"My barrel horse has turned into a bucking bronco," Dodie Walsch told local veterinarian Lainie Kringen-Scholtz on Friday morning. "My gut tells me it's a pain issue."
She described the symptoms the horse has exhibited this spring, noting that she's usually a gentle mare her children can ride.
"I try saddle after saddle on her and she's not happy," Walsch said.
Walsch was consulting Scholtz because she has a specialty that is conducive to equine pain management. In addition to providing traditional veterinary services, she makes chiropractic adjustments and practices acupuncture on horses, show cattle and bucking bulls.
As an associate with Twin Lakes Animal Clinic, she is the newest member of the staff, having joined the practice in May 2020. She works with veterinarians Dave Maier and Brooke Braskamp, who are co-owners of the animal clinic.
The areas of expertise that Scholtz brings to the animal clinic aren't the only new advance seen there. A week ago, the clinic upgraded X-ray technology from computed radiology to digital radiology with portable equipment that will enhance their ability to diagnose problems with both large and small animals.
"It's the same quality as human imaging," Maier said. In addition, fewer steps are needed to view the images.
"We can see things that we couldn't see before," Scholtz said.
To illustrate, she used the example of a dog swallowing a sock.
"The owners would have noticed vomiting and diarrhea," she indicated. In addition, the dog would be lethargic.
Previously, an X-ray would have shown an abnormal pattern and a barium study would have been recommended. That diagnostic procedure would have indicated what was happening in the dog's gastrointestinal tract.
"It would coat the sock or stop at the sock," Scholtz said. This would suggest a blockage, and surgery to remove the sock would be recommended.
"We still might have to use the barium, but we can see the detail better," she explained. However, with the new clarity of detail, the second step might in some cases be eliminated. Surgery would still be recommended.
The new X-ray machine was purchased, in part, because the previous one was on its last legs. However, the new equipment also improves the quality of care which can be provided.
"It's good medicine to have it," Scholtz said.
Maier emphasized the convenience and portability of the equipment. A digital plate is connected by WiFi to a computer so the image is immediately visible. This and the image generator can both be removed from the office and used with a portable laptop.
In addition to enhancing the veterinarian's ability to diagnose problems, the clarity of the image improves the owner's ability to see and comprehend the identified problem.
"We can send these to a referring hospital," Scholtz added, indicating there are times when surgery will be done elsewhere. In addition, the digital files can be stored, improving longterm care.
"We can compare images to past images," she said.
Scholtz is 2010 graduate of Madison High School. She earned her bachelor's degree in animal science from South Dakota State University in 2013 and her doctorate from Iowa State University in 2017. She worked at Prairie View Vet Clinic in Miller and Animal Medical Care in Brookings before joining Twin Lakes.
"I always wanted to be a veterinarian, since I was a kid," she said.
Growing up, she was involved in 4-H and showed horses, dogs and sheep.
"I had to work so I could afford board for my horses," she said.
Horses remain a passion; she does barrel racing and cutting at jackpot events around the area. This is an interest she shares with Braskamp. The women frequently go to events together.
Scholtz also owns a team of Percherons she inherited from her grandfather.
Currently, approximately 40% of the work done at Twin Lakes is with small animals, primarily cats and dogs. Another 45% is beef cattle with the final 15% being equine.
"The equine side of things is growing fast," Scholtz said. "Most of our clients are barrel racers or rodeo."
This is not only a result of the contacts they make through participating in these events but also comes because Scholtz and Braskamp understand the demands placed on horses used in the events.
Because FFA and 4-H were important to Scholtz when she was growing up, she is involved with both organizations now, providing training where appropriate.
"Next week, I'm doing a talk for the Desperado's about equine vaccinations," she said, referring to the local 4-H horsemanship club.
She also works with Madison High School students who are preparing to compete in the veterinary science Career Development Event, helping them learn about everything from equipment identification to animal breeds.