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Equine veterinarians – what they do

An equine veterinarian is one who has expertise in treating horses. Graduating with a veterinary degree in Australia allows you to become an equine vet, however, gaining as much experience as possible in equine veterinary practice during veterinary training is important if you wish to become an equine veterinarian. Undertaking supplementary education and training increases your knowledge and skills in specific topics, broadens your career opportunities and helps to define your particular areas of interest.

Career opportunities

There are careers for equine veterinarians in equine private practice, mixed veterinary practice, specialist referral centres, academia, research, and the racing and show industries. Whether you are a new graduate or have been in practice for a number of years, there are opportunities for further specialist training in particular fields, including medicine and surgery, through internship and residency programs.

Skills needed

As with many other professions, the job of equine veterinarian requires a broad range of skills. It’s important to enjoy interacting with both people and horses. Good communication skills are important as clients rely on veterinarians to help them keep their horse in the best of health and a desire to help animals allows a sense of satisfaction when patients thrive under your care and make a full recovery from illness or injury. Equine veterinarians often spend a large amount of their time outside in the field and travelling between properties, so a keen sense of adventure and enjoyment of the outdoors is also important. Horses are large animals; so equine veterinarians require excellent animal handling skills to ensure they work with their patients in a safe manner.

What does the job entail?

A description of life as an equine vet would include the words exciting, challenging, dynamic, rewarding and inspiring. Each patient has their individual needs and as veterinarians, they work through each case, understand it and manage it. Equine veterinarians deal with horses from a range of disciplines including racing, dressage, show jumping, eventing, endurance riding, polo, pleasure horses, kids ponies and family pets, which adds diversity to their profession. Equine veterinarians not only treat unwell or injured horses, but also play a key role in the management of breeding, feeding and preventative health care such as parasite prevention and vaccination, exercise and physiotherapy, dental care and hoof care.

Equine Veterinarians Australia

Equine Veterinarians Australia (EVA) is a special interest group of the Australian Veterinary Association. EVA is the representative body for equine veterinarians in Australia, offering membership to veterinarians who treat horses as part of their practice. EVA was formed in 1971 and has 1000 members in Australia, New Zealand, England, Hong Kong, Singapore, USA and South Africa. 

EVA services the needs of these members and also acts as a representative body for the interests of equine veterinarians within the Australian horse industry. EVA also advises upon horse health issues as an active stakeholder in the equine industry.

The key objectives of EVA are to elevate equine veterinary standards, further research and knowledge of equine diseases, deliver postgraduate equine veterinary continuing professional development and to promote its members as providers of the very best quality care for their equine patients.