Carrie Jacobs’ pathway to becoming an equine surgeon started with riding lessons when she was around 11.
“I always wanted a pony, and my parents thought I was crazy,” said Jacobs, who grew up in Flint, Michigan. “Somehow, one day I actually convinced them to let me take riding lessons and the rest was history.”
Riding lessons turned into cleaning stalls for more riding lessons and eventually that turned into cleaning lots of stalls to help with the cost of board for her Arabian gelding, Michelob. She joined the local 4-H club and started showing her horse on a local Arabian horse show circuit. She also started raising and showing livestock — pygmy goats, cattle and sheep — through 4-H as well. The more she learned about large animals and large animal veterinary medicine, the more interested she became in making it her career.
Jacobs received her undergraduate degree in zoology from Michigan State University, where she also earned her DVM. After veterinary school, she completed a rotating internship in large animal surgery, medicine and emergency at the University of Pennsylvania’s New Bolton Center.
Her interest in large animal surgery was solidified. Jacobs then stayed at the New Bolton Center to complete a residency and a fellowship in large animal surgery, where she saw and treated a diverse population of cases from backyard pet goats to Olympic-level event horses.
Jacobs later returned home, where she was a clinical assistant professor in large animal surgery and sports medicine at Michigan State University. Her desire to focus on lameness and orthopedics led her to NC State.
As clinical assistant professor of equine orthopedic surgery at the NC State Veterinary Hospital’s Equine and Farm Animal Veterinary Center, Jacobs splits her time between treating patients, teaching veterinary students and clinical research. Her research interests include the diagnosis and management of equine orthopedic infection and image-guided surgery.
Why did you want to work in surgery?
Going through my clinical rotations in veterinary school I really enjoyed surgery, but it wasn’t until my internship where I was exposed to a wide variety of equine surgical cases that I decided it for me. I liked the idea that I could have a fairly well-defined problem — which I’ve learned isn’t always the case! — that I could fix in the operating room.
What’s something someone would be surprised to learn about you?
This might not be surprising at all, but I am a huge Michigan State football and basketball fan and can often be found cheering, or usually yelling, during the games. Go Green!
When you’re not on campus, where could we find you?
Since moving to Raleigh, I’ve started doing CrossFit. Before coronavirus, I was usually at the gym early before work. But with gyms not operating normally, I’ve been doing virtual workouts on my porch in the mornings before work. I’m definitely not the strongest or the most hardcore person at the gym, but at least I’m moving!
My husband and I also recently purchased a historic home in downtown Raleigh and are in the process of renovating that. It has been an adventure — he has done a majority of the work with some design influence from me — but it’s coming along.
Do you have any pets?
Yes, two rescue dogs that my husband and I love to go hiking with. Chuck is a hound mix and Sammy is a pit and Lab mix. We also have two cats, Ernie and Oscar, who I have had since vet school. When I started vet school, I wanted to get a cat and the shelter I went to offered a BOGO deal on kittens, so I ended up with two!