Gulfport, Miss.—March 10
It’s a story that’s familiar to many horse enthusiasts. Young girl grows up loving all animals and riding horses, so she picks a career path that combines both—equine veterinary medicine. But that’s where Meredith Mouney’s journey took a different route.
“I loved animals, so I knew I wanted to go to veterinary school,” she said. “Then going into veterinary school, you think you want to become an equine vet because you love horses, but then you sort of realize that that lifestyle’s quite difficult. It’s very taxing.”
Knowing she wanted a balance in her work life, Mouney decided she’d pick a specialty that would allow her to keep more normal hours.
“I really liked ophthalmology—the class and the rotations through clinics—and really fell in love with it,” she said. “Then I did some out rotations in Texas, and that’s kind of the path I stuck with. I just made my mind up and decided I wanted to do ophthalmology.
“It’s neat because in my residency I saw a lot of horses, so I really got to do all species,” she continued. “And you do both medicine and surgery, so it’s really everything. You get client interactions, surgery, medicine and horses, small animals, exotics, so it really lets you do everything.”
She became a board-certified veterinary ophthalmologist in 2013 and works at Metairie Veterinary Ophthalmology Specialists in Metairie, Louisiana, where she focuses primarily on small animal medicine.
“My job is really great,” said Mouney. “It’s a good quality of life. I work during the week; I don’t work on weekends. My patients, for the most part, are usually happy and healthy with really dedicated owners who want to spend money on their eyes—which is not a necessity for life. It’s a cool job. I really like it, and I’m glad I did it.”
While it means she has a full schedule throughout the week, it also opens up Mouney’s weekends for riding. Mouney started riding at age 6, after begging her parents to let her go to a nearby farm. She had a pony party there, and as soon as she was tall enough to ride the horses, she was signed up for lessons. One thing led to another, and soon riding was a family affair with her mother Kriste Mouney joining her.
“It’s been a family endeavor ever since,” said Meredith. “We ride together on the weekends, and we show together. It makes it so much better to do it together.”
Meredith went on to compete on the University of Georgia’s NCAA equestrian team during her undergraduate career before pursing her advanced degree forced her to take a break. Though she showed occasionally in the late 2000s, she didn’t seriously return to the sport until 2014, on a now 21-year-old Dutch Warmblood named Owen at the Gulf Coast Winter Circuit.
When it came time for Owen to step down to the 2’6″ adult hunter with Kriste, Meredith knew her new horse would have some big shoes to fill. One of her primarily requirements is that her horses are safe, and Owen took the cake, as she felt comfortable riding the gelding until she was 7 ½ months pregnant with her son Theo Ralph, who is now 16 months old.
After a lengthy search, on Halloween of last year, Meredith discovered an 8-year-old Holsteiner gelding named Wayfarer who fit the bill.
“If he didn’t already have a good show name, [my trainer Genie Harper] thought we should call him Worth The Wait,” said Mouney. “I think I tried 40 some odd horses all over the place, Kentucky, Tennessee. A couple of them fell through in the works, and he came along in the very end. He was just really a saint. That’s kind of what I’m looking for in a horse, just a really sweet and solid and is going to be honest, and he’s all of the above.”
Since the partnership is still new, Meredith was just hoping to have good showings in the low amateur-owner hunters, 18-35, with “Baron,” and so far they’ve seen plenty of success with two championships to their name during the Gulf Coast Classic Winter Circuit.
“Genie picks the most safe horses for us, so she’s never going to put us on something that is going to jeopardize our health or risk us in any way,” said Meredith. “She’s exceptional in having these well-behaved, seasoned horses for us. Baron is young, but he’s got such a good mannerism at a really young age, so I feel very safe on him.
“It takes a village,” she said, of balancing work and a family with horse showing. “Of course, I have my mother who is crazy helpful with [Theo, who joins them on their weekend trips to Gulfport]. My husband is very supportive. He works a lot, but he’s very supportive of it.
“We’re always going, but it’s worth it,” she continued. “I work real hard during the week, and then we do this on the weekends. It’s a commitment, but it’s worth getting up at 5 in the morning to do.”
The Chronicle is at the Gulf Coast Classic March 9-11. Read our coverage of the USHJA International Hunter Derby from Friday, and return Sunday to read our coverage of the grand prix.