Cash with students

A Tribute to Isle Cash In - A Horse That Taught From the Heart

In Memoriam - CEH Teaching Herd Horse Isle Cash In

Cash profile pic

Isle Cash In - Cash to his friends - came to the Center for Equine Health in 2001. During his 20 years as part of our teaching herd, he taught hundreds of veterinary students about the equine heart. Cash recently passed away peacefully from natural causes related to his heart condition.

Cash exhibited exercise intolerance when he was put into training as a two-year-old, but was otherwise healthy. He was diagnosed with tetralogy of Fallot, a rare condition that affects the flow of blood through the heart. Affected horses are not suitable for riding or any type of athletic work.

Fortunately, Cash found a second career teaching the art of cardiac auscultation (listening to the heart with a stethoscope) and echocardiography (cardiac ultrasound) to UC Davis veterinary students. Thanks to Cash, the students learned to hear and characterize his heart murmur and then see the structural changes that produced it. Cash also helped many internal medicine residents refine their skills in cardiac ultrasound so that more veterinarians will be familiar with this condition.

ultrasound images of Cash's heart
Ultrasound images of Cash's heart. The left image shows the large opening between the ventricles (LV = left ventricle, RV = right ventricle), known as a ventricular septal defect (VSD).  The defect allows blood to flow from the left to right ventricle when the heart contracts. The image on the right represents the same view, but with the aortic (Ao) valve open, making it easier to measure the size of the VSD (4.51 cm).


“Cash was the first horse donated to CEH to help students hear murmurs and diagnose their cause,” said Dr. Mary Beth Whitcomb, professor emeritus in the Department of Surgical and Radiological Sciences. “I am so thankful to my classmate, Dr. Erin Byrne of Alamo Pintado, who contacted me when his owners opted for donation. She knew of my interest to have horses like Cash to enhance our teaching. Since 2000, we have had five horses with varying murmurs and cardiac abnormalities that have helped the next generation of veterinarians learn even more about equine cardiology.  I’m also especially thankful to CEH for supporting these horses throughout my career at UC Davis.”

Cash walking

Cash always had a wonderful demeanor and was very cooperative. He knew his job so well that during exams he would stand with his right leg forward to ease placement of the ultrasound probe as long as it took for someone to get an image.

“Isle Cash In was a constant presence in cardiology laboratories for nearly 20 years,” said Dr. Emily Berryhill of the UC Davis veterinary hospital’s Equine Internal Medicine service. “The opportunity for students and residents to get to hear the sounds associated with his rare heart condition was invaluable. He will always be remembered fondly and appreciated for his role in teaching equine veterinarians.”

We are grateful to Cash for his years of service and contributions to veterinary education and advances in equine health. He was well loved by all and is already sorely missed.