Originally, from Louisville, Kentucky, Natalie Heitz is a 2012 graduate of the University of Kentucky’s (UK) Equine Science and Management program and previous president of the UK Horse Racing Club.

Heitz grew up interested in horses, taking riding lessons and visiting racetracks with her grandmother, a handicapper. Once Heitz came to UK, she had virtually unlimited access to horse farms. Her first job on a farm was at UK’s Maine Chance Farm, followed by Hagyard Equine Medical Institute, then Dixiana Farm, all in Lexington, Kentucky.

After graduation, Heitz entered the prestigious Godolphin Flying Start program, formally Darley Flying Start, where she traveled the world learning about various aspects of the Thoroughbred industry. After completing the two-year program, Heitz entered veterinary school at Auburn University, where she is on track to graduate in May 2018 and become an equine veterinarian.

Heitz is currently one of eight student residents at Auburn’s teaching veterinary hospital. Those residents work the emergency shifts and assist with bloodwork, initial exams, calling the on-call veterinarian, completing paperwork, and communicating with the owner.

In July, Heitz returned to UK for two weeks to work with Laurie Lawrence, PhD, professor in UK’s Department of Animal and Food Sciences, to learn more about equine nutrition. During those two weeks, she had the opportunity to visit with several trainers about their feeding practices, study the types of supplements available for horses, and attend the American Association of Equine Practitioners’ Colic Symposium.

Asked what advice she had for current equine science and management students, Heitz said, “Take any opportunity you get, no matter how small. It, along with hard work, will pay off.”

Alexandra Harper, MBA, is the operations and communications coordinator at the UK Ag Equine Programs

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More information on Gluck Equine Research Center and UK Ag Equine Programs.