Short info about yourself
My name is Helga Meier, I am from Austria (Lower Austria), 28 years old and at the moment I work at a mobile horse practice in Bavaria, Germany.
Why did you decide to become a vet?
I always knew that it’s a privilege to be born in this world with these possibilities and I wanted to help those who can’t help themselves.
Where did you study?
I studied at the University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna. For me, as an Equine Vet, the VUW was a great place to learn because the last part this education is based on specializing at one specific species (in my case Equines) and starting a job with this amount of knowledge is an enormous help. The VUW has amazing professors with endless muse and patience to teach their students. If you want to specialize in one specific species, I would definitely recommend the VUW. The only sad thing is that when you graduate in Vienna, you don’t have the license to work in the USA, Africa, etc.. So if you know that you want to work somewhere else after your graduation you should choose a university offering this permission.
4 years ago ???? Unbelievable how time flies! Today 4 years ago I did my first equine surgery by myself! With my best bro from equine specialization! We stayed for 4 days at the Austrian Army (Bundesheer) to castrate their Haflingers. It was an amazing experience! And I will never forget the pale faces of the soldiers when we castrated the stallions ???? ???? Habt acht!! ????
As a horse doctor, did you specialize in the field? Tell us more about working with horses.
Working with horses can be very dangerous. There are unspoken rules you should never break. Never stand directly behind a horse (I have learned this the hard way), don’t stay between the horse and a wall if there is no way out; don’t trust a horse with pain, etc. Of course women are less strong than men but men are also weaker than most of the horses. I´ve had patients I could carry through the stable – of course I was stronger than this horse, but most of the patients are 600kg horses, which don’t care if you´re male or female. Be patient but also stick to your rules:
I don’t accept it if a horse tries to kick or bite me, but I accept it if a horse tries to get away from me. You have to read those patients: do they want to hurt you or are they just scared. If there is a horse who is just scared you need patience and you will be able to handle this patient. If there is a horse who consciously tries to hurt you, you need to be smart. We have ways to handle those patients: sedatives, twitches, chains, etc. – Don’t think you can fight with them; you will lose and maybe get hurt or in the worst case – die. Always be aware that a 600kg horse can easily kill you with ONE precise kick. So be smart, use sedatives or other tricks and most importantly : stay cool.
The ups of working with large animals are that its way easier to hit a vein.
The downs of working with large animals are that they are very heavy. When a dog can’t stand up on his own, one or at least two persons will be able to help him. That’s a totally different thing with a horse. Also examinations are more difficult: an x-ray, and ultrasound, the length of an arm, all of these things have their limit, which is reached faster than you think, especially if you need to find a diagnose.
You are a traveling vet! How did it come to that?
As I said I am working as an equine vet in Bavaria but I have a job that offers 43 days of holidays. I use these holidays to travel to different countries and help animals. As I said with my VUW diploma I am not allowed to work in Africa or other areas of the world but I am allowed to volunteer and that’s great. I wouldn’t want to travel to a country to help donkeys and take money for it. When I work with organizations, I don’t want that those organizations to use their money paying me – I want them using their money to help animals and other people.
???? MY WORLD MAP ???? A flag for every place I have visited ???? The Next Trips are : Georgia, Marocco, Peru, Brasil and Bolivia ???? @toby_violin . . . . . #worldmap #mapoftheworld #globetrotter #globetrotters #globe #globetravel #travelgram #travelblogger #traveladdict #travelphoto #travelblog #travelling #reiselust #reiseblogger #reiseblog #weltreise #weltkarte #weltenbummler #reisetagebuch #wanderlust #vscotravel #travelwithme #travelmore #travelasia #travelporn #travelafrica #travelusa
Share one of your most interesting stories as a traveling vet with us!
One of the greatest experiences as a travelling vet was the successful treatment of a lame donkey in Tanzania. He couldn’t use his leg anymore so the owner, an old lady, couldn’t use him to get water from the water hole or carry her goods to and from the market. I found out that the problem of the lameness was a thorn that was deep in his hoof. After removing the thorn he could walk immediately. Even if the donkey wasn’t as thankful as the owner, (he kicked me away when I found out where the pain came from), I will never forget the indescribable happiness over the old ladys face – she gave me a red Masai blanket as a gift and was hooting with laughter – it was definitely one of the moments I am living for.
We see a lot of interesting pictures from your patients. Can you tell us more about the ones you found the most interesting and the most challenging?
That’s a hard question. Challenging patients sometimes don’t have a happy end. They´ll leave you restless for days and when they finally die you will overthink all of your treatments again and again. I had a very sad case this year where the whole team was involved but we couldn’t help this patient and after one week he died. At the end you are somehow relieved but also depressed. But challenging patients who manage to survive are the best. Injuries that heal, bones that cure – that’s what´s keeping your hopes up. I had this patient who almost starved to death because the owners didn’t realize that its teeth were so deformed that it couldn’t eat. The pony was so skinny when I first saw it, that I wasn’t sure if it would survive. I could carry it from one side of the box to the other side, just to give you an idea how emaciated it was. When I treated his teeth (I also extracted two teeth) it recovered in 2 weeks. Today you wouldn’t believe that it almost died a few months ago. Lameness and colic can also be very interesting. My own horse, which became my horse after his owners wanted to euthanize him after a long period of fever and abscesses, was lame because of an abscess in his gluteal muscles. So lameness can have so many reasons. I once had a horse which had colic and I found out the reason for it – it had eaten a small rope and I found it during the rectal. My boss always says – the most importing thing in medicine is a perfect examination.
Do you have any pets? If yes, how do you take care of them while traveling?
My dogs are with my boyfriend or with my family. During my work my dogs drive with me in my car.
Do you have any advice for the future vets?
Don’t do it. But if you do it always imagine the animal is your animal.
What countries have you visited so far as a vet and what are your plans for the future?
As a vet: South Africa, New Zealand, Australia, Croatia, Slovenia, Austria, Germany, USA, Canada, Bosnia, Botswana and Romania.
I want to visit every country in the World, at the moment I have visited 60. I am not sure in how many countries I´m actually going to work but I will try to volunteer in as much as I can.
If you liked this article, read more here!