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The research and studies showed that in hindsight, the COVID-19 pandemic was actually a financial boon to most equine veterinarians. However, living through the pandemic was not always easy or pleasant for equine veterinarians, their practices or their clients.
“At first when it slowed down, it was like PTSD,” said Erin Denney-Jones, DVM, the owner of Florida Equine Veterinary Services in Clermont, Florida. “For about 1 1/2 months, I thought we were in a recession. Then we coasted through.” Denney-Jones and her assistant, Kim, are “like family” because they have been together 16 years. “We trusted each other to do ‘protecting’ so we could work. She said because they love to interact with customers, the “non-show” time really let them learn a lot about their customers.
Monty McInturff, DVM, the owner and president of Tennessee Equine Hospital, which has four locations in the state, said, “I’m always an optimist. During the 2008-2009 economic recession, I didn’t want to participate! [The pandemic] was an opportunity for veterinary medicine, and it grew to the point that we almost had more [business] than we could handle.”
However, McInturff noted that his practice was very different because they “sequestered” themselves in small practice groups. “The introverts loved the focus on the animals and not customers, and others really missed the customers,” he said. “I like people, so I struggled not being around people.”
McInturff said the level of care rose for client horses. “Horse owners recognized how important the horses were to the family,” he said. His practice did a lot more preventive work, such as blood work, X rays and fecals.
Denney-Jones agreed, saying client energies “went to prevention.”
Both veterinarians noted the increase in price for purchasing horses, whether they were trail horses or show horses. They said people moving to the country can afford horses and donkeys, and that donkeys are very popular to those moving to the country.
“During the pandemic, people focused on the lifestyle they had chosen,” said McInturff. “You can be a horse person and not ride. You love the lifestyle of looking over the fence at horses.”
Another thing that both experiences veterinarians agreed on was that they loved the life of being an equine veterinarian. “If I could be 25 again I’d do it all again,” said McInturff.
“Best. Job. Ever,” agreed Denney-Jones.
About Our Guests
Dr. Erin Denney-Jones is the owner of Florida Equine Veterinary Services in Clermont, Florida. She is a graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia Veterinary Medical School and completed an Equine Medicine and Surgical Internship at Mississippi State University. Denney-Jones achieved status as a FEI veterinarian in 1995. She is active in many equine veterinary organizations, including as a member of the Charter Board of the Florida Association of Equine Practitioners and as Treasurer of the FAEP in 2006-2008. She has a passion for continuing education and a desire to enhance horse owners’ understanding of equine disease and lameness.
Dr. Monty McInturff is the owner and president of Tennessee Equine Hospital, which has four locations in the state. A 1989 graduate of Auburn University, McInturff started as an ambulatory practitioner and has grown his practice to a staff of 12 full-time veterinarians. He served on the AAEP Board from 2012-2015, and his practice interests include sports medicine, lameness and the general health/wellness of the horse.
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