An equine veterinarian (also known as a horse veterinarian) is a large animal specialist who manages the health and well-being of horses.
They are passionate individuals who work with private breeders, race horse owners, or research facilities to improve the quality of life and provide the utmost care for horses. The horse industry is a diverse and important sector of the national economy. According to statistics gathered from the American Horse Council Foundation, there are 9.2 million horses and about 2 million owners. With the steady rise and growth of the industry, demand for equine medical services should continue to increase at a steady rate in the foreseeable future.
Are you interested to work as a veterinarian of horses? Read on and find out what you need to do to pursue this thrilling career!
Horse veterinarians are licensed large animal health professionals who specialize in the diagnosis, care, and treatment of horses. These horses may range from small ponies and race horses to large work horses.
Some of the services they provide include emergency management, injury treatment, surgical procedures, vaccinations, and assistance with the birth of colts especially during a Cesarean section.
Other duties that equine veterinarians do include, but are not limited to:
• Performing physical examinations
• Drawing blood and taking tissue samples from horses
• Prescribing medications
• Evaluating and suturing of wounds
• Providing post surgery follow-up assessments
Equine veterinarians may often be asked for advice regarding horse diet needs, preventative care, and on how to improve a horse’s performance on the racetrack.
They also typically visit farms and ranches to perform routine check
ups due to the large size or delicate situation of the horses they are seeing. As a result, they may work outdoors under different weather conditions and temperatures.
He or she would also need to be sensitive to their clients’ concerns while still keeping the horse’s health a top priority. An equine veterinarian must have good listening and communication skills in order to become effective on the job. They also need to be very observant and attentive as not all horses are well-trained. Due to their size, horses might prove to be very dangerous given that these large animals might not be used to being handled. Thus, an equine veterinarian would also need to know how to handle and restrain a horse properly.
The first step in becoming a horse veterinarian is to enroll in general science, biology, and chemistry classes while still in high school. A solid foundation in these courses will help prepare you when applying to an undergraduate college or university with a heavy pre-veterinary science curriculum. Aspiring equine veterinarians are initially required to graduate with a bachelor’s degree in any of the health science fields such as biology, biochemistry, and zoology. Depending on the school of your choice, you may then need to take the Veterinary College Admission Test (VCAT) or Medical College Medicine Admission Test (MCAT) to be eligible for acceptance to the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine program.
Gaining entrance into a veterinary school is highly competitive. Therefore, it is recommended for hopeful students to be employed under a veterinarian during their undergraduate studies. The valuable experience gained in the field early on can prove to be a huge advantage over other applicants.
Completing veterinary school and earning your Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree (DVM) typically takes 4 years. After which you are required to take board-certification exams to earn your license to practice legally.
In 2011, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the average starting salary for equine vets was at $43,000 annually, while the median wage for veterinarians was around $79,000. Veterinarians, who are board certified in a particular specialty area such as equine veterinarians, generally earn significantly higher salaries as a result of their advanced education and experience.
Equine veterinarians who specialize in treating horses used in competitions earn significantly higher than those who care for horses raised as pets.As of 2010, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) indicated that there were 89 board certified equine diplomats and 171 board certified large animal surgeons.
Still, the top salaries belong to those who work in equine research facilities or laboratories that focus on developing vaccines and medicines.
Equine veterinarians are required to work long hours, including weekends, and are often expected to be on call for emergencies. Moreover, those who choose to work in private practices spend most of their time on the road travelling from one farm to the next.
Equine veterinarians understand the important relationship between horse and owner as they are often horse owners and enthusiasts as well. Thus, there is no greater feeling than hearing a client’s gratitude over the work done to improve the quality of life for his companion animal.
Now that you’ve learned all there is to know on how to become an equine veterinarian, you can start living your passion by properly preparing for this exciting career today!