Get to Know

Get to Know Kristina Slaby

Kristina Slaby with her dog, Jax.

Kristina Slaby, pictured with dog Jax, is the practice coordinator at Midwest Equine at Illinois.

When did you begin working at the College of Veterinary Medicine?
I started in May 2022 as a veterinary assistant for Midwest Equine. I have a lot of horse experience, but only had ever been on the client side of veterinary medicine. I was in that position for a year, learning about veterinary medicine basics and how the office works. This meant that in August of 2023 I was able to step right into my current role as Midwest Equine’s Practice Coordinator.

Describe your role at the college.
In the position of Practice Coordinator at Midwest Equine I am commonly told that I am the jack-of-all-trades. You can find me longeing horses on clinic days for lameness exams, cleaning stalls on non-clinic days to prepare for the next week, triaging emergency calls, and helping with the financial side of our clinic. Not one day looks the same for me, and that is how I like it! I get to use my business skills and horse knowledge to help Midwest Equine grow each year.

Have you held any previous titles or responsibilities at the college?
Working for Midwest Equine as a veterinary assistant was my first time being employed by the University. I did attend the University of Illinois twice, first for my Bachelor of Science in Molecular and Cellular Biology, then for my Master of Science in Management. I like to say that I am a triple Illini, now being employed by the school as well!

What is your favorite part of your job?
You’ll never believe it…but I love meetings. I like getting to communicate with different people, learning what their ideas are, and seeing what I can put into practice at Midwest Equine. We are out in rural Farmer City, so we experience different issues than the Veterinary Teaching Hospital does. I have to problem solve lots of technological issues to adapt to our rural setting! I also love getting to combine my various backgrounds to be successful in my job. Having a detailed biology background allows me to understand the veterinary medicine side, my management experience gives me the financial understanding of our business, and my horse knowledge helps me communicate with our clients and patients!

Complete this sentence: My most memorable day at work was…
… having a standardbred filly run straight at me on the longe line! Everyone at Midwest Equine knows I love the difficult horses, and will be smiling when the horses express themselves on the line. This horse was a little different than that, and really tested my experience. I learned that day to never trust that a racing standardbred knows how to longe.

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
I am a busy bee in my free time. I teach riding lessons at a local barn in St. Joseph where I am the assistant coach for the University of Illinois Hunt Seat riding team, and for the barn’s Interscholastic Equestrian Association team. I ride my redheaded, one-eyed, Thoroughbred mare regularly, and take her to small Indiana jumper shows when I can. If I am not in the barn, then I am probably at home hanging out with my dog Jax!

What is something your co-workers may be surprised to know about you?
My co-workers all know me very well, but they might be surprised to know that I love to cross-country and downhill ski! Unfortunately, living in central Illinois makes that hard to access, but I used to go to Colorado once a year for a week. Outside of horseback riding, that was always my next favorite activity.

What is one thing on your bucket list?
I really want to do a one-week horseback riding vacation one day! My dream is to go through Globetrotting, an Australian travel agency that tests out these rides. When I first started following the company, there were only Australian rides, or African Safari rides. 10 years later, they offer rides in Africa, Europe, Central America, South America, and Australia. I do not know how I will pick when I eventually do bite the bullet!

Do you have a favorite restaurant or place in the Champaign/Urbana area?
My favorite restaurant has to be Big Grove Tavern in downtown Champaign! They always have great food and drinks, and wonderful service. I have been going there since I was a freshman in 2016!

Aside from necessities, what one thing could you not go a day without?
Red Bull! Unfortunately, I am a caffeine addict. I even got our customer service representative Karen addicted to Red Bull, so now our clinic fridge is always stocked full!

Do you have any pets?
I have my 14-year-old pug mix dog, Jax. He is super cute but anyone who has seen him at the small animal clinic knows he is a gremlin if he needs to be seen by the vets! I also own a 14-year-old one-eyed thoroughbred mare named Nina. She came to me very green, and over the last three years is finally settling into her job. I like to take her to small jumper shows in central Indiana over the summers.

Kristina Slaby's dog, Jax
Kristina Slaby riding her thoroughbred mare, Nina.