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NJQH Youth Association

The Journey To Becoming a Quarter Horse Veterinarian

By Luci Colasante

February/March 2024


A Quarter Horse veterinarian is a vet who specializes in the health and care of the American Quarter Horse, known for its sprinting abilities, versatility, and showing. These professionals are not just experts in general equine health but also possess a deep understanding of the unique aspects of Quarter Horse anatomy, common health issues, and specific care requirements.


It takes a lot of training, time, and dedication to become an equine vet. Here is the process that most equine vets go through:


1. Veterinary School with Equine Focus

Along with the standard veterinary curriculum, opt for electives and clinical classes that focus on equine medicine, surgery, and specifically, Quarter Horse care.


2. Licensure and Certification

Post-graduation, pass the NAVLE and consider obtaining certification from the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners (ABVP) in Equine Practice, which underscores a focus on horses, including Quarter Horses.


3. Internship and Residency

Choose programs with a strong emphasis on Quarter Horse health issues, like muscle disorders and limb injuries, common in sprinting and heavy work breeds.


Becoming an equine vet also comes with cool features tools due to horses size, weight, and differences. One of those many tools is a crane to lift horses up and keep them steady while surgery is being done. Below are some facts about the use of the special crane:


Preparation: Prior to surgery, the Quarter Horse is anesthetized in a padded induction room to ensure safety.

Lifting Mechanism: A crane-like device, known as a hoist, is used to gently lift the horse. The hoist is carefully attached to a specially designed harness or lifting sling.


Positioning on the Table: The horse is then slowly and carefully moved onto the surgery table. The table is often equipped with adjustable sections to fit the horse's size and the type of surgery.

Safety and Monitoring: Throughout the process, the horse's vital signs are closely monitored, and padding is used to prevent pressure sores or more injuries.


Top 3 most common Quarter Horse illnesses 


Navicular disease - in horses, is like having a really sore heel that makes it hard for them to walk or run comfortably. It's a foot problem in the back part of their hoof.


Laminitis - in horses is like when their feet get really sore and swollen, making it hard and painful for them to walk. It's like having a bad foot ache.


Polysaccharide Storage Myopathy -when their muscles get too much sugar and it makes them feel sore and stiff.

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Fun Facts


  • They use diagnostic tools like MRI and digital radiography to assess musculoskeletal issues, which are common in athletic breeds like Quarter Horses.

  • Given the Quarter Horse's prevalence in racing, rodeo, and showing, these veterinarians often specialize in equine sports medicine, focusing on optimizing performance and preventing injuries.

  • They are skilled in performing complex surgeries, often utilizing minimally invasive techniques for quicker recovery, which is crucial for competition horses.

  • Quarter Horse vets provide tailored nutritional advice to enhance performance and maintain optimal health, understanding the high-energy demands of these active horses.

  • They are trained to handle emergencies, providing critical care for conditions like colic, fractures, and acute lameness, which require prompt and expert attention.

Congratulations to the 2024 NJQHYA Board!


President Alyssa Papiez

Vice President Emily Kuchta

Treasurer Grace Ricker

Secretary Natalie DeGroot

Reporter Luci Colasante


Michelle Kuchta, NJQHYA Advisor

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