Courtney Pink '01
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Courtney Pink '01

Race Horse Veterinarian

Courtney Pink and some of her patients.

For Courtney C. Pink, DVM, the Department of Chemistry was her home away from home during the four years that she was earning her BS in chemistry-biology at the University of Hartford. “Everyone in the department worked together and supported one another. It was more than a community; we were a family,” Pink recalls.

Like most families there was some tough love. While preparing for her conference poster sessions or undergraduate presentations, the chemistry faculty asked Pink questions that were more challenging than those posed by any audience member she ever faced. Clearly, this rigorous preparation paid off. Today, Pink is a resident equine veterinarian at Hanover Shoe Farms, in Hanover, Pa., the largest standard-bred horse farm in North America.

After graduating from the University of Hartford in 2001, Pink packed everything she owned and moved across the country to attend the Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine. Upon graduation in 2005 Pink completed an internship on a thoroughbred-breeding farm, Hill-N-Dale, in Lexington, Ky. It was there she was mentored by Dr. Terry Blanchard, a world-renowned expert in equine theriogenology, a branch of veterinary medicine concerned with reproduction. With this experience under her belt, Pink landed her current position at Hanover Shoe Farms. After joining Hanover, Pink pursued further training at Colorado State University, where she became certified in embryo transfers.

In her role as resident veterinarian, Pink has a tremendous amount of responsibility. In addition to overseeing two veterinarians and two veterinary assistants, Pink manages 400 broodmares a year, including those with high-risk pregnancies and deliveries; she performs all embryo transfers; she cares for all neonates, including “dummy foals” (i.e., foals that exhibit abnormal, vague behaviors and/or neurologic signs during their first few days of life); and she provides routine care for approximately 1,300 horses. Pink also handles all preparations for sales of more than 300 yearlings a year.

Pink is grateful for the preparation she received in the College of Arts and Sciences, where her belief that “you need to work hard in order to achieve success” was strongly reinforced. As a first-year student, Pink was invited by Laura Pence, PhD, to join her research group, which led to a poster session presentation at the American Chemical Society national meeting the following summer. This whet Pink’s appetite for scholarly work and she went on to present her research at the annual undergraduate symposia for the local American Chemical Society meeting her sophomore, junior, and senior years. Today Pink remains engaged in several research projects on the farm, including one that will be published this fall in the Journal of Equine Veterinary Education. Pink also benefited from her participation in the A&S honors program, which prepared her well for the rigors of veterinary school curriculum.

Several people mentored Pink during her time at the University of Hartford, chief among them was Pence. According to Pink, “Dr. Pence’s office was a place of learning, not only chemistry lessons but life lessons. It’s hard to sum up in a word, a quote, or a single story how great she was as a mentor during my undergraduate studies and how I still gain inspiration and strength from the accomplishments she continues to attain. We both are lifelong learners and will continue to seek new knowledge daily striving to excel in our respective fields.”

Professor Pence recalls the following anecdote about Pink: “As part of being qualified for graduate school, Courtney spent one day a week during her senior year working as a vet tech for a local veterinarian.  One morning she came into my office announcing, ‘Yesterday I wrestled a goat!’  I asked, ‘Who won?’  She exclaimed, ‘I did!’ and I replied, ‘I would have put money on the goat.’  I don’t think I ever bet against Courtney again, and she’s proved me right every time.” Pink is also grateful for the support of other chemistry faculty. “Although Drs. Jim Shattuck and Harry Workman were not my advisors or research mentors, I still always felt as if I were part of their research teams,“ she said.

Today Pink lives in an old farmhouse with her two cats and dog. She also owns three horses: a broodmare who has a foal on her side and a 2-year-old racehorse. In her spare time, which is not during the breeding season, Pink enjoys long-distance running and has run both half and full marathons.