Whitaker is honored for his decade of volunteer service with Horse Empowered Learning Programs Inc. (HELP), which provides therapeutic riding and equine-facilitated learning opportunities to individuals in greater Austin, Texas, with physical, emotional, and cognitive challenges. Whitaker was recognized Nov. 19 during the opening session at the AAEP’s 68th Annual Convention, in San Antonio, Texas. In conjunction, a $1,000 donation to HELP is being made in Whitaker’s name.
From June through August 2022, the Good Works for Horses campaign spotlighted selfless acts of service performed by AAEP members that are having a positive effect on the equine community. Horse owners and organizations were encouraged to nominate AAEP members for monthly recognition. Three veterinarians were recognized each month in a Win-Place-Show order, and each month’s overall winner remained eligible for the grand prize.
Until recently, Whitaker, the June honoree, oversaw health of the program’s horses for the past 10 years, in addition to serving on the board of directors from 2012 to 2018 and on the Scholarship Committee since 2017. As herd veterinarian, he was responsible for treating and managing age-related and other medical conditions, securing grants from industry partners for free or deeply discounted medications and vaccines, and evaluating potential horse donations to ensure a suitable demeanor and manageable health issues before acceptance into the program’s herd.
His nominator, Stephanie Powell, director of HELP, extolled Whitaker’s legacy of service to the PATH International-certified nonprofit. “Many horses donated to our programs come with a wide variety of health challenges, which need to be balanced to be in a herd, serve our special clients, and live in often compact facilities. Without the care, guidance, and support of veterinarians like Dr. Whitaker, our program, and the lives we reach would not be possible.”