An Equine Vet’s Goals for 2016


New year, new you—that worn out cliché we hear every January is enough to drive people bonkers. However, I am loath to admit this saying has at least a smidgen of truth to it, at least for me. I’m a list-maker and Type A personality—how could I resist a challenge at the start of a new year to be better at something? Even equine veterinary practice isn’t safe from my goals; it never fails—new year, new horsey resolutions. Some of these goals are doable, some are totally unrealistic. But a doc can try, right?

Horse Teeth

Goal #1: (Unrealistic) Perfect molar extraction technique. Most horse owners know that their equine’s chompers continually grow over the life of the horse and require periodic dental exams to ensure proper wear. Sometimes, a molar in the back of a horse’s mouth is fractured or abscessed and needs to come out. This is a major event requiring serious tools, expert precision, and sometimes Hulk-like strength. I’ve never been willing to do a molar extraction on my own, so why not make 2016 my year?

Goal #1a: (Attainable) A senior horse patient of mine loses weight every winter because of poor dentition. In 2016 I will get ahead of the game and help make sure, with proper dental care in the spring and fall and client education, that this golden oldie maintains his weight during the winter months.

Woman with Horse

Goal #2: (Unrealistic) I will remember the name of every horse owner, her horse, and the names of her daughters at the large barns I visit. Who doesn’t love it when a vet remembers your name after only seeing you 12 months ago for vaccines?

Goal #2a: (Attainable) I will know all the names of the horses I see at the large barns (consider it challenge enough to be able to tell all the bay Thoroughbreds apart!).

Library by Boon Low on flickr. CC BY-ND 2.0

Goal #3: (Unrealistic) Learn to use lasers. Who doesn’t love lasers? Tendonitis, arthritis, wound healing—lasers are the wave of the future and lots of high-end equine practices use them. I need to get on the bandwagon and ride into the 21st century.

Goal #3a: (Attainable) Laser-buying is not in the near future for me. But keeping up on other novel technologies for lameness issues is. I will renew subscriptions to my equine veterinary journals and be sure to attend this year’s veterinary continuing education meetings.

Blue Bottle Coffee by Neil Conway on CC BY 2.0

Goal #4: (Unrealistic) No more Starbucks, McDonald’s, or gas station snacks for me when on call!

Goal #4a: (Attainable) Let’s get real. How about limiting myself to one stop a week? Caffeine and chocolate are, after all, a staple in every horse vet’s life.

ANNA O’BRIEN, DVM, is a large-animal
ambulatory veterinarian in central Maryland. Her practice tackles
anything equine in nature, from Miniature Horses to zebras at the local
zoo, with a few cows, goats, sheep, pigs, llamas, and alpacas thrown in
for good measure. Follow her on Twitter: @annaobriendvm.



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