How I Learn By Doing

The Miracle of Life

By Katie McGraw

Video by Matt Yoon

My passion in life has always been animals, so when I received the exciting news that I had been accepted into Cal Poly, it seemed only natural that I would take the animal science pre-vet path. However, it didn’t take long to realize that becoming a vet wasn’t my dream. So now what? What career path would involve the animals I loved without requiring a doctorate in veterinary medicine? The answer to my question: the Cal Poly Foaling Enterprise.

The Foaling Enterprise is a specialized program for students who are interested in learning all aspects of foaling in the equine industry. Students are equipped to care for and assist mares before, during and after giving birth, and when and how to intervene if necessary. They are also responsible for caring for and handling the foals during their first few months of life.

We receive hands-on experience in every aspect of the enterprise. This consists of the basic day-to-day chores, such as cleaning and grooming the mares; keeping a 24-hour watch on pregnant mares as birth approaches; and imprinting the new foals, or acclimating them to human contact. I learned early on that the intensity of the enterprise is not for the faint-hearted. But the moment a foal is born and you get to be a part of the miracle of life, every sleep-deprived night is worth it.

The Miracle of Life

Katie McGraw with a proud new mother and brand-new foal. Photo by Jennifer Olson

I realized early on that this job was never going to be easy, but my dedication toward the program has never wavered. As a manager, my favorite aspect of the enterprise is passing down the knowledge that I’ve learned over the years so that younger students can become more confident in their work. The most rewarding part of this enterprise is watching the new students and new foals grow and learn together!

I’ve had the pleasure of working under many talented mentors at Cal Poly, like Natalie Baker, Dr. Joy Altermatt and Dr. Matt Burd. They have opened my eyes to the world of equine care and reproduction.

Over the last three years working with the enterprise, I have found a path I can make into a career while working with the animals I feel truly passionate about.


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