How Andy is taking a stand for horse welfare in regional communities

Andy Lamont has a vision to improve horse welfare and performance in regional Australia. It’s a vision that Andy works hard to achieve every day by offering high quality equine care in the Riverina.

Andy is driven by his passion for community and a desire to make positive change in his industry. So he jumped at the opportunity to put his professional veterinary and equine skills into action to service the regional areas that need his help the most.

On his return to Australia following an invaluable overseas experience as a locum, there was no horsing around for the proud Charles Sturt veterinary science graduate who wanted to make his next impact count closer to home.

Andy reached out to his local community to discover the major challenges and barriers for affiliates of the local equine industry. The community feedback was conclusive – there was a clear need for a dedicated mobile equine vet in the Wagga Wagga region.

As a result, Andy launched the area’s first mobile equine veterinary services clinic, providing high-quality veterinary care for the local equine population.

“The Australian horse industry generates between five and seven billion dollars annually. Many people in rural and regional communities rely on the industry for their livelihood. Having access to healthcare and professional services for their horses is imperative if the industry is going to continue to flourish into the future.” 

The clinic services some of the largest thoroughbred studs in New South Wales (NSW). It’s here that Andy developed his interest in specialising in equine reproduction.

Horse owners and industry affiliates can now rest easy knowing that their friendly equine vet is only a phone call away, bringing high quality equine dentistry, medical, and surgical care to rural and remote areas.

Thanks to Andy and his passionate team of horse enthusiasts, regional communities have been given access to the horse welfare and performance services they need.

Following his heart from the very start

Andy grew up on a mixed farming enterprise just north of Wagga Wagga. The farm incorporated a thoroughbred horse stud as well as winter cropping and sheep enterprises.

“Having grown up on a farm in regional NSW, I had always wanted to be a farmer. During my final years at high school we had a severe drought in the Riverina. I saw how tough farming can be when the weather is not on your side.

“This inspired me to search for a career that could be based in regional NSW, give me a skill set that would complement my farming ambitions and provide some off-farm income.”

Making history at Charles Sturt

Andy came to Charles Sturt as one of the first intake of eager veterinary science students at Wagga Wagga.

“The Charles Sturt veterinary course ticked all of those boxes. I was fortunate enough to be selected into the first intake of the course.

 “The course was fantastic and I found veterinary science fascinating. I graduated and spent a few years working in Queensland, Victoria and the United Kingdom before coming back to my home town of Wagga Wagga and setting up Riverina Equine Veterinary Services.”

“My most memorable moment was my first week of work as a veterinarian after spending six years at university. I was driving around all these beautiful properties, meeting great people, practicing veterinary science for the first time and absolutely loving it. The feeling of genuine achievement mixed in with equal parts excitement, adrenaline, fear and satisfaction were exhilarating… I was hooked.”

Versatile workplace learning prepares graduates

Hands-on learning and workplace experience in a variety of settings is behind the success of Charles Sturt vet graduates.

“The Charles Sturt University veterinary course had a major focus on getting students exposed to different veterinary workplaces from first year. This was extremely motivational for me. I saw and helped out with various veterinary procedures. It was also when I first started developing my network of mentors, many of whom I am still in contact with today. Workplace learning encouraged me to start developing my practical skills from an early stage, so when I graduated I was confident to perform many of these procedures competently on my own.”

Realising his true passion

When Andy enrolled in his course, he knew he wanted to be a vet – he just wasn’t sure which species he wanted to specialise in. This all became clear as he progressed further in his Charles Sturt degree.

“Throughout my university study I was still planning on farming part-time and practicing part-time, probably as a mixed practitioner in Wagga. The more I progressed through the course however, the more I realised that a veterinary career was for me.

“It wasn’t until final year that I decided on the species I would focus on after realising that working indoors wasn’t for me.”

After Andy graduated from Charles Sturt, he moved to Beaudesert in Queensland to work in equine practice.

“I took a job in South East Queensland which was a predominantly an equine practice but also gave me exposure to the dairy and beef industries. After working two busy breeding seasons up there I decided that I wanted to be an equine vet.”    

Making an international impact as a locum

Andy was able to broaden his perspective on horse welfare and share his skills with the world when he worked as a locum in the UK. He worked in Cambridgeshire, a short drive from Newmarket, the racing capital of the United Kingdom, before moving to Suffolk.

He offered a wide range of services and clients varied from high performance equestrians, pleasure horse owners, thoroughbred trainers and breeders.

There were some stand-out differences in the UK that Andy’s hadn’t experienced at his workplace experience on home soil.

“Working in the UK was extremely different to working on big stud farms and cattle farms in Queensland. The first difference was the animal numbers. Instead of seeing 50–1000 horses or cattle in a day, I was seeing 5–10 with many hours in between driving around the beautiful countryside of southern England and drinking many cups of tea.”

Andy enjoyed the change in pace and later starts that working in the English countryside had to offer.

“I certainly still got some work done. However, there were no 5am starts or the 16-hour days that I had experienced in stud practice in Australia.”

Vets in the community

The second major difference was how vets are perceived by the community.

“In the UK, vets are treated with reverence compared to my previous experiences in Australia. I transitioned from being called ‘mate’, to being addressed as ‘sir.’ Everyone fussed over my every need and always had a hot cup of tea waiting on my arrival. My boss at one clinic wore a bow tie and monocle to work each day and white overalls when he was out on farm. If I had turned up wearing that to my Australian farm clients I would have been laughed back out the front gate!”

Andy’s versatile skills from his days on the farm were invaluable while working overseas.

“The third difference was the farm work. For instance, I was doing jobs that most Australian farmers would do themselves, such as marking lambs and calves, dehorning cattle and administering antibiotic and anti-inflammatory medications.”

“Strict welfare requirements and meat safety legislation meant that vets in the UK played a pivotal role in every farm no matter how small the holding.” 

Taking experience back home

“Overall, my experience was extremely positive and I would recommend that every young vet spends some time working in the UK. It’s a great way to travel as accommodation and a car are usually provided.

“Staying in one place for a month or more allows you to integrate into the community and experience what life in England was really about. It was also a great base for travelling around Europe, which I did for a few months between locum positions.”

While Andy gained a lot from his overseas experiences, his was happy to return to his hometown and re-establish his life in the community that he loves.

“The relaxed and friendly nature of country people, easy access to services, housing affordability and the landscape [makes living in the country appealing].”

A proud advocate for horse welfare and performance

Andy is a strong believer that the recipe for making a great equine vet is good interpersonal skills, a solid work ethic, knowledge of and passion for the equine industry.

“We pride ourselves on educating our clients and supplying resources for them to build their knowledge about horse health, welfare and performance. Through our consultations, monthly newsletters, website and client education evenings we strive to be a source of practical and up-to-date information that will result in improved practices and positive effects on animal welfare and performance.

“Providing an after-hours emergency service gives our clients peace of mind. It ensures, therefore, that high levels of animal welfare can be maintained, even when accidents or illnesses occur outside of business hours.”  

“Similarly, by providing high quality veterinary care in a fun and friendly way, I want to encourage and assist horse owners, trainer and breeders to be successful in all their pursuits. I want to help my patients in the best way I can and so deliver peace of mind to horse owners in my little corner of the world.”

Create a world worth living in

What does a better world look like to you? Does it mean finding a cure for illnesses, improving education, making new discoveries, leading a movement or developing innovative technologies? Or is it about having an impact in your local community and making a difference to the little guys out there? If you want to make a difference in a career you’re passionate about, you can with us.

Our wide range of courses will give you the skills and industry knowledge to be the change you want to see in the world. Follow your heart, get qualified and land a job you’ll love with Charles Sturt University. Let’s get to work!