An equine veterinarian is a veterinarian who provides medical care for horses. An ambulatory equine veterinarian provides this care at the farms and barns where their patients reside. These veterinarians oversee the preventative care of horses as well as caring for their patients when they are sick or injured. Their patients can be range from highly trained athletes to horses used for recreation.
Ambulatory equine veterinarians work from their vehicle. They carry all of the equipment, medical supplies, and therapies they will need to examine, diagnose and treat their patients on site. Typical procedures for an equine veterinarian include conducting physical exams, drawing blood, giving routine vaccinations, treating for parasites, evaluating lameness, treating colic (stomach problems), and taking radiographs (xrays).
As Dr. Jessica Thornton describes it, the desire to become a veterinarian started when she was 6 years old. “We took our own pets to the small animal vet and I just thought she was the coolest lady ever …and that kind of shaped my desire to become a vet.” While she has had a tremendous love of animals all her life, it was her experience in college helped her to focus. “When I got to college and was actually able to start working with horses, that is when I decided that those were the animals I wanted to help the most.”
“We took our own pets to the small animal vet and I just thought she was the coolest lady ever …and that kind of shaped my desire to become a vet.”
Today, she continues to help horses as an equine ambulatory veterinarian at Hagyard Equine Medical Institute. “A typical day for me usually consists of driving about a hundred miles, more or less, visiting my patients at different farms.” She adds “My favorite thing about being an ambulatory vet is the diversity every day. You never know what you’re going to get or necessarily who you are going to see. Some days I see the same patients on a daily basis. Other days you might have an emergency and you don’t know who you are going to see or what client you are going to visit.”
As an ambulatory equine veterinarian, Dr. Thornton also becomes very familiar with the Lexington, Kentucky community. “Everyday I get to go and basically see my friends because I have had some of my clients for four or five years now. So we have formed a good relationship and I get to check on their patients everyday or whenever they have a problem.” She adds. “It also is nice to see the foals go from being one week old to a year old and track their progress as they go along.”
For future veterinarians her advice is “If you want to become a veterinarian you always have to study hard but practical experience is really important and you should just go try to get experience and spend time with horses if you think you want to be and equine veterinarian.” And the payoff is big. Dr. Thornton says “The thing I love most about what I do is that every day is a different day and every day I get to work with these amazing animals.”
In this video, you get to ride along with Dr. Thornton as she travels to different farms in the Lexington, Kentucky area in order to provide care to her equine patients. You’ll see the beautiful countryside where she works and then go behind the scenes and watch her as she performs wellness exams, draws blood and auscultates the heart. This film will also show you Dr. Thornton care for sick and injured patients. You’ll watch as she evaluates lameness, performs an ultrasound, and treats colic in a horse. You’ll also get a peek at the other veterinarians at the Hagyard Equine Medical Institute and see all that they do to keep horses healthy.
This video is low on the gross meter. It has a couple of things that could gross you out if you are very sensitive. You will see the veterinarian with a syringe and taking blood from a patient and watch her as she puts the blood in a collection tube. You will also see close ups of her as she performs acupuncture by placing needles at certain therapeutic locations on her patients.