These days, they call me a veterinarian By Dr. Ben Ouyang

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These days, they call me a veterinarian.  Back when I came to HorseWorks, I was a student of mathematics.  I sat inside all day, studying equation after equation. I needed something real, something tangible. For years, all the songs on the radio told stories of the west: horses, cattle, sun, rain, hats, boots. I loved animals. I missed working with my hands. I longed to be outside. This was the change I needed. I emailed MaeCile and booked a working ranch adventure at Horseworks Wyoming.

When I arrived in Cody, it was dark. I couldn’t see anything I had pictured listening to the songs on the radio. But something told me I was in the right place. I don’t know if it was the clean air. Maybe I could just feel the open space. But the first thing I said to MaeCile when we finally met was, “This is like a dream”.

It really was.

It was my first morning. I remember taking out my hat. It was a black, shapeable cowboy hat I bought online. It fit me well. I carried it in my hands to breakfast. But I didn’t put it on.

I had it on for my first ride, which ended just in time for lunch. I walked into the dining hall, and the cook yelled, “Hey!! Awesome hat!!” Then he showed me his hat and told me a story of how the hole in the top of his hat got there. I never took my hat off after that. And I felt right at home.

I started playing guitar during my senior year of college.  I remembering plunking around on an old hand-me-down. The first songs I learned to play were by George Strait and Randy Travis.

Towards the end of my first week at Horseworks, we had our first campfire.  MaeCile told one of the hands to go get his guitar and sing us some songs. While you can’t beat George Strait or Randy Travis, there was something very real about this guy’s songs.  He had written most of them and you could tell he had lived them.

He then handed me his guitar and told me to play something.  I was nervous. I had never played for anyone before and never thought I would.  But with a little encouragement, I started playing for everyone.

And, as all my friends will tell you, I haven’t stopped since.

I can still remember my excitement for our first cattle drive! Food animal production was still a mystery to me. Now I’ve been to a bunch of ranches, farms, and feedlots around the world.  Since then, the demand for more large animal veterinarians is why I am now in global epidemiology.

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