Vet Teaching Horse Retires After 24 Years on the Job

Sugar, a 27-year-old Spanish Barb horse, has played a role in the education of almost all of the 2,109 doctor of veterinary medicine graduates from the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine at Virginia Tech during her 24 years on the job.

Now, after a job well done, Sugar has retired and found a new home.

Linda Correll, a former employee of the college, and her husband, Gary, donated Sugar to the college in 1984. They had originally purchased Sugar to be a riding horse; however, due to her petite stature, they decided she might be better suited for helping veterinary students learn about equine anatomy and care.

Since then, she has been used in first-year musculoskeletal palpation labs and in second-year clinical technique labs where students learn proper methods for things like haltering and picking up the feet of a horse. She also made several public appearances during the college's annual open house.

Teaching horse gets new home

Dr. Marlice Vonck (right), a faculty member in the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine, turns over the reins of Sugar to Shalyn Crawford, a member of the college’s Class of 2010, and her family.

"Sugar was always the first picked for labs and events since she has such a sweet and gentle spirit," said Marlice Vonck, DVM, the college's clinical veterinarian for the Teaching and Research Animal Care Support Service. Vonck helped to arrange Sugar's adoption.

Sugar remained in good health during her entire career with the college and was well monitored and cared for by Vonck and the animal care technicians. When it came time for her to enter retirement, they knew they had to find a good home for her to repay the hard work she had put in over the years.

That is where Shalyn Crawford, a member of the Class of 2010, and her family stepped in. The Crawfords adopted Sugar and took her home to their 10-acre farm in New Market, Va. This holiday season, with her working days behind her, Sugar will be enjoying green pastures, loving care, and the company of two other retirees, Medicine Hat and Oliver.

Read more about veterinary teaching horses.

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