Dr. Christie Ward
Dr. Christie Ward
Dr. Christie Ward, DVM, MVSc, a specialist in internal medicine at UMEC, knows her way around a shedrow on the backside of a race course as well as she does an intensive care unit.
Ward had a passion for horses as a child but never owned one until recently. Her options to feed what she calls “an inborn obsession” as a girl growing up in Winnipeg, Manitoba were to read horse books and to watch movies about horses.
“Horses equal beauty-- how can I not be amazed by it daily?” said Ward. “Working with them is a process of gaining closer understanding of an alien brain, and it gives me a tremendous amount of joy to be understood by them, to share their capacity and willingness to be understood.”
These days she is improving mutual understanding with her gelding, Teddy, a three year old dark bay Thoroughbred from the Prairie Meadows, Iowa track. He is now stabled near Stillwater where she rides and trains him.
“Teddy has a wonderful, willing-to-learn attitude, he has a bit of a short attention span but he’s a good kid,” said Ward.
Ward hung around barns as a child, cleaning stalls in exchange for rides, and although she entered college at 15, she dropped out after a year to get more professional experience with horses. She walked hot horses, groomed, ponied and galloped the racehorses at the Assiniboia Downs track in Winnipeg and Marquis Downs in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.
She has broken “pretty much every bone in my body” in pursuit of her favorite sport or while training young racehorses in starting gates or taking spills on jumpers, but it has not deterred her in the least from loving sport horses.
When Canterbury Downs opened in 1985 in Shakopee, Minnesota she came along with her employer, a Canadian trainer, to help him compete with his string. She liked what she saw, so in 1991, after completing her degree in veterinary medicine at the University of Saskatchewan, she returned to Minnesota to do an internship in large animal medicine and surgery at the University. After earning a Master’s degree at Saskatchewan in 1995 she returned to the University of Minnesota to complete a Ph.D. program.
Along the way, Ward became a member of the board of directors of the Minnesota Horse Council, a frequent lecturer at the Minnesota Horse Expo and other educational events for horsepeople, and a mentor to undergraduate and pre-veterinary students.
She brings her ability to be intensely detail-oriented to her specialties at UMEC: allergies, immunology and respiratory disease, especially heaves.
“Heaves is a complex problem that requires a lot of help,” said Ward, whose own allergies and asthma give her a deeper empathy and interest in this affliction. “You have to be regularly in touch with the horse and owner for about a year. And I enjoy studying infectious diseases such as Lyme disease--another complex, confusing disease to diagnose and treat.”
“Working with horses and horsepeople, spending time outdoors—this is just the best job on earth,” said Ward of her position at UMEC.
“The new facility is just beautiful, and because of it our physical facility will now reflect our staff expertise and capability,” said Ward. “It increases our ability to have everything needed in one place for sport horses and for rehabilitation as well as providing a better facility for teaching and laboratory work. I also really love the conference facility aspect that is dedicated to meetings and the way it increases our outreach to the public.”
| Dr. Christie Ward is board certified by the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine