Communication is key
In addition to helping students develop practical equine veterinary skills, Bass agrees that communication is important. "Although
many students are good at what they do, they're just not able to communicate with different types of clients," Bass says.
At Pioneer, about 50 percent of clients are dressage-hunter-jumper, 35 to 50-year-old female clients. The other half are Western
performance reiners, team-ropers, cutters — the majority of whom are male.
Interns learn communication skills, how to talk to different types of people from these two diverse equine disciplines. "Our
externs and interns must be able to look at an individual horse for a cowboy, and turn right around and look at a six-figure
dressage horse in the same day. That's real-world experience and they just don't get that in veterinary school."
Many of today's mentors see mentorship as an opportunity to give back what they received. Today's experienced veterinarians
had a similar experience when they were up-and-coming. "There were people we looked up to, that gave us help along the way,"
Bass says. "I'm passing the torch, and I'm happy to do it. I'm glad that I can lead so many people who are interested in
equine practice and doing it with the same passion that I have."
"We take great pride in mentoring young practitioners," Bass says. "It's an important part of our practice to continue to
develop these students as practitioners of the future." And that's the emphasis of many established equine practitioners,
and they seem to revel in it as do their prodigies in their mentors.
Ed Kane, PhD, is a researcher and consultant in animal nutrition. He is an author and editor on nutrition, physiology and veterinary medicine
with a background in horses, pets and livestock. He is based in Seattle.