The track veterinarian: ”My duty is to be ready”
It´s action, high stakes, and exciting final spurts.
But in the middle of the high pace at the racecourse in Bro Park, there´s a whole battery of officials, ready to uphold the security and make sure the horses are safe.
Susanna Staaf is one of the track veterinarians and spokeswoman for the animals during race days.
Almost every day at the course is a good day. But even days that seem calm can suddenly change into the opposite.
Then, it's a real-life situation and quick decisions to be made by a veterinarian.
– My function is to make sure the racecourse is safe for the horses and also make sure the horses are in shape for racing. I watch them at a short pace and in trot to decide whether they're good to start or not. Gallop is a high-risk sport where anything can happen. A horse can scamper, horses might run into each other, and my function is to be ready when accidents occur, says Susanna Staaf.
Recently, in harness racing, a driver was fined and suspended after illegally whipping his horse. If anything similar should happen at the galloping course, are you the one making that kind of decision?
– It might be. There’s a lot of officials taking care of those things and I’m one of them. Scandals of that kind are very unusual, though. I have never seen a horse getting treated that bad. The rules are getting tougher and tougher, and shortly, I hope beating will be totally forbidden in gallop racing.
In Sweden, horse racing is nearly the only sport that allows competitions during the corona outbreak. What differences do you notice?
– Since April, every race is without attendance. Only a limited number of people are allowed in the arena and the facilities. There are new rules about prize ceremonies and lots of other moments around the race. Still, the principles of treating injured and ill horses remain the same. The main difference is the logistics. Just the fact that shaking hands is not allowed is a weird feeling.
Working at a galloping course means working at an open place with strong winds and harsh temperatures. Warm, flexible clothes are necessary for not having the day spoiled due to cold. As a ”Uhiper,” Susanna Staaf is a real veteran. Ever since Uhip was founded, she has worn our clothes.
– I love Uhip´s clothes! Standing on the course is often freezingly cold, and going from the comfortable indoor climate to the cold outside, you have to dress right. Then, it doesn't hurt that Uhip´s clothes are not only warm but beautiful as well. Actually, one of my Uhip coats is for parties and fine dining only, says Susanna Staaf.
Except that the clothes keep you warm, what other advantages do you see?
– Uhip designs smart clothes overall, especially for me as a veterinarian. Most of the garments come with lots of pockets, which is perfect for me, who wants to keep things in different places. I like the thumb-grip that holds the sleeve in place and the long sleeves with hand-warmers you can fell down. They´re very comfortable.
Any favorite Uhip garment?
– Being a leisure horse rider myself, I have to say the skirts. I love them! They´re outstanding because you no longer have to get your legs cold. We have been freezing our whole lives, but now, thanks to Uhip, we don't have to freeze anymore.
Isabelle – Responsible for 100 horses
She tells us that she almost grew up in the backseat of her father’s car. Thanks to her father Hans Berhandsson, she got an insight into the veterinary profession and early started dreaming about a future job as a veterinarian. Today Isabelle Fredricson carries a huge responsibility for a hundred horses at the national equestrian center in Flyinge.
– I have a big interest in medicine, and I love horses. It feels amazing to be able to combine my profession as a veterinarian with my passion for horses. I am very thankful for this opportunity. Working as a veterinarian is lovely, Isabelle Fredricson says.
The restrictions we live within today’s society due to the coronavirus means that Isabelle has to make both small and big changes in her life. Usually, she and husband Jens Fredricson, equerry of Flyinge, combine their work at Flyinge with competing in showjumping during weekends. But even though competing isn’t allowed at the moment, life is almost the same for the Fredricson family.
– For me, as a vet, nothing has really changed since we still run our school at Flyinge. The theoretical parts are being held on distance, digitally, but we’re teaching the practical parts almost in the same way as before. I work as much as usual, maybe more. My job is to keep every horse in shape, and these days, when either Jens or I can compete, I get more time working prophylactic with the horses.
What are the most rewarding thing with your job?
– To get a chance to set-up a whole package of management together with coaches, farriers, and the stable manager. Preventing injuries is my real passion, but get a broader base of knowledge and expertise, I have learned chiropractic during international studies and also, learned about the horse's mouth cavity. Because I’m an equestrian myself I can take advantage of my knowledge of training and competing and get a better understanding of how to ride your horse to maintain it’s health.
Isabelle Fredricson is one of av Uhip's team riders. Usually, her working days are long and include both horse riding and horse care at Flyinge, she thinks it’s important to wear functional clothes with smart features. Uhip provides all that, according to Isabelle.
– Uhip's Functional Stable Pants is a typical veterinarian pant. They fit nicely and are made in a stretchy material that allows you to bend down without feeling uncomfortable. You can easily put a scissor in the pocket if you need to. I also like the vests, matching the pants with a vest is perfect when you need to dress properly.
The jacket/skit-combo gets the highest rating.
– A marvellous thing about Uhip's clothes is that you never have to freeze in them. I love coats and skirts; they are both stylish and customized for riders, but can also we worn on other occasions. The skirt is more feminine compared to big thermal pants if I can say so (laughter)
Isabelle also appreciates Uhip's new Trench collection.
– Growing up with an interest in fashion, I've always loved trench coats. I'm pretty tall myself, and therefore the long trench coats suit me well.