room was very small, so prior to the start we asked that if anyone wanted to leave, they had to leave before we started,” she said. “We were castrating a colt and the surgeon I was working with suggested that if anyone felt faint, perhaps they should sit down.”

None of the girls in the class stayed and the boys who did decided they were brave enough to withstand the sight of blood, refused the seats – and the comedy began to unfold.

“When we made the first incision, the first boy fainted, and by the time we were finished there were seven of them on the floor,” she said. “The funniest thing was after they fainted, the anesthesiologist, who was actually in the next room, had to crawl under the neck of the horse and grab these boys by the feet and drag them out.

“When we got outside, he had put them against a wall with their legs up the wall so their blood would go back to their heads. When we saw those seven boys in that position moaning and groaning and wondering what had happened, I thought that some boys take this a little too personally.”

Thibeault has intentionally filled the book with lighthearted, funny tales, although there are some tender moments.

She has traveled across the country taking her books and stories with her, and discovering a whole new set of readers.
The first book also contains an insight into the process of becoming a veterinarian, Thibeault said.

Her love of horses is easy to see, and that love was apparent to the many book fair attendees who greeted her. She ends the prologue of I Make Horse Calls by stating, “My life would be forever enriched by horses. By caring for them my dreams came true.”
She will be in Michigan at the North American Horse Fest, Dec. 12-14. For more information, visit www.imakehorsecalls.com

11/11/2009