How to Become a Horse Racing Veterinarian

by Clayton Browne
Horse racing veterinarians help to take care of horses on and off the racetrack.

Horse racing veterinarians help to take care of horses on and off the racetrack.

Veterinarians provide medical care for all kinds of animals. While a few vets have research careers, most vets specialize in treating pets or food animals. Equine vets specialize in treating horses. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, around 6 percent of private practice vets treat horses. Equine vets typically have a private practice treating working farm and ranch horses. Or, they might be employed in the horse racing industry. Horse racing is big business, having grown from $4.5 billion wagered in 1973 to over $14 billion wagered in 2009. Given that the BLS projects a robust 36 percent job growth for vets overall, equine vets looking for a career in horse racing should have good prospects.

Attend college and earn a bachelor's degree in biology, chemistry, zoology, wildlife biology or animal science. Although some veterinary schools will admit students with just three years of post-secondary education, it is a good idea to spend the extra year in school to get your degree. Maintain a high GPA, as admission to vet school is highly competitive.

Complete a four-year veterinary school program. Vet school programs typically include courses in animal anatomy and physiology, biochemistry, pharmacology, and animal disease prevention, diagnosis and treatment. Use your electives to take all the large animal and equine medicine courses offered at your vet school.

Apply for a one-year equine veterinary internship after you graduate from vet school. A horse racing industry-related position is obviously ideal, but any internship working with horses will give you the basic experience you need.

Fill out the necessary forms for a license to practice veterinary medicine in your state. A vet license typically requires proof of graduation from an accredited veterinary school and passing the North American Veterinary Licensing Exam.

Apply for entry-level vet positions at horse racetracks or with large horse farms in your area. Depending on where you live, you might have to relocate to find an ideal job.


  • Apply for externships or work-study programs after your third year of vet school. Getting some hands-on professional experience, even if it is just for a few months in the summer, is always a good idea, and is positively regarded by employers. Try to find a position with a nearby horse breeder or at a racetrack.

About the Author

Clayton Browne has been writing professionally since 1994. He has written and edited everything from science fiction to semiconductor patents to dissertations in linguistics, having worked for Holt, Rinehart & Winston, Steck-Vaughn and The Psychological Corp. Browne has a Master of Science in linguistic anthropology from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

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