The American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) hosts an online forum for practitioners to exchange ideas and discuss cases. Of the 1,520 members on this Listserv, 33% (516) responded to a 2014 survey inquiring about factors that affect the lives of equine practitioners and their satisfaction with practice. By identifying specific challenges, the AAEP hopes to implement strategies to address them.

Amy Grice, VMD, MBA, owner of Veterinary Business Consulting, based in Montana, presented the survey results at the 2015 AAEP Convention, held Dec. 5-9 in Las Vegas. She highlighted some of what equine practitioners reported:

  • Continued slow recovery from the 2008 recession.
  • Predominantly female equine veterinarians and associated salary disparities between men and women.
  • Horse owner demographic of mostly women at least 50 years old with older horses who are not likely to replace their horses.
  • A marked decline of more than 50% of the horse population in the last decade. “Increasing expenses of owning a horse and loss of pastureland into developed housing communities has impacted horse ownership, as well,” said Grice. “In addition, Millennials enjoy recreation that is digital or media-driven rather than outdoor activities like horseback riding.” Consequently horse ownership is not as prevalent with the younger generations.
  • An oversupply of veterinarians; 12% overabundance of equine vets is expected to continue through 2025.
  • Student debt overload–on average, it was $135,000 in 2014.
  • A negative $500,000 return on educational investment with a break-even point unreached until at least 65 years of age.

One bit of good news was that despite women earning proportionately less salary than men in the profession, they are earning proportionately more than women with a bachelor’s degree.

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