By Bianca Schwarz, DVM, DrMedVet, Dipl. ECEIM, WEVA board member

The Vets With Horsepower aren’t your average equine veterinarians. These equine practitioners and researchers go on annual motorcycle tours to deliver high-level continuing professional development to other veterinarians and raise money for nominated charities.

The charity project got rolling when Prof. Derek Knottenbelt, OBE, BVM&S, DVM, Dipl. ECEIM, MRCVS, won a Harley Davidson motorcycle in a raffle. He and other motorcycling veterinarians started the first tour in 2010, when they rode 1,500 miles in one week, visiting all the vet schools in the United Kingdom and raising money for SPANA (the Society for the Protection of Animals Abroad) and the British Equine Veterinary Association Trust. In the following years, Vets With Horsepower have continued touring, including to events in North Africa, South Africa, and Scandinavia, among other locations. So far, the Horsepower tours—now a registered charity—have raised more than £500,000 (US$648,950) for equine and children’s charities and have worked to improve human and equine quality of life.

The 2017 Eastern European Tour took place in June and July and included Belgium, the Netherlands, Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Italy, Austria, Switzerland, and Germany. The trip covered 3,200 miles in two weeks with more than 80 hours of lectures for veterinarians at universities and private equine hospitals along the way. The 12 motorcycling equine vets and the local event organizers raised money for the Gambia Horse and Donkey Trust, the St. Ethelbert’s Child Refuge Centre, and HEROS, a UK-based charity that retrains and rehomes ex-racehorses to help them secure second careers.

The Gambia Horse and Donkey Trust hopes to use the funds raised for a properly equipped horse box to transport sick and injured horses and donkeys, which currently have to walk to the clinic or be loaded onto unsafe pickup trucks for transport.