Surprising Turns in the Equestrian World Unmask an Unlikely Hero Bridging the Gap in Animal Healthcare

Published 09/29/2023, 3:55 PM EDT

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Veterinarians are an important part of the equestrian industry. They are the ones who take care of the horses when they fall ill or are injured and in the reproduction process. They also guide the owners and those responsible for looking after the equine on matters of hygiene, safety, and care.

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But, unfortunately, there has been a decline in practicing equine veterinarians or students’ interest in pursuing the study. There are various factors behind the cause, some related to work-life balance, working conditions, and pay. However, after brainstorming by the concerned vets and experts, a unique method to create interest among the young to pursue the career was found and it has shown its results.

Equestrian world’s new method to shorten the gap

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As per the studies of the US Census Bureau, by the year 2025, there will be an anticipated shortage of 15,000 veterinarians. According to paulickreport, in the midst of finding a solution to the problem of equine health and care, Dr. Shannon Kelly Reed, a clinical associate professor of large animal surgery at Texas A&M University, came up with a unique idea. She introduced veterinarians to a Thoroughbred Makeover program which later took the shape of a contest. In the program, the Retired Racehorse Project hosted a training competition in which retired racing horses were trained for new careers in just 10 months.

Dr. Reed, who supported the thoroughbred of horses for other than racing purposes, took part in the training herself in the years 2017 and 2018. The event required trainers to get approval first but for many participants, this was their first shot in training. After discussions with the organizers, Dr. Reed implemented a mandatory veterinary exam, covering vital signs, soundness, heartbeat, and overall body score of the equines. This initiative aimed to generate interest among college veterinary students and provide amateur trainers with a deeper understanding of horses.

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Veterinary students’ growing interest in equestrian program

In the inaugural year of the veterinary exam’s introduction, Dr. Reed, along with six other veterinarians from Hagyard and Boehringer-Ingelheim, participated in the examination of 300 horses. Dr. Reed initially called for student volunteers, receiving an enthusiastic response. Buoyed by this success, she formalized the program by introducing a structured application process. The response was overwhelming, with 350 students expressing interest for 30 available spots. Building on the positive experiences of the previous year, increased interest led to the allocation of stipends to assist students traveling from outside in covering their trip expenses.

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The new program not only motivated students to pursue a career in the field but also provided them with invaluable first-hand experience that might be challenging to obtain during a regular internship. The program emerged as a boon for the equestrian industry, fostering a bridge between aspiring veterinarians and the practicalities of equine care.

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Written by:

Saiful Khan

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Saiful is an American Sports writer at Essentially Sports who specializes in Rodeo and equestrian. His passion for sports extends to the field of equestrianism and is fascinated by the speed of horses as he is by the wrath of bull riding. Being an avid sports enthusiast, Saiful is a big admirer of the mastery of British equestrian Charlotte Dujardin.
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Edited by:

Suman Varandani

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