Equine Health Update EHU Vol 20 Issue 01 - Page 38

EQUINE | SAEVA News About Jim Jim, or to give his full name, Ronald James, was born, bred and raised in Northern and Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe and Zambia). His father was an en- gineer who built bridges for the railways and Jim says he always naturally assumed he would follow in his father’s footsteps and study engineering. However, having started University in KZN, he was about two weeks in when he went to see his counsellor and said he wanted to change to veterinary. The reply was not very encouraging as he didn’t even have the correct subjects, but he managed to change and a year later was accepted into Onderstepoort. He was home in Bulawayo when they received a telegram confirming his acceptance. Unfortunately it was written in Afri- kaans, so the family had to find an Afrikaans speak- ing neighbor before they could decipher what it said! However, the Engineering field’s loss was the veteri- nary profession’s gain. local cattle farmers did not want him working on their animals – and one particularly tetchy old gent insisted that the ‘Engelsman’ wait by the gate while his Afri- kaans speaking colleague attended to the cows. But bit by bit he won them over. A few things also get lost in translation and Jim has hilarious stories including advising one hapless client seeking help with an ‘eek- horing’ to feed it worms. “Well, they said it fell out of a tree!” he laughs. Another incident included a muddle over the word ‘muis’ which while generally used to refer to a rodent, is also used for describing bovine reproductive anatomy, which caused the young vet much bemusement, but it is worth hearing him tell the stories to fully appreciate them. Although Wellington Animal Hospital is a general practice, he found him- self doing a lot of work for ‘little studs’, many of which are now gone, but gradually the horse work built up. With his usual eye for the humour in any situation, Jim arrived in Pretoria. At his first lecture the lecturer asked the class – in Afrikaans – whether anyone had trouble understanding the language. Blissfully un- aware what was being asked, a fellow student had to nudge Jim to put his hand in the air (and then explain what for!). It wasn’t the first time the language barrier would be a problem. After qualifying, the Zim bush war meant there was no veterinary work at home, so young Jim came back to South Africa and eventually found lo- cum work and finally a permanent position at Wel- lington Animal Hospital – where he still works today. Being in an agricultural part of the Boland, his lack of Afrikaans again proved a challenge as some of the 38 • Equine Health Update •