BY EMILY SHIELDS
In a relatively short time Dr. Stacy Potter has been all over California, experiencing many facets of the industry. During the last four years she has shared her veterinary skills with Rancho San Miguel and has proved so indispensable that farm manager Clay Murdock selected her as one of the farm’s most valuable employees.
“It is such an advantage to have a resident veterinarian on the property,” said Murdock. “She not only takes care of the veterinary work, but also takes part in the management of the farm. She is very involved with all aspects of what we do here.”
The Thoroughbred industry wasn’t necessarily part of Potter’s plans just a few short years ago. The Orange County native got her undergraduate degree at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, and Quarter Horses were her passion.
“I showed extensively throughout the Western United States,” she said, “and actively as a young kid up through college. Also, my trainer had a large Quarter Horse breeding ranch, and I helped them at the farm during school breaks and summers.”
But her proximity to Thoroughbreds couldn’t be ignored.
“As an undergrad, I was deciding between going the animal science route and working at a breeding farm, or if I should go to vet school first and get into breeding that way. I started working closely with Sommer Smith and Dave Showalter from NexStar Ranch, helping them at the Barretts Sales. Being at Cal Poly, it was easy to run over and help them groom and show horses.”
The University of California, Davis beckoned.
“I completed vet school there,” said Potter, “and when I graduated, I went straight to Rancho San Miguel.”
She lives close to the foaling barn, has a truck stocked with the necessary supplies, and has a separate clinic nearby where horses can be taken in the event a sterile environment is needed. During breeding season, she spends the day checking on foals, palpating mares, and tending any minor injuries.
“In the springtime we do survey radiographs as well,” she explained. “We’ll do cultures on the mares and take preventative measures to keep anyone from getting sick.”
In the off-season Potter enjoys handling horses in general.
“She is very hands-on to any neonatal issues as she cares so much for the young foals and is willing to do whatever is necessary for their treatment,” Murdock said. “I would say maybe her biggest asset is she really cares about the horse and its veterinary care. She is also very good with communicating with owners, and she has a lot of empathy for them when difficult things arise. We have a very high conception rate here because of her attention to detail.”
After several years of Potter has returned to the show arena.
“I just got back from the American Quarter Horse Association World Championships with a filly,” she said. “It has been 10 years since I’d shown in what is our world championships, so it meant a lot to me. I still have a lot of passion for the show horses.”
And she treats the Rancho San Miguel horses as her own.
“I always say that one is my favorite baby or mare, but then I realize I have 10 of those each year,” she joked. “But I do treat them all as if they were my own horses.”