Historically horse owners have been used to veterinary surgeons taking care of all manner of veterinary problems for their horse, from routine dentistry to care of the colic patient. As the veterinary profession has become more stratified, the equine veterinary practitioner who is responsible for routine health care, injuries and illnesses has become akin to the general practitioner (GP) in human medicine.
In line with what you would expect from your doctor therefore, more serious problems require specialist expertise, in the form of veterinary “specialists” who are the consultants of the veterinary profession.
The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) maintains a list of “specialists” in each discipline, whom they have verified to have the sufficient level of expertise and experience to use the title. Specialists will have undergone rigourous training, usually a surgical residency in a large training hospital over a three or four year period, following by passing the qualifying examination. More information can be found on the RCVS website.
Owners should be aware they have the right to referral to any clinician of their choosing, and as such can ensure that should their horses need surgery, it is performed by a qualified specialist with appropriate expertise and experience.