October 26th, 2022Horses for courses
EQUINE specialist Dr Emma Nicol knew from a very young age that she wanted to devote her life to caring for horses.
Now, as a vet specialising in all things equine, she’s busy doing just that as
she runs her EquiVets Victoria practice from her lush 50-acre property at Musk.
It’s an ambulatory and clinic-based practice seeing patients from racehorses and
competition horses to pleasure horses and pony club mounts, across Central Victoria
including Daylesford, Ballarat and Bendigo.
The Musk property is not just where Emma’s clinic is based, it also accommodates
brood mares, racehorses and horses recovering from injury or surgery.
“Spring gets very intense with breeding and foaling,” Emma tells The Local
following a morning’s successful emergency foaling.
Her main interests encompass equine medicine and everything from foals to
geriatrics, and she’s passionate about thoroughbred and standardbred racing.
“I started the business in 2013. I bought the Musk property at the end of 2019
but I’ve been here now for about a year,” she says.
Emma grew up on a sheep and beef farm at Lismore in Victoria’s Western District
and was around horses, enjoying eventing and showing, from a very early age.
“I think I was about two when my parents realised they’d lost me to the horses,”
After realising where her passions were leading her, Emma completed a Diploma
of Horse Business Management at Marcus Oldham College before undertaking her
veterinary degree at Massey University, New Zealand.
After completing her veterinary degree in 2005, she then went to further her
veterinary education at Kansas State University, USA, completing an internship in
equine internal medicine and surgery.
That included intensive training with world-renowned equine medicine and
“There’s lots to my job that’s rewarding,” she reflects.
“With racing and sports horses you’re getting the best out of these athletes and we
get to see them fulfil their potential and perform at their best.
“There’s also the pleasure of seeing healthy foals, seeing the good work pay off,
and sending horses that have been unwell, home as healthy horses.”
As an ambulatory practice, many hours are spent on the road, travelling out to
clients’ own properties to see patients, as well as seeing them at the Musk property
that Emma has poured countless hours into developing especially for the purpose.
“It’s been a very big project, putting in a lot of horse-safe fencing, planting lots of
trees,” she reflects.
A qualified international equestrian federation vet and FEI treating vet, Emma
is also a member of the Australian Veterinary Association and Equine Veterinarians
Australia, and a former EVA Victorian state representative.
She says the hours involved in veterinary practice can be demanding, and as a solo
practitioner amid the current global shortage of vets, she’s keen to secure an associate
to join her busy practice.
“There is a worldwide shortage of vets at the moment, not just equine vets, and I
think the reason is multi-faceted,” she says, naming long and at times irregular hours
among the challenges of her calling.
“You need a passion for it. It can be tough and we do work long hours. Horses
don’t know when it’s 5pm.”
Words: Eve Lamb | Images: Kyle Barnes