Dubai Racehorse Work Experience

Gaining useful work experience with animals, in advance of an application to vet school is not the easiest of things to do, with increased competition, little to no time available to fit it all in, and issues with many potential providers not feeling able to take students on. As such, it is becoming more important than ever to think outside the box and make the most of the opportunities that are presented to you. This is exactly what inspirational student, Yasmine Brown, did when she arranged a placement at the world renowned Dubai Equine Hospital, in the United Arab Emirates. Here, Yasmine shares her experiences with you….

Work Experience in Dubai

Yasmine Brown

Over December and January, I was fortunate enough to spend two weeks as a work experience student at The Dubai Equine Hospital.

Dubai Equine Hospital view of inside buildingFunded by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the 50 horse capacity hospital’s aim is to provide medical and surgical care for the horses within the UAE, with some horses even travelling from as far as Saudi Arabia and Australia to receive treatment.  The majority of horses admitted to the hospital are Thoroughbred racehorses or Arabian endurance or stud horses, taking advantage of the state of the art, multimillion dollar facilities there.

The veterinary team at the hospital is truly international, featuring vets from America, Canada, Italy, Mexico and Hungary; as well as two British interns working for a year (first year graduates from Cambridge and RVC) and a Belgian extern working for a month.

Understandably, the majority of horses are treated for colic, with at least 3 colic cases being admitted every day, often in the middle of the night, meaning incredibly long days and surgeries for both interns and vets.   These colics are usually ileus impactions (a build up of food material in the small intestine) or right dorsal displacements, and patients have their abdomen ultrasounded to check for any twists in their intestines, characterised by immobile black circles, and a rectal examination to check for impactions.  A tube is then passed into the stomach to siphon off excess fluid and prevent the stomach from rupturing and if the horse is going to be treated medically, banamine (a pain killer) is administered or the horse is prepped for surgery.

Shetland pony being ultrasounded at Dubai Equine HospitalOne of the most interesting colic patients treated was a 20 year old Shetland stallion who was admitted for passing pure sand although he was showing no physical signs of pain.  An x-ray of his abdomen showed that his stomach and intestines were full of sand, which is very rare in the UK due to our grassy paddocks. The most likely cause was thought to be because being a typical Shetland, he’d been scavenging for food in his sand paddock.  He was treated by passing a stomach tube with oil, water and psyllium (a horsey laxative) 3 times a day, which usually ended up with everyone involved being covered in oil as he objected strongly to the tube that is cut to size for 16/17hh thoroughbreds!

Horse in hospital at Dubai Equine HospitalI not only learn’t about medical and surgical treatment during my two weeks, I also learn’t a lot about welfare issues that occur in industries such as racing and countries with less stringent laws, with regards to the horses’ wellbeing than in the UK.  The 50 stalls were almost always at full capacity, but often only 30 or so patients were being actively treated, the rest being kept on box rest in the hospital to prevent their trainers from putting them back into training early or from being passed on by owners, who had grown tired of their animals, as gift horses.  Also, a show jumper with chronic lameness in all four hooves was the subject of much debate between all the vets as to whether treatment should be allowed to continue, in concordance with the owner’s wishes, or in the horse should be euthanised.  This was interesting for me as an outsider as every vet had a differing opinion, each one as valid as the next and listening to their debates was not only interesting in terms of veterinary knowledge, but also showed me how medical vets and surgeons collaborate to reach a more suitable treatment for the patient.  It was a tough decision that was not resolved during my time seeing practice, although 50 vials of morphine were delivered from a hospital nearby so an epidural could be administered, to ease the pain in both his back legs.

My time at DEH was an excellent opportunity to supplement my personal statement and build up hours spent on work experience when it comes to applying to university next year, as placements at similar world-renowned hospitals in the UK are limited and often have long waiting lists. I also am still in contact with many of the vets, which provides me with several sources to stay up to date with any veterinary news in Dubai as well as answering any of my remaining questions and offering endless advice!  The experience was invaluable as it also improved my clarity of thought and articulation, as communication with some of the foreign stable managers from the racing stables was challenging at times.  There were also some horrendously long hours but I honestly could not recommend a work experience placement abroad enough as it was ultimately rewarding, and has since inspired me to work even harder to achieve my goals of becoming a vet.

You can follow Yasmine on Twitter @yasb6

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7 Responses to Dubai Racehorse Work Experience

  1. Sophie Hext February 7, 2013 at 19:53 #

    Hi Yasmine,

    Many thanks for this incredible review of your work experience at The Dubai Equine Hospital, it sounds absolutely fascinating especially as horses are one of my passions! With regards to gaining the placement I just wondered how you went about applying for work experience in an overseas country? I am currently in year 11 and having trouble gaining sufficient large animal practice(especially equine) work experience due to the growing demand for placements and have been inspired by your account of your experience to look further a field and possibly gain some in other countries. Did you have previous connections with this hospital or were you able to apply and go? Would love to hear from you about the application process for your placement!

    Thank you!

  2. Yasmin Brown February 7, 2013 at 22:04 #

    Hi Sophie,

    I did previously have connections to acquire my placement in Dubai. But in other placements abroad I did not; many of these hospitals often receive many applications from students, just as in the UK so apply, apply, apply is all the advice I can give you! If you have a strong application and come across as reliable and mature in your application you will hopefully get some replies 🙂


  3. domestic animals September 24, 2013 at 18:30 #

    Hi! I could have sworn I’ve been to this site before but after browsing through many
    of the posts I realized it’s new to me. Anyways, I’m definitely
    happy I discovered it and I’ll be bookmarking it and checking back regularly!

  4. Babak December 13, 2013 at 16:31 #

    Hi Yasmine! I would like to apply for the internship program at the Dubai Equine Hospital. I addition to required documents, what do you recommend to increase my chance? I will be so grateful for any help you can provide.

  5. Bushra Nazeer August 2, 2015 at 17:28 #

    I am from Pakistan. I have completed DVM and M. Phil in Veterinary Parasitology from UVAS, Lahore. I want to apply for the internship program at Dubai equine hospital. What should i do? Waiting for your reply

    • NerdyVet August 13, 2015 at 05:40 #

      Hi Bushra. You need to contact them directly or follow any instructions on their website relating to applications to their internship programme. Good luck.

  6. Shawn-Han December 8, 2015 at 05:06 #

    Hello Yasmine:

    I am studying in Britain and I will attend university here for degree in one year.
    I graduated from Wuhan business university and got a diploma of economy of horse racing. In addition, I took a three-month internship in Nine dragon horse club in Melbourne and got a certificate III in practice horse industry. Now , I wish I can acquire a full-time job about equine in Dubai for half year at least. I can do work about stable or be a receptionist due to I can speak English and Chinese and have relevant experience in overseas. Besides, I do want have a chance to study something to increase myself in this field.

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