The American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) applauds Dr. Beau Whitaker, the June honoree of the Good Works for Horses campaign, whose volunteer efforts are helping facilitate the horse-human connection to improve the health and well-being of those with physical and mental disabilities in greater Austin, Texas.
Good Works for Horses, sponsored by AAEP Educational Partner Zoetis, honors AAEP-member practitioners whose volunteer efforts are having a positive impact on the equine community. Dr. Whitaker was one of several AAEP-member veterinarians nominated for the award in June by horse owners and equine organizations. Also recognized for their industry altruism were runners-up Dr. Eleanor Kellon, owner of Equine Nutritional Solutions in Robesonia, Penn.; and Dr. Erin Denney-Jones, owner of Florida Equine Veterinary Services, Inc. in Clermont, Fla.
A partner at Brazos Valley Equine Hospital in Salado, Texas, Dr. Whitaker has volunteered in multiple roles since 2012 with Horse Empowered Learning Programs, Inc. (HELP), a PATH International-certified non-profit in Pflugerville, Texas, which provides therapeutic riding and equine-facilitated learning opportunities to individuals with physical, emotional, and cognitive challenges. Dr. Whitaker has overseen the health of the program’s horses for the past 10 years in addition to serving on the board of directors from 2012–2018 and on the Scholarship Committee since 2017.
As herd veterinarian, Dr. Whitaker ensures the program’s horses can fulfill their vital role as equine partners to their determined riders. This includes not only treating and managing age-related and other medical conditions, but also securing grants from industry partners for free or deeply discounted medications and vaccines. In addition, Dr. Whitaker evaluates potential horse donations to ensure a suitable demeanor and manageable health issues before acceptance into the program’s herd.
Although he recently relinquished primary responsibility for herd health to his practice colleague and fellow HELP volunteer Dr. Jamie Ashbrook, Dr. Whitaker has increased his focus on the work of the Scholarship Committee, which raises money to provide financial assistance for children whose parents would otherwise struggle to afford participation in the program.
“It’s gratifying to be at least a small part of a program that does so much good for children,” said Dr. Whitaker. “I’ve been able to see what equine-assisted therapy does for children with physical, emotional or mental disabilities and how those kids can be transformed through that kind of work.”
From June through August 2022, the AAEP’s Good Works for Horses campaign will spotlight AAEP-member practitioners whose volunteer efforts are improving the health and welfare of horses. To nominate a Good Works candidate, visit the AAEP website. For more information on nominating a veterinarian for this program, contact Giulia Garcia.
The American Association of Equine Practitioners, headquartered in Lexington, Kentucky, was founded in 1954 as a non-profit organization dedicated to the health and welfare of the horse. Currently, AAEP reaches more than 5 million horse owners through its over 9,000 members worldwide and is actively involved in ethics issues, practice management, research and continuing education in the equine veterinary profession and horse industry.