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Equine Rehabilitation Careers

Explore the career requirements for equine rehabilitation. Get the facts about education and licensure requirements, salary, and potential job growth to determine if this is the right career for you.

What Careers Are Available in Equine Rehabilitation?

Equine rehabilitation is a specialty area of veterinary medicine. It focuses on the care, treatment and conditioning of horses who may be athletes, pets or working farm animals. Equine rehabilitation veterinarians may treat horses suffering from back, leg, muscle and tendon injuries and work with animals with chronic conditions, such as osteoarthritis. These vets may also perform surgery, advise owners on the medical condition of their animal and give them general care information. If necessary, they will prescribe medications for the horse and train owners on how to give shots. Professional certification in equine rehab is available to vets who meet the requirements.

Consider the information in the following table to determine if a career in equine rehabilitation is right for you.

Degree Required Doctor of Veterinary Medicine
Education Field of Study Biology, anatomy, physiology, animal science
Key Skills Compassion, decision making, management, and problem solving skills
Licensure Required Required by all states and the District of Columbia
Job Growth (2018-2028) 18% for all veterinarians*
Median Salary (2018) $93,830 for all veterinarians*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Educational Programs are Available?

If you want to work in equine rehabilitation, you may want to first complete a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (D.V.M.) degree program. Entrance requirements typically include an undergraduate degree or the completion of 45-90 undergraduate credits, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics ('www.bls.gov). Once you complete your schooling, you can then go on to receive a veterinary license and additional training to specialize in equine rehabilitation.

If you choose not to obtain a D.V.M. or become a licensed veterinarian, you may obtain some general training in the field through a bachelor's degree program in equine studies or through on-the-job training in a job such as veterinary technician. Some postgraduate programs and certification programs in this field are available for physical therapists, physical therapy assistants and veterinary technicians.

What Credentials Can I Receive?

Certification for veterinarians who are interested in rehabilitating athletic horses is available from the American College of Veterinary Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation (ACVSMR). To apply for certification, you must qualify through one of the following paths:

  • The initial applicant path is a temporary path to certification while the field becomes established; this path will be discontinued after 2014. This path is for experienced professionals who have demonstrable advanced training, are veterinary school or college faculty members with both a research and clinical background in the field, have published in the field of published and sports medicine, or have a minimum of ten years of experience in the field.
  • The practice experience path requires a minimum of five years of clinical practice, of which at least 50% has been devoted to rehabilitation or sports medicine. You will also be required to complete 125 hours of continuing education and 12 weeks of specialty rotations in areas such as surgery, pain management or diagnostic imaging. Publication in the field of sports medicine or rehabilitation is another requirement.
  • The academic residency path requires that you complete a 3-year residency in a practice or an academic institution with sports medicine and rehabilitation as a focus. You must manage over 300 equine cases. The academic residency path and the related nontraditional path also require publication in the field.
  • The nontraditional path allows you to complete the requirements of the academic path over a 3-6-year period.

Where Could I Work?

Opportunities for work in equine rehabilitation exist in large-animal veterinary practices, whether as a self-employed veterinarian or within a group practice working as a veterinarian or veterinary technician, physical therapist or physical therapy assistant. You may also work with racetracks, stables or horse farms.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

There are multiple other careers related to equine rehabilitation and veterinary medicine, and the education requirements for these careers range from a bachelor's to doctoral degree. With a bachelor's degree, you could find work as a zoologist, studying animals and how they affect ecosystems. Another related job could be as a food scientist where you'd research ways to grow crops more efficiently or run an agricultural organization more safely. With a doctorate, you could choose to work as a general veterinarian or focus on a different group of animals, such as companion or food animals, or even work as a general equine veterinarian.