Horse Side Vet Guide ®

Equine Health Resource


Why I Created Horse Side Vet Guide

fin3_verticalb copy 2This cartoon is obviously a joke, but as a long-time equine vet, scenarios like this are too familiar to me. Misinformation (often found on the Internet – a/k/a “Dr. Google”) leads caretakers to make guesses about their horse’s condition rather than contacting a vet.  
Of course, some horses heal fine without veterinary help. But sometimes the delay in procuring a diagnosis and targeted treatment may cause unnecessary suffering for a horse, and ultimately a worse prognosis and increased vet costs.
Birth of An Idea
In early 2011, the horse industry was in a shambles. The value of horses was down, and the cost of care was ever higher. Caretakers were trying harder than ever to find answers to horse health questions on the Internet, and they were delaying calls to the vet whenever possible.
About that same time, smartphones were exploding on the scene. When I bought my first one that Spring, it occurred to me that this little device was going to change the way people did things (like it or not). For the first time in history, everyone would have immediate access to the world of information on their phone! I wondered … Could I use a smartphone to help horse owners make better horse health decisions?
I envisioned building a tool that would provide horse owners the key horse health information they needed, right when they needed it, on their smartphone – in the stall, at a show, on a ranch, or out on the trail. I envisioned them using this tool when they first had a question about their horse, while they were literally standing next to their horse – “horse side”. And that is how Horse Side Vet Guide was born.
What is HSVG & How Does it Work?
Horse Side Vet Guide is based on a constantly growing, online database of thousands of interconnected equine health “Fast Facts” – short, concise articles on almost every aspect of horse health.  
  • Head & Neck in iPhone

    HSVG includes dozens of custom-made anatomic illustrations and short instructional videos, ALWAYS on the phone when you need them, with or without Internet connection.

    • I created numerous images and videos that show you what anatomy you really need to know.
  • • The HSVG database contains concise information about everything from common equine health problems to rare diseases, veterinary diagnostic tests and treatments.
  • • More importantly, HSVG provides helpful information from the moment you make an Observations include things like: “my horse has a runny eye, seems wobbly, isn’t eating, broke into the feed room last night, is depressed, has a wound to the lower hind leg etc…” Currently there are currently over 660 Observations in HSVG, and the list keeps growing! The list is based on my 23 years of experience as an equine vet.
  • Observations List in iPhone

    Currently, there are 662 Horse Owner Observations & counting! Here are the first few of the list.

    Colic Observation in iPhone

    Example of the kind of information contained within each of the 662 Observations, always on your phone, with or without Internet!

    • HSVG also acts as a hub for thousands of reliable, important web resources for horse owners – Outside Resources – that expand upon the information we have created.
What an Adventure!
When I started, I had no idea how hard it was going to be to create HSVG. Certainly I would not have gotten far without my wife. She supported the idea from the beginning and has tirelessly worked on it with me. When we started, we knew nothing about software development. The learning curve was steep and we made plenty of mistakes.
Over the course of two and a half years, we struggled with multiple software development teams before finally finding the right ones. Much of the work we did in the middle of the night (every night) – since we had a baby son to care for and the veterinary practice to run. At times we were exhausted, but our commitment to HSVG was always strong. We have always been and still are extremely passionate about this project.
You can search our website for information using our equine models. This is just one of many features we will add to the mobile app in the future.

You can search our website for information using our equine models. This is just one of many features we will add to the mobile app in the future.

Over time, we gradually defined the information and the structure that you really need when you have a question about your horse’s health.
The Future
We have many exciting improvements planned for HSVG. Our goal is to help you be the best equine caretaker you can be by providing you with reliable, relevant information, and by helping you communicate better with your local veterinarian. 
Importantly, HSVG works best when it is used as a supplement to – and not a substitute for – that important relationship.
  • • The Horse Side Vet Guide smartphone app is available on iTunes for iPhone/ iPad and on Google Play for Android devices and costs a $4.99 one-time fee.  The app has been downloaded in over 60 countries and has stellar reviews on both stores. HSVG is widely considered the best horse health app in the world.
  • • The FREE website is You can see all the same information here as is contained in the app. But unlike the app, the website requires Internet connection and is not made for mobile use – it is best viewed on a standard computer screen.
  • • We have over 50,000 interested followers on a very lively Facebook page. Join us on Facebook for quizzes and case studies. 
– Doug Thal DVM DABVP, Creator of Horse Side Vet Guide
Dr. Thal has been a horseman his entire life. His father was a steeplechase rider and polo player. He grew up on a family cattle and horse ranch in Mora County, New Mexico and has been riding and training horses since early childhood. He has been an equine veterinarian since 1993 working on a mix of performance and pleasure horses. His special interests are lameness and surgery. Thal is board certified by the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners, in Equine Practice. He continues to manage his equine veterinary hospital, Thal Equine, outside of Santa Fe, New Mexico.


  1. Great work on this revolutionary idea. “Try the experiment” is right on. Thanks for helping horse owners and horses everywhere.

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