USPC is proud of our Alumni. In this new series we will be highlighting some Alumni who have been successful after they have graduated from Pony Club. Do you know an Alumni who should be highlighted? Submit ideas to Mandy@ponyclub.org!
Heather Capps Drager is an B graduate of Guadalupe Pony Club (now called Watermelon Mountain Pony Club) in the Southwest Region.
A tanned, fit, apple-cheeked mother of a lively 10-year-old daughter, Heather Capps Drager lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico with her horses and family. She is active in the medical profession as a physician assistant, and she is the District Commissioner of Southwest Region’s Watermelon Mountain Pony Club. She also events at the Intermediate Level aboard her horse, Noblesse Oblige, on whom she finished 9th in the 2015 — USEA American Eventing Championships and 5th there in 2014 at the Preliminary level.
Heather took a few minutes out of her crazy-busy life to answer some questions about how she got where she is today.
First, what is your career?
My current job is a physician assistant. This is not a nurse, but a skilled professional who serves in a similar role to your doctor. In order to be a physician assistant you need an undergraduate degree usually in biology or chemistry and then it is a 28-month program over about three years.
Had you considered a career with horses, or was this I always what you had in mind?
I knew I wanted to work in the medical profession. Most people expected me to go to vet school, but there was not a veterinary program here in New Mexico.
Did your Pony Club background help you become the professional you are today?
The skills that I learned in Pony Club that help me with my chosen field include the studying that goes into a certification which was very helpful in getting through tough academic classes. Pony Club also teaches you to work with others and be part of the team.
Some of the basic medical skills are similar to such as taking vital signs or or applying bandages. And with people they are actually able to tell you where they hurt or why they are sick, which is a little different than horses.
The biggest event that helped me with these skills was accomplishing my B certification. I think that in Pony Club the examiners are very tough and expect you to meet very high expectations. But that led me to set very high expectations for myself in my practice and provide the best medical care for my patients.
What other components of your PC background have helped you?
One of the skills that I feel I learned in Pony Club was good communication skills with examiners. This became really valuable during college — In school during rotations in the hospital you are constantly giving a brief synopsis of patients that you were caring for and the plan for their treatment, which is very similar to the experiences I had with examiners during certifications and Horse Management at a rally.
Do you have a particular fond memory of your PC days?
One of the fun memories that I have of Pony Club is attending Championships and finishing as the eighth place B team in 1986 in Kentucky, and we were able to walk the Rolex cross country course with Mike Plumb.
Is there something you wish you’d gotten to do during Pony Club?
The one thing that I would choose not to miss in Pony Club is that I would’ve finished my A certification. At the time I was very involved in eventing in Young Riders and in the Southwest at the time the two programs weren’t as complementary to each other as they are now, so I had to choose.