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The Equine Veterinarians, circa 2005
Astonishing strides in the advancement of veterinary medicine have occurred over the past century and a half in the United States. Formal education began with private schools, the first being the Veterinary College of Philadelphia in 1852. When the Federal Government approved the Morrill Land Grant Act of 1862, many of the private schools could not financially compete with the new land grant universities and were forced to close. Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa, was the first Land Grant University to open a veterinary program in 1879. Formalization of the fledgling profession occurred in 1863 with the establishment of the United States Veterinary Medical Association, in 1898 to be renamed the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) as it is now known. To further strengthen and standardize the educational process, the AVMA developed a Council on Education which also acts as an accrediting body for veterinary schools. The Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC) coordinates the national and international affairs of all veterinary medical colleges in the United States and Canada. Today there are twenty-seven U. S. Colleges of Veterinary Medicine.
The Spanish Conquistadors who invaded North America were the first to bring horses to the New World. Eventually, the British brought horses to the colonies. The importance of the horse in turning the wheels of progress in this country can not be denied. From its contributions to heavy draft work, road transport, and military functions, equestrian sports have become the importance of today’s horse.
The increasing demands for better veterinary care for the horse and more intense research started in the 1950’s have now yielded results creating an exciting period of progress in understanding this animal and its diseases. With sophisticated imaging systems, safer anesthetics, and padded hydraulic operating tables, the latest advances in surgical techniques can be used to treat injuries. Endoscopic and arthroscopic instruments allow diagnoses and repair of internal organs and joints. Swimming tanks promote recovery from limb injuries. Improved pharmaceuticals offer a variety of treatment options for multiple diseases.
Today, many veterinarians limit their practices to the diagnoses and treatment of equine diseases and injuries. The American Association of Equine Practitioners, founded in 1954, has greatly advanced the knowledge and understanding of this most treasured animal.
Elinor McGrath and Florence Kimball were the first women to graduate from veterinary schools in 1910. Now, approximately fifty percent of all veterinary graduates are women. Anne Crawford has beautifully depicted male and female veterinarians performing ultrasound diagnostic imaging on a thoroughbred in this rendering of contemporary equine medicine.