Horse Owner Empathy and Our Equine Veterinarians

Issues of mental health, well-being, and suicide among vets are important ones that veterinary organizations worldwide have made a priority.

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equine veterinarians
Indeed, veterinary medicine is a demanding profession, and issues of mental health and well-being among vets are important ones that organizations worldwide have made a priority. | Photo: Amy K. Dragoo

In middle school I interviewed my family’s equine veterinarian for a career-day assignment. I remember it like it was yesterday, propping my clipboard (covered with horse stickers, of course) against the fence beside the barn and scrawling in seventh-grade cursive everything she said about her life as a veterinarian.

She talked about not only how strenuous vet school was but also how exciting. She recounted the dangers of the job—not hard for me to imagine, as she’d once arrived at our farm with a missing front tooth. She described the ample time on the road as well as the privilege of working with horses and their owners daily.

Because of her and many others who lectured at 4-H meetings and Pony Club camps, I had an early admiration for equine practitioners. And I wanted to be one—that’s why I chose that school paper topic in the first place. My vet’s answers to my questions and, later, a friend’s comments about the more emotionally taxing aspects of vet school gave me a lot to think about. Ultimately, I didn’t pursue the pre-vet path because I desired a more predictable day-to-day work schedule

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Written by:

Stephanie L. Church, Editorial Director, grew up riding and caring for her family’s horses in Central Virginia and received a B.A. in journalism and equestrian studies from Averett University. She joined The Horse in 1999 and has led the editorial team since 2010. A 4-H and Pony Club graduate, she enjoys dressage, eventing, and trail riding with her former graded-stakes-winning Thoroughbred gelding, It Happened Again (“Happy”). Stephanie and Happy are based in Lexington, Kentucky.

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