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Equine vet’s part-time practice grows

Stephanie Wilkinson and her horse Zayne (Photograph supplied)

Equine vet Stephanie Wilkinson always wanted to set up a practice at home in Bermuda, but didn’t think there would be enough customers.

“Although we have a relatively healthy population of horses considering the size of the island, it’s not quite enough to fulfil a full-time equine veterinarian,” the 29-year-old said. “It would mean you would have to practise on small animals and production animals to sustain a lifestyle.”

To compromise she set up a part-time practice, Island Equine Veterinary Services Ltd. She now lives and works full-time for the Piedmont Equine Practice in The Plains, Virgina, then sees clients in Bermuda every six weeks.

“I fly home for the weekend,” she said.

She has seen 40 clients since she set up her business in December 2017.

“I am definitely very proud of being able to begin and grow my Bermuda business in a relatively short timespan,” she said. “I am looking at things like muscular skeletal issues that can cause a horse to be lame.”

She doesn’t have a physical clinic, but travels by car to clients, often local farms.

“Most of the larger farms have a variety of clients that board their horses there,” she said. “At one farm I can be tending to six different clients in one day.”

In Virginia, she is on call three nights a week and two weekends a month, so using her time off to fly back to Bermuda is no small feat.

“It can be exhausting, and overwhelming at times, but it is also very rewarding,” she said. “I am at the beginning of my career when you need to put in that hard work to be able to make it. You can take a step back later on down the road.

“Moving back to Bermuda is definitely not off the table, but for the short term this has been working really well for clients, my practice and myself and the practice in Virginia.”

She’s honing her skills with a variety of different cases in the US, then transferring those skills to Bermuda, when she can travel.

“This situation where I can travel home to attend to business in Bermuda every six weeks has worked out perfectly,” she said.

And to top it off, she gets to see her family and friends in Bermuda regularly.

“It does make for a busy weekend,” she said.

She grew up on the horse scene in Bermuda, and a lot of her clients are people who used to train her in riding.

“It is nice to have that working relationship with them,” she said. “They were the catalyst for the business starting. They were reaching out to me and asking if I would be coming home and whether I would be able to tend to their horses.”

Ms Wilkinson has always loved horses and science, and in her late teens decided to merge those interests into a career as an equine veterinarian.

In September 2012, she won the $20,000 Oil Group of Companies Scholarship.

She has an honours degree in biomedical science from the University of Guelph, and a doctorate of veterinary medicine from the Ontario Veterinary College. During her studies, she did a yearlong internship with Piedmont, to learn more about working with horses.

“I fell in love with them and the area,” she said.

She found Canada a bit too cold, so as soon as she graduated she moved to Virginia to work for Piedmont.

In her spare time, she loves spending time with her own horses, Esquire, who is retired, and Zayne, a young horse. This summer, she hopes to take part in a number of horse shows with Zayne.

For more information e-mail Ms Wilkinson at srwilkinson08@gmail.com