Jamaica is home to the largest thoroughbred racing industry in the English-speaking Caribbean and much is invested in securing our horseflesh.
Veterinarians are, by law, through The Veterinary Act and Jamaica Racing Commission Act, the trained professionals entrusted with the responsibilities of providing health services to horses.
The health needs of the estimated 3,000 horses in Jamaica are serviced by a small but growing cadre of equine veterinarians who provide expertise on:
- Horse identification,
- Breeding and athletic soundness,
- General medical and emergency management/prophylaxis,
- Doping control
- Welfare monitoring.
- International movement of horses
- Industry training (trainers, jockeys)
Before a foal is even thought of vets are involved, assessing mare fertility, and giving guidance on when live cover by stallions should be performed.
Before a horse sets foot on the track, it has passed through several veterinary interventions including: vaccinations, micro-chipping, joint therapy, dental adjustments, and tracheal endoscopy.
Off-track horses, while less intensely managed than the athletes at a racetrack, do not escape the vets’ needle even as the focus may shift to management of breeding and geriatric conditions.
Horse doctors, as equine veterinarians are often called, are highly trained professionals whose licensure requires not only strong academic performance, but also continued professional development.
As the primary health and welfare guardians of the equine population, veterinarians are valued stakeholders in the development of the equine industry and provide incomparable expertise.
Jamaica joins the world in celebrating World Veterinary Day (April 24) under the theme ‘Veterinarian response in COVID 19,’ fully appreciative that as our veterinarians continue to deliver through the pandemic, our horseflesh is the better for it and hence the Sport of Kings remains the only (athletic) show in town.