Three distinguished veterinary students seeking careers in equine medicine have been awarded Coyote Rock Ranch Veterinary Scholarships totaling $300,000. The Foundation for the Horse presented these awards on Monday, Dec. 9, during the AAEP’s 65th Annual Convention, which is currently underway in Denver, Colorado.

Selected from over 70 exceptional third-year student applicants were Gabriel Gonzalez from North Carolina State University (NCSU) and Zoë Williams from Michigan State University, each of whom received $75,000 awards, and Natalie Andrews, also from NCSU, whose $75,000 scholarship was doubled due to her intended career path of equine theriogenology (reproduction).

Andrews’ time working with her now mentor, Scott Bailey, DVM, MS, Dipl. ACT, associate professor of theriogenology at NCSU’s College of Veterinary Medicine, has allowed her to experience a unique blend of clinical theriogenology practice and research. This has been instrumental in developing her career goals of working in equine breeding programs in tertiary care private practice. “When those dysmature foals we had been fighting to keep alive made a complete turnaround, everything was validated for me,” says Andrews. “I realized I was where I was meant to be, and the lack of sleep was all worth it.”

Gonzalez, an aspiring equine academic surgeon, participates in the Veterinary Scholars Program at NCSU. In his current research project he’s focuses on small intestine strangulating colic in horses and evaluating intestinal stem cell biomarkers that affected tissues of horses with this form of colic express. His aim is to potentially lay the groundwork for developing a test to objectively determine the viability of ischemic (lacking blood flow) intestine in horses with strangulating colic, and he hopes to improve the prognosis of these surgical patients.

Williams, who overcame numerous challenges to keep her lifelong dream of becoming an equine veterinarian alive, is dual-enrolled as a DVM and PhD student. Her PhD thesis focuses on myofibrillar myopathy. “Sometimes you just have to go for it and work hard,” she said. “Keep the goals you have for yourself clear in your mind, but be open to what happens along the way.” She intends to establish her own practice and hopes to provide horsemen, scientists, and veterinarians with leadership and to enhance the horse community.

Penelope Knight, an avid horsewoman and strong advocate for horse health, created the Coyote Rock Ranch Veterinary Scholarship program in 2015. Coyote Rock Ranch is a high-end cutting horse breeding operation in the high desert country of Central Oregon. Since the first scholarships were awarded in 2016, 13 AAEP student members have benefited from a cumulative $1,050,000 in assistance.

“With the help of The Foundation for the Horse, I am pleased to offer this great opportunity to benefit our next generation of veterinarians,” Knight said. “Helping future veterinarians is one way I am able to give back to the industry I hold dear to my heart, and I will continue my support for years to come.”

For more information about this program and other scholarships offered through The Foundation for the Horse (formerly known as the AAEP Foundation), visit foundationforthehorse.org.