From the trenches: "Hey, doc, my trailer full of horses just crashed into a house ... "
The hardest thing a veterinarian can do is break into the horse world. But, by golly, I wanted to be a horse doctor. My first year after buying my practice in Lamesa, Texas, I saw 96 horses total. That's 96 horses the entire year. The next year, we treated a whopping 8,000 horses, but still, I had no idea it would ever lead to this.
I'd heard about this couple ever since I arrived in Lamesa. They lived in eastern New Mexico and owned a large number of horses. The husband was a rodeo coach at the university and knew as much about horses as anyone I'd ever met.
This very same rodeo coach called me on a Tuesday and said he had seven horses that needed a good veterinarian. I told him to come on over and we'd do whatever we could to make those horses happy. He was too busy, but he said he'd load them into the trailer and send his wife over. He said I could expect her about one o' clock in the afternoon, and he'd appreciate a call once I'd examined all the horses.I was so excited I nearly peed my pants. I really wanted to impress the rodeo coach because I figured he would send me a lot of good horses. This was the break I had been looking for and I didn't want to mess it up. I spent all of Monday readying the clinic for the newfound client.
One o'clock Tuesday arrived, but there was no sign of the rodeo coach's wife, Ettna Bess. I was going over our conversation in my head, wondering if I'd said something to make him mad. Two o'clock arrived and still no Ettna Bess. I was beginning to think I'd truly irked him. You have to remember, this was a time when almost no one had cell phones yet, and I had no way to contact the couple.
Three o'clock arrived and still no horses. I was devastated. I replayed our phone call a thousand times and just couldn't find anything negative about it. Two hours late usually means not coming at all, so at that point I gave up and pouted a while.
At about 3:30 p.m. a truck with a long trailer slowly pulled into the parking lot at Brock Veterinary Clinic. A pretty lady about 35 years old got out and came strolling toward me. She looked upset and dismayed.
"You will never believe how terrible my trip over here was," Ettna Bess said with absolute conviction in her voice.
She'd stopped at the convenience store on the west side of town to get a Coke. There was one problem with this pit stop—she'd forgotten to put on the emergency brake. Apparently the Ford dually and seven horses had rolled across the street, crashed through the front of a house and continued to roll through this man's living room and kitchen all the way into the bedroom.
When Ettna Bess came out of the store she thought someone had stolen her truck. She was about to call the police when she saw her trailer sticking out of the front of the house. The poor homeowner was asleep on the couch in his underwear the whole time, but thank goodness he didn't get hit at all.
"When the man woke up, all of these horses were in his living room. He said it was quite startling—I could see why," Ettna Bess said. "And I never thought you could back up a pickup and trailer out of a house, but you can. Anyway, here's a list of what is wrong with the horses. Sorry again that I'm late."
This lady was pretty calm for just having had her trailer plow through a house. I went over to the pickup and found stucco from the house's exterior stuck in the grill and windshield wipers. I couldn't imagine being so composed after such an experience, but Ettna Bess was cool as ice.
We went on to become good friends, and I've worked on her and her husband's horses for 20 years now. Every time Ettna Bess shows up, though, I have to ask, "Did you have to drive through a house to get here?"
Dr. Bo Brock owns Brock Veterinary Clinic in Lamesa, Texas.