Jul 20, 2013
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Prevet here, but I figured you guys would have better insight.
I'm a relatively small person, 5' 3" 115 lbs, but I love horses. I don't own one, but I ride with my friend and I volunteer at a local farm (we feed and groom and give medicine, they're old retired horses). I've been told a few times that of never be successful working with large animals like horses because of my size. I haven't had any trouble with grooming, even doing hooves of massive Belgians. What do you guys think?
 
Jan 18, 2006
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You can absolutely be a good large animal vet. But I'm not gonna lie, it will be harder. I know, I know, everyone has that story about this teeny tiny girl they know who could wrestle down bulls, but overall your size will be a slight disadvantage. However, that is what sedation drugs and techs are for ;) Size won't hold you back in a career-ending way, especially not with horses. It might be more of a concern if you wanted to do hardcore beef cattle work or something along those lines, but still viable.
 

CalliopeDVM

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With horses you will likely not find it a problem, but with farm animal work you will likely get a fair amount of push-back from the clients (i.e. farmers and ranchers) -- a lot of women find that a problem, regardless of their size, and it's worse for small women. That's changing with time, but be prepared for resistance from clients; you'll need a thick skin and confidence for any farm animal / large animal work.
 

that redhead

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Horses are easier to work with in general because they're usually far more tolerant of handling compared to most production animals. You will definitely have to be confident and strong to deal with large animals and/or those unaccostomed to handling.

The biggest issue for me thus far has been doing rectal exams on horses and cattle. I literally cannot get my hand in as far as taller people and I have a harder time palpating stuff because of it. I imagine short arms would be a problem in some surgical scenarios, too.
 
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polevaultgirl
Jul 20, 2013
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Thanks for the replies :) and yeah, my main interest would be working with horses, rather than cows or food animals. I've been doing pretty well, helping train thoroughbreds at the farm and cleaning hooves of massive draft horses, so I think I might be able to do it. Thanks for the encouragement :)
 
Jan 18, 2006
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Horses are easier to work with in general because they're usually far more tolerant of handling compared to most production animals. You will definitely have to be confident and strong to deal with large animals and/or those unaccostomed to handling.

The biggest issue for me thus far has been doing rectal exams on horses and cattle. I literally cannot get my hand in as far as taller people and I have a harder time palpating stuff because of it. I imagine short arms would be a problem in some surgical scenarios, too.
LDA sx with short arms sucks. Trust me, I know :laugh:
 

shortnsweet

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LDA sx with short arms sucks. Trust me, I know :laugh:
And cesars when the damn calf is in the right horn....

But I am 5 ft and have every intention of working with horses in 6 months. No one has really given me trouble through vet school about it (besides the farm people....but they were all just joking around). They do tell me, however, no one will believe I am a vet because I look so young/am so short. I'll just have to prove em wrong.
 
Aug 1, 2009
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If you have really short arms, you may have some problems with rectal palpation for pregnancy detection/staging in large cows. I have a very petite classmate who just cannot palpate enough of the tract beyond the bifurcation to stage pregnancy reliably. I feel sorry for her because she has zero interest in large animal med.
 
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I have a very petite classmate who just cannot palpate enough of the tract beyond the bifurcation to stage pregnancy reliably. I feel sorry for her because she has zero interest in large animal med.
Did you mean she has zero interest in small animal med? Because if she has zero interest in large animal med, that would work out fine. :)
 

shortnsweet

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If you have really short arms, you may have some problems with rectal palpation for pregnancy detection/staging in large cows. I have a very petite classmate who just cannot palpate enough of the tract beyond the bifurcation to stage pregnancy reliably. I feel sorry for her because she has zero interest in large animal med.
I thought it would be a problem too....but it's really not that hard. Some of the super deep cows were tough, but even the tall guys had trouble with those. Cows are way easier than horses.