What Does an Equine Vet Do?

Equine vets are licensed veterinarians who specialize in caring for horses. These professionals must earn a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine and pass the North American Veterinary Licensing Exam to work in the field. Learn more about the job duties and requirements, as well as career outlook for equine veterinarians by reading on. Schools offering Animal Care degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Equine Veterinarians Job Responsibilities

As an equine vet, you work long hours in the outdoors, including under loud conditions and severe weather. You may travel to farms or ranches to provide care to these large animals. These professionals also consult with horse ranchers, owners, racers, breeders and trainers to assess horses' health issues. Equine vets may be self-employed and work out of a private practice or be part of a veterinary team within an animal hospital.

Some vets specialize in one aspect of equine medicine, such as fertility, surgery, special procedures or research. You can choose to work with a particular type of horse, such as farm, race or ranch horses. Your specialty might also impact your job duties. For example, if you specialize in caring for race horses, you might become a member of a horse racing team that travels to various competitions.

Important Facts About This Occupation

Similar Occupations Veterinary Assistant, Laboratory Animal Caretaker, Wildlife Biologist, Zoologist
Work Environment Private veterinary practice, farms and ranches
On-the-Job Training Internships (typically about one year) are available
Required Education Mandatory formal training, experience in health science or informal work with animals

Job Duties

In general, equine vets provide primary medical care for horses. As an equine vet, you prescribe individualized health programs and diets for your patients. You also test for diseases, administer vaccinations and oversee the birthing process. In the event of illness or injury, you diagnose the condition, develop a treatment plan and often carry out the treatment regimen. This can involve sterilizing and bandaging wounds, performing surgery or setting fractures.

Education and Licensure

To become an equine vet, you must earn a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree by completing four years of veterinary school. You also need to obtain a veterinary license, which typically entails passage of the North American Veterinary Licensing Exam. Depending on the state, you may also be required to pass an exam on veterinary regulations and a practical exam. To specialize in equine medicine, veterinarians must complete 3-4 years of residency training in the specialty and become board-certified equine veterinarians.

You're also required to complete continuing education throughout your career to maintain licensure and certification. The American Association of Equine Practitioners is one of several professional associations with frequent professional and legislative updates to help you keep your skills current (www.aaep.org).

Additional Skills

Along with expertise in equine medicine, this career requires a strong knowledge of local diseases and environmental hazards that can affect the health of horses. Equine vets must be in good physical health due to the manual labor involved in working with horses. Strong communication skills are also beneficial when corresponding with horse owners and other professionals.

Career and Salary Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted that employment of veterinarians would grow 12% between 2012 and 2022, which is average (www.bls.gov). This projected increase is partly due to a growing pet population and advances in veterinary medicine. Because there are a limited number of veterinary school graduates every year, job opportunities are expected to be good. Veterinarians who want to work with large animals, such as horses, should have even better opportunities since most want to work with companion animals. The BLS reported that veterinarians earned a mean annual wage of $87,590 in 2014.

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