An ode to AHEMS – by Harriet Long

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By Harriet Long


Harriet Long On A HorseTo those uninitiated into the complex and wonderful world of vet school acronyms, AHEMS (or, Animal Husbandry Extra Mural Studies) are a series of husbandry placements which have to be undertaken during the preclinical years of vet school to get students used to the husbandry of different species. While they offer the opportunity to learn tonnes and have some brilliant experiences (I once got to feed a camel a peanut butter sandwich), with the highs come some wonderfully infuriating lows. For your enjoyment (and because writing is cheaper than therapy) in no particular order here are five of the moments which have irreversibly raised my blood pressure:


  1.  The time I was shouted at for getting an answer ‘wrong’

Picture this: you’re a first year. A rather scary lady is asking you quick-fire clinical questions about horses (even though you’ve told her you haven’t done any of that yet). The final answer you gave was leptospirosis. ‘WRONG’, she shouts, ‘IT’S WEIL’S DISEASE YOU SHOULD KNOW THIS’ and proceeds to go off on one about the state of British education.

You stand there and take it because she’s writing your report for uni but you slowly die inside.



  1. The time someone blew cigarette smoke into a donkey’s mouth so it would come out of its nose ‘like a dragon’.

I mean seriously. SERIOUSLY. Donkey


  1. The time I didn’t know the answer to a crossword puzzle and was told that I would fail at life

The clue was something about sports. I said I didn’t know. They made a weird comment about the likelihood that I would succeed in the world. I laughed awkwardly. WELL IF A DOG COMES TO SEE YOU WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO, SAY I DON’T KNOW AND KILL IT. YOU’RE GOING TO BE A TERRIBLE VET.

So that happened.


  1. The time I was stood next to a cardboard cutout of a man and an old guy only wanted to talk to the cutout and not to me.

    Apparently talking to a photo of a man is still better than talking to a woman …


  2. The time I alphabetised all of the customer files then watched them throw them in the bin.

They asked me to do it. It took me over three hours. I lost most of my faith in humanity that day.



ReptileSo, there you have it, my favorite least favorite moments from AHEMS. As I say, there were some good times and I’ve had practice injecting all kinds of species (including my uncle one time) so I’m not saying that AHEMS is useless. On the contrary, perfecting the art of internally screaming is probably going to serve me well in the coming years …

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