Making a rhino roll over with joy
EAGLE You know a veterinarian is good with large animals when she can get a rhino to roll over in delight. Silvia Stocker, has gotten a rhino rollover. Shes also treated zebras, giraffes and llamas.But Stockers specialty is horses. Now, Stocker Equine Veterinary Services has set up a practice in the valley specializing in horses, but if you happen to have a giraffe or zebra around, shell check that out, too. I do look at goats, cows, alpacas, Stocker said. Although new in the valley, she expects a busy spring. She took over Dr. Courtney Diehls practice when Diehl left for Kentucky.Spring is the time horse owners begin riding again. And with riding come checkups and vaccinations for horses.Stocker believes in preventive medicine. In addition to the usual vaccinations and teeth cleaning, she helps horse owners set up a program that includes nutrition, de-worming and general care. When a horse does get sick, she has the experience to treat it.Trainer to healerStocker has been around horses most of her life. Growing up in Switzerland at the foot of the Alps, she became interested in horses as a girl.After high school, Stocker spent three years in horse training school, taking classes and learning how to care for, groom and train horses. She did odd jobs including a stint as a flight attendant. But it was her time working as an equine emergency veterinarian technician on the nights and weekends she found particularly helpful. At the end of the three years, she received her Swiss certification as a horse trainer. Off to the circusAfter receiving her license she ran away with the circus. The Knie Swiss National Circus has many horses in its big tent shows, from Palominos to Spanish Andalusians. Hired as a horse trainer, Stocker soon became barn manager. Stocker got close to all the horses, which she said seemed to thrive on circus life and were treated well. If you had to leave one behind, it would get very upset, she said. Others loved to show off in the ring.As barn manager she was often required to work with other animals used in the circus acts including zebras and giraffes, even training birds. One rhino, Zeila, would lay down in happiness when Stocker scratched her behind her ear. It was a great experience, Stocker said. In addition to learning how to deal with people, Stocker said she learned more about horses. You need to be able to understand horses to be able to work with them, and how to talk to them in a language they understand.From road to rangeStocker came to the United States in 1998, and earned her undergraduate degree and her DVM degree from Colorado State University. In 2005, she went to Florida, where she worked for the, Peterson & Smith Equine Hospital for a year.But she found sand and surf were not for her. I knew I wanted to be back in the mountains and I missed the snow, she said. Plus, work drew her husband, Jamie Gulden, back to Colorado, and they settled in Eagle.With Eagle Countys growth, Stocker said she felt there was a need for another horse vet in the valley, so owners dont have to go far for treatment. She said two of the valleys other equine vets, Dr. George Platt and Dr. Sheila Fitzpatrick, have been helpful to her. But the hours can be rough.An equine doctor has to make house calls; and Stockers truck is always well-equipped, and ready to whisk her to the next patient. I am basically on call 24 hours, she said. Its good to have someone who is willing to go in the middle of the night.This story appeared first in the Eagle Valley Enterprise.