Equine veterinarians work with breeders, owners, riders, trainers and others to treat, vaccinate, diagnose and protect the health of horses.
The American Association of Equine Practitioners says, “It is anticipated that more equine veterinarians than ever before will be needed in the coming years to provide the care that owners desire for their horses as well as to continue the tremendous advances in equine research. There has never been a better time to become an equine veterinarian.”
Most practitioners run a solo practice, or work with a few other doctors in a surgical or referral hospital. Horse veterinarians typically make stable calls, visiting the animals at farms and ranches rather than having them brought to their offices. Others use their Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (or DVM) to work in research, teaching, regulatory medicine, business and more.
What you need:
Becoming a doctor of veterinary medicine means vet school is in your future. Undergraduate coursework can be in any subject area you wish, because vet schools do not require a specific major – only that you get the prerequisites. If you want to become a veterinarian for horses, studying equine science/studies alongside your prerequisites for vet school (chemistry, biology, zoology and biochemistry) serves as great practice, further understanding and proof of your love for the horse.
Undergraduate students take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) and the Veterinary College Admission Test (VCAT). Applying for spots in Veterinary Medicine programs is a competitive process, as there are currently only 34 colleges or schools of veterinary medicine in the US. (See the AAVMC for a complete list of these schools.) Once you get to vet school, you can specialize in large animal or equine medicine.
William Woods students who enroll in Equestrian studies can also take the prerequisite courses for veterinary school, even often adding a minor or second major. William Woods offers several horse anatomy, physiology and pre-vet courses, such as Practical Equine Anatomy & Conditioning or Veterinary Medicine and Reproduction for seniors. Talk to your professors and advisers and join William Woods Pre-Veterinary Club, for help in the Veterinary school application process.
All 50 states require vets to be licensed. Receiving licensure varies from state to state. The exam is offered by the National Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners (NBVME).
Check out the American Association of Equine Practitioners for more information.
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