Portia Seckerson is the new veterinarian at Chosen Valley Veterinary Clinic. She specializes in on-farm large animal consultations. GRETCHEN MENSINK LOVEJOY/CHATFIELD NEWS
Portia Seckerson is the new veterinarian at Chosen Valley Veterinary Clinic. She specializes in on-farm large animal consultations. GRETCHEN MENSINK LOVEJOY/CHATFIELD NEWS
Portia Seckerson's outstanding in her field.

And she's not just out standing...she's up to her coveralls in cattle and horses.

"Most of my work is out in the field. There are some x-rays that I appreciate people bringing their horses here for....but the day is mostly in the field," said Seckerson, the new veterinarian working at Chosen Valley Veterinary Clinic.

She added that she enjoys working with large animals on farms throughout Chatfield's countryside.

"There might be hard first cases of the day, but there are good cases," she said. "I keep going, drive from one place where it's not a good day, to the next, where I can see a foal that was crippled stand perfectly straight."

Seckerson graduated from the University of Minnesota's veterinary science program on May 10, got married on May 16, had a honeymoon, then started working in the Chatfield clinic on June 2.

"I originally grew up northeast of Rochester on a dairy farm, where we currently milk 380 head," Seckerson said. "I was always really active in 4-H and on the farm, and the other big thing I was into was soccer, but since I was little, I've always wanted to be a vet. I knew I wanted to work with cattle, but I had an internship down in Florida, and that's when I decided I wanted to do equine work as well."

She completed a two-year breeding season internship at Peterson & Smith Equine Hospital in Ocala, Fla., which Seckerson pointed out is the horse capital of the world, with the most horses per square mile.

"I got a lot of hands-on experience and a lot of good guidance," she added. "The vets down there are good at teaching. Growing up on a dairy farm really shaped who I am. Having a strong dairy background, people describe me as hardworking, and I want to do what's best for the animal while taking the families or clients into the matter as well. I try to balance things to do the best I can."

Seckerson met her husband, a farrier, while working at Peterson & Smith, and the pair worked well together, enough to decide that it was time to become a team.

"He's a farrier, and one of my specialties is lameness - and my husband moved up here a couple years ago to start building clientele," she explained. "We both like southeast Minnesota, I have family here, and he likes to fly fish."

She said she started looking for a job early on in the fall while she was still in school and her second choice was to go back to Peterson & Smith because they have high-volume clientele and she felt she could pick up clients quickly.

"I started getting internship offers in southeast Minnesota and I interviewed in a couple different places, but I like the teamwork here," Seckerson said about the Chatfield clinic. "Everyone gets along, there's good mentorship, good clientele - my goal is to do cattle and horses, and the dairy clientele is more progressive, willing to try the mastitis lab I started running here."

Her arrival at Chosen Valley Vet Clinic has kept her busy - she's designed a webpage for the clinic and updated its Facebook page, started the mastitis lab and gotten to know clients across the acres.

"I'm excited to be here," she continued. "Everyone has been really welcoming. It doesn't matter that I'm a new graduate. I thought I was a good fit for this clinic, that I could provide them with some of the things I've learned, and they can provide me with a good mentorship. They're always willing to pick up the phone and help me find where I am when I get lost."

She appreciates the variety of roads and animals she gets to see each day. "The nice thing about veterinary medicine and large animals is that every case is different. I've got a foundered pony that's different from other cases, so I've got to think outside the box," Seckerson said. "The challenge comes with individual animals or herd issues...I've got to think about herd issues as a family's livelihood, so there's that extra pressure as well."

Every day is different and new as Seckerson travels the countryside and she said that she has experienced the unexpected and has spent hours driving around in the dark, looking for mailbox numbers, as she responded to an emergency call.

"The next night I'm on call, it could be really quiet. You never know what you're going to have," she added.

She and her husband occasionally go out to farms together to address equine health problems, as she feels she can trust him to help her determine what the best course of treatment might be.

"As a farrier, he helps with lameness exams. I can trust that he does a good job...there are no second guesses," she said. "We can decide whether a horse needs a therapeutic trim or a corrective shoeing plan, and sometimes we go out together, take x-rays, look at the horse together and come up with a shoeing and therapeutic plan that benefits the horse best. The clinicians at the U of M are really supportive as well, and I'm able to send pictures of cases to them, bounce ideas off them as well."

Seckerson does do some small animal medicine, though mostly for animals on farms as she's making her rounds. "I do small animal emergencies and vaccinate cats and dogs at people's farms," she commented, adding that the clinic does have other veterinarians who specialize in small animals, beef cattle and more.

"I have to stay on top of the new information - as a mixed veterinarian, it's hard to stay on top of that, but here, it's nice that we can feed off of each other and learn," Seckerson added. "I think that's one thing that works well with this clinic. Nobody's afraid to ask for help."

She likes to play soccer, ride horseback and go fly fishing when she's not out standing in the field.

To schedule equine or dairy appointments with Seckerson, call the Chosen Valley Veterinary Clinic at (507) 867-3610(507) 867-3610.