Working as an Equine Vet Tech
Veterinary technicians play a major role in providing high quality care to America’s pets, by assisting veterinarians and pet owners in ensuring that the pet is properly cared for both at home and in the veterinary clinic.
Because of the increasing number of veterinary practices and the growing complexity of pet care in America, many vet techs specialize in one or more areas in order to provide better care for their animal patients. Equine vet techs are an example of a common specialty, especially in rural areas or farmland.
What Qualifications Does an Equine Vet Tech Possess?
All equine vet techs must first become qualified as a veterinary technician.
Depending on their state, this may require obtaining a state license or being certified by a professional veterinary technician organization. In most cases, certification involves completing an accredited veterinary technician program, passing the Veterinary Technical National Examination (VTNE), and in some cases, passing a state jurisprudence examination. Completing this process demonstrates that the vet tech is fully qualified in his or her field.
States that do not Require Licensure
Some states do not require licensure or certification for their veterinary technicians. In those states, some vet techs are trained by their employer while they are working in the veterinary clinic. However, many vet techs obtain certification in these states, even if the process is voluntary.
Not only does this improve their employment prospects in the state, but it also makes it easier for the vet tech to obtain a license if he or she should move to a state that does require that all practicing vet techs have a current license.
Equine Vet Techs
Equine vet techs specialize in the treatment of horses, mules and donkeys, ranging from riding animals to farm animals.
Originally, many veterinary practices specialized in the care of farm and work equines, but modern veterinary clinics focus more on horses that are used for recreational purposes.
In addition, many veterinarians and vet techs work with wildlife management programs that handle wild horses, especially in the western states.
An equine vet tech has a great deal of experience in working with equines, and usually carries out the following duties:
- Conducting the initial physical examination to enable the vet to better evaluate the animal’s condition.
- Under the direction of the vet, administering drugs to the animal.
- Equine vet techs must be able to restrain and prepare large animals for the vet in a way that is safe for the animal and the attending veterinary care workers alike.
- During surgical procedures, the vet tech will assist the veterinarian before, during and after the surgery.
- For those equines that are currently residing at the clinic, the vet tech will regularly monitor their condition and diet, in order to ensure that they are in the best possible condition. In addition, if there is a change in an equine’s physical condition, the vet tech will report the change to the supervising veterinarian.
- Equine vet techs often exercise the horses under their care by riding them. They may also ride them in order to ensure that the equine is properly socialized.
Becoming an Equine Vet Tech
In many cases, an equine vet tech is an individual who is a qualified vet tech who works at a practice that focuses on the treatment of equines. These individuals have no official certification as an equine vet tech, but have worked closely with the veterinarian and other experienced animal care providers.
In many cases, they will also take academic courses that focus on the treatment of equines, either independently or as part of their continuing education units.
The Equine Vet Tech Specialty
However, some vet techs desire to become a professionally certified equine vet tech. The National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA) has recognized the American Association of Equine Veterinary Technicians and Assistants (AAEVT) as a professional body that can provide certification for those vet techs who desire to demonstrate a high level of professional skill in the field of equine veterinary care. The Academy has established the following requirements for any vet tech seeking certification:
- The vet tech must be currently licensed or certified in the state where he or she is practicing.
- He or she must currently be a member of the AAEVT.
- He or she must complete all the AAEVT required courses.
- The vet tech must have their supervising doctor of veterinary medicine (DVM) confirm that they have obtained the needed proficiency in this field.
- The AAEVT will evaluate and confirm that the candidate possesses the necessary horsemanship skills to obtain AAEVT certification.
While obtaining an AAEVT certification does not replace the vet techs state or professional certification, it does signify that the vet tech is currently a qualified specialist in the field of equine care.
Because of this, AAEVT certified vet techs often enjoy excellent employment and advancement options in the field of equine veterinary care.
Limitations to an Equine Vet Tech’s Duties
All states have certain limitations on what types of care a vet tech can provide. Vet techs who fail to abide by these limitations may find their license or certification revoked by the state. Because of this, vet techs should carefully evaluate their state’s laws regarding what types of care they can provide.
The Typical Day for Equine Vet Techs
Because the nature of an equine vet tech’s duties can vary depending on his or her place of employment, not all equine vet techs will experience the same type of workday.
However, most vet techs will usually perform most of the following duties. Depending on the size of the practice, the vet tech may be working alone or with a group of veterinary professionals.
The Start of the Day
When the vet tech arrives, he or she will first speak with the previous shift or read any reports that have been left regarding the animals that are currently under the care of the veterinary clinic. This information will usually also include any scheduled medical procedures or animal examinations. The vet tech will ensure that he or she is familiar with any changes to the schedule and that there are no scheduling conflicts.
After this, the vet tech will carry out the shift’s initial duties, which usually involve ensuring that all animals have been properly fed and exercised. An equine vet tech may also ride one or more horses as part of the animal’s exercise plan.
If any surgical procedures are scheduled, the vet tech will assist the surgical team in preparing the animal for the procedure, carrying out the procedure and cleaning the surgical space after the procedure is concluded. In many cases, the vet tech will have been monitoring the animal’s diet before the surgical procedure in order to ensure that it is ready for surgery. After the procedure, the vet tech will continue to monitor the animal and inform the veterinarian of any changes.
If a seriously injured or ill animal is brought in, the vet tech will immediately assist the veterinarian in providing emergency care to stabilize the equine. This will take priority over previously scheduled surgical procedures and examinations. In these cases, the vet tech must be able to function quickly and effectively during a stressful and time-critical procedure. In addition, the vet tech may have to obtain important information from the equine’s distraught owners.
The End of the Day
At the end of the vet tech’s day, he or she will inform the next shift of any important events that occurred during the day, while making a complete record for the veterinarian. Because many larger practices may have several equine vet techs, it is vital to ensure that all important information is written down and available to the vet tech and veterinarian alike.
On Site Treatment
Finally, some equine vet techs provide treatment to horses while they are at their owner’s home or farm. These vet techs usually work with a traveling veterinarian, or visit the owner by themselves in order to provide routine services such as examining the horse’s hooves for sign of damage or infection. This is especially common in rural areas, where many animals reside far away from the veterinary clinic.
Ultimately, becoming an equine vet tech can be an excellent choice for individuals who enjoy caring for America’s beloved equines. Equine vet techs can enjoy a great deal of respect from their fellow professionals and the public alike as they ensure that the equines under their care enjoy long and healthy lives.