Meet PBEC Veterinary Technician Brittany Cain

Originally hailing from Chicago, Illinois, Brittany Cain, 25, attended Southern Illinois University before moving south and joining the staff at Palm Beach Equine Clinic as the manager of the nuclear scintigraphy lab.

What is your background with horses?

Growing up, my parents actually had nothing to do with horses; we’re from the city of Chicago, so they were not horse people at all. I was just always the horse obsessed little girl – you know, the one horse girl in the class! When I was about 13, I started volunteering at a therapeutic riding center, so I got a lot of hands on experience there. I learned to ride a little bit and worked with the special needs kids. That was great. Once I got a job when I was 18, I started paying for actual riding lessons and just went from there!

I did a lot of work on Standardbred breeding farms up in Illinois. I foaled out a lot of babies and trained a lot of weanlings and a lot of yearlings that are now Standardbred race horses. I did that for three years during college, and that was a really neat experience.

What led you to pursue a career as veterinary technician?

Throughout high school, I was really always obsessed with horses. I volunteered with any of my free time. I knew I wanted to do something that I loved, so I found Southern Illinois University, and they had a bachelor’s degree in equine science. I applied to one school, got in, and it was perfect. I didn’t have to find a bunch of schools; I just went to the one that I wanted right away, and I knew what I wanted to do!

What led to your focus on the nuclear scintigraphy lab in particular?

I’ve always had a strong interest in the anatomy of horses. I knew a lot of the anatomy from college of course. We had a lot of courses that covered the musculature anatomy as well as skeletal. In addition, working with all of the Standardbred yearlings is really good experience for working with the two and three-year-old race babies that we get here. Just that extra horse handling really comes in handy.

What is your typical day like at PBEC?

As the manager of the nuclear scintigraphy lab, I have the horses in here for bone scans. They’ll come in, I’ll do a temperature, pulse, and respiration check on them, and then I place a catheter and inject the radioactive isotopes.

It takes two hours for the isotope to settle into the bones, and then I can begin the scan. I usually inject the isotope, and then I do a lot of paperwork in between the two hours since there’s a lot of tracking and recording for dealing with radioactive materials. Then the scan begins. The horse comes into the room; they’re lightly sedated. The scans usually take from one to two hours or, for full body scan, anywhere from two to four hours. It’s a lot of keeping the horse sedated and keeping him quiet, getting all of the images that are needed, and making sure that the images turn out well. That’s pretty much my ideal day. Usually during season, we have anywhere from two to three horses a day so it keeps you busy.

What do you enjoy most about working for PBEC?

I love the variety of horses that we get here. We get everything from race horses to polo ponies to barrel ponies to top show jumpers and hunters. It’s really neat seeing all of these talented and often expensive horses.

Have you had any standout or favorite moments since you joined the PBEC team in 2015?

We went down to Miami for the Longines Global Champions Tour for when they took the horses off the plane. We were able to help out with that – doing temperatures, pulse, and respiration checks on all of them. It was really cool seeing the caravan from the airport to the show grounds and just how it’s set up on the beach. That was a pretty neat experience.

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not working?

My fiancé and I go fishing a lot usually at the beach or off a pier; we definitely enjoy spending our free time fishing.