Otaki vet retires after lengthy career

By David Haxton -
PASSIONATE: Vet Graham Carthew has been helping horses for more than four decades.
PASSIONATE: Vet Graham Carthew has been helping horses for more than four decades.

After a career spanning nearly 50 years, Otaki veterinarian Graham Carthew has retired.

Carthew, 70, has been a well-known figure in the local veterinary scene since opening a clinic in Mill Rd, Otaki, in 1974.

Latterly he started Equine and Farm Veterinary Services, which is known as Vets on Riverbank, in Riverbank Rd, Otaki.

His main area of interest has been equine health, which he developed an interest in during the 1980s when the horse industry was booming in the Otaki and Waikanae areas.

"At that time there was something like 600 mares foaling in his area.

"And during the stud season I would be looking at something like 60 mares a day, so my interest in reproductive medicine really grew.

"The racing industry here was very strong, too, with a lot of horses trained here."

Carthew would use various treatments and operations for mares that were having difficulty with breeding, and would use sports medicine in the thoroughbred racing scene.

But everything changed with the share market crash in 1987 "and hasn't really recovered since then."

Suddenly the value of mares dropped significantly and stud farms either went broke or really struggled, he said.

"A lot of people lost a lot of money."

Carthew has a compelling memory of helping a mare in Taumarunui, where he worked for four years after graduating as a veterinary surgeon in 1970.

The mare, who was in foal, had staked herself on a fence and had about four metres of intestine hanging out of a wound in her abdomen.

Part of the intestine was dragging on the ground.

"It was Friday night, the other two vets in the practice had gone away for the weekend, and I was by myself.

"Fortunately they had a neighbour who was a retired human surgeon so he came over and I anaesthetised the mare, operated and then stitched it all together.

"The mare actually survived, did very well and foaled.

"I remember arriving at the scene, and the owner wasn't all that happy having the new graduate there, but afterwards I was top of the pops."

Carthew, who was the only vet between Levin and Tawa in the early days, is thankful to his wife, Ann, as well as the many clients and staff who have been supportive throughout the years.

"It has been a career that I have loved."

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