Why I Created Horse Side Vet Guide

fin3_verticalb copy 2This cartoon is obviously a joke, but as a long-time equine veterinarian, scenarios like this are too familiar to me. Misinformation (usually found on the Internet – a/k/a “Dr. Google”) leads caretakers to make guesses about their horse’s condition rather than contacting a veterinarian.  


Of course, many horses heal fine without veterinary help, and sometimes the information found online is helpful. But sometimes the delay in contacting a veterinarian (and procuring a correct diagnosis and targeted treatment) may result in unnecessary suffering for a horse, and ultimately a worse prognosis and increased vet costs. 




In early 2011, the horse industry was in a shambles. The value of horses was down, and the cost of equine care was rapidly increasing. Caretakers (owners, trainers, etc) 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. It was driving me crazy!  I was seeing all these horses that had been treated incorrectly, or whose problems had been ignored, and often because of misinformation found on the Internet.


At that same time, smartphones were exploding onto the scene. When I first used a smartphone that spring, I realized that this little device, like it or not, was going to change the way people did things. 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?


So in that spring of 2011, 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. I wanted it to be easier to use, faster, more helpful than a web search, and I wanted it to be available even without Internet access.




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.  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.




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, neither of us had a clue about software development. The learning curve was steep, and we made plenty of mistakes, and some really serious and costly ones. 


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.



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 70 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 64,000 interested and engaged 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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