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Dr. Maria Soledad Ferrer

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Associate Professor for University of Georgia’s Department of Large Animal Medicine, Reproductive Medicine Service, Veterinary Teaching Hospital

How many years have you been riding/ been working with horses?
I have been riding for 40 years and working for over 25 years.

Describe your personal goals and overall hope and vision for the Equestrian Community in terms of expanding and sharing horses and equestrian sports with individuals from all walks of life:
For many of us, our horses are family and are deeply rooted in our culture. For the Hispanic community that I serve, horses are the center of social events, contribute to their well-being, and help them form social bonds with others that share the same interests. However, access to veterinary care and equestrian events is often challenging. As a veterinarian, my goal is to improve equity and access to veterinary care for horse owners from underrepresented groups, and to contribute to the horses’ wellbeing through education. I hope to encourage individuals from underrepresented groups and first-time horse owners to join the equine industry, participate in equestrian sports, and contribute to the genetic improvement of the breeds that they so proudly raise.

How do you feel equestrian sports can better diversify our equestrian communities?
Although the equestrian community is welcoming and excited to receive new and diverse members, underrepresented groups can feel overwhelmed when first considering joining. Having peers, ambassadors or mentors that can guide new members during their initial years is of tremendous help and minimizes the anxiety of first-time equestrians.

What are ways you/ your organization have successfully introduced horses to new individuals in our community?
Making them feel supported, knowing that they are not alone if they decide to join our community, and that we are here to welcome them and help them build healthy and enjoyable relationships with their equine companions.
 

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