Rose Bud woman named PATH Veterinarian of the Year

By Syd Hayman Published December 11, 2016 at 12:00 a.m.
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Diana Cantey

Angel Jordan, owner of Arkansas Equine Services in Rose Bud, has been named PATH Veterinarian of the Year. PATH, which stands for Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship, is an international organization that governs therapeutic riding programs. Jordan, who said horses are her favorite animal, was nominated for the honor by Hearts & Hooves of Sherwood.

For Rose Bud-based veterinarian Angel Jordan, animals have always been a way of life, and her dedication to clients and their animals hasn’t gone unnoticed.

In November, Jordan was named PATH Veterinarian of the Year, less than two months after winning the organization’s Region 8 Veterinarian of the Year title. PATH, which stands for Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship, is an international organization that governs therapeutic riding programs, and its Region 8 covers Arkansas, Louisiana, Texas and Oklahoma.

“It’s still shocking. I don’t feel deserving,” Jordan said. “I’m just a kid doing what she loves to do. The most recognition I can get is for that animal to get better and for the owner to be pleased and have a return phone call. You don’t set out trying to break records or win awards.”

Lisa Evans of Hearts & Hooves, a PATH-accredited riding program in Sherwood, nominated Jordan for the award. Jordan, who could not attend the PATH convention where she won Vet of the Year, is the veterinarian for Hearts & Hooves.

“I went to Hearts & Hooves the following week to actually receive my award, and they did a mock presentation, which was super cool,” Jordan said. “Again, I was flabbergasted and speechless. It’s very humbling to have your hard work recognized.”

Jordan, the owner of Arkansas Equine Services, which is operated in her front yard, grew up on a farm in Wynne surrounded by dogs, cats, horses and chickens.

“Animals were such a part of our daily routine, our daily activities. They were play buddies,” Jordan said. “They were sometimes counselors you went to talk to. They were always a part of my life, and I just think that I developed a bond when I was really young that I wanted to nurture and grow as I got older.”

She attended Murray State University in Murray, Kentucky, for her Bachelor of Science degree in agriculture and graduated from Oklahoma State University’s veterinary school in 2007. Having come from rural Arkansas, Jordan said, she is thankful for her undergrad experience in the school’s agriculture department, which allowed her to have her personal horse with her on campus her last three years at the school.

“They’re really strong and family-oriented,” she said. “If you were sick, they were calling to check on you. ‘Hey, you haven’t been in class in two days. Are you OK? Is there anything we can do for you? Do we need to call somebody for you?’ Coming from a rural community there in Wynne, that was really important, to go somewhere that still had that small-town family feel.”

After leaving veterinary school in May 2007, Jordan worked at Morrilton Veterinary Clinic, a mixed-animal clinic in Morrilton, for two years, then at a Searcy mixed-animal clinic for a year. Jordan said a mixed-animal setting brought new experiences for her each day.

“I might [have] an appointment with a dog and then go pull a calf and turn around and work on a horse and then spay a cat,” she said. “I mean, never boring. Never boring, and no day ever the same.”

Now, as the sole business owner of Arkansas Equine Services, which she has run since 2010, Jordan acts out every role necessary to run a successful clinic. Along with being the veterinarian, she is the secretary and treasurer of her business, and 98 percent of her clients visit her for care for their horses — her all-time favorite animal.

“You have to return the phone calls, you have to set up the appointments, and then you’re still left with all the paperwork to do,” she said of running the business on her own. “A lot of times, that’s at night. Whether that’s sending bills or doing bank statements, there’s a lot of paperwork just involved in my daily job that has to be reported to the state laboratory in Little Rock.”

Many of her clients show horses and visit her business every three to four months to make sure their animals are healthy and sound. Other clients ship horses overseas as part of their breeding program. Jordan said animals that do not participate in shows and instead live in a pasture should still see a vet twice a year.

“A lot of diseases and parasites that our pets can get can actually be transmitted to us, so veterinarians are a vital role in the prevention and identification of zoonotic diseases,” Jordan said. “That’s probably the most crucial. The other thing, too, [is the] import of animals into the United States. There’s a lot of foreign diseases that we don’t have. As a veterinarian, we’re the first line of defense against those because oftentimes, we’re the first professional who sees that animal that potentially has a foreign disease. It’s our responsibility to the public and to the public health to report anything suspicious.”

Jordan does not miss working in a mixed-animal setting and said that even on the worst of days, she wouldn’t trade working mainly with horses.

“They’re really patient. And they’re nonjudgmental,” she said. “When you’re a kid growing up and peer pressure gets to you, and you just want a friend that’s not going to look down upon you for anything and accepts who you are — the horse was always there for me. I grew up horse-showing, both my parents had horse-showed. So it was just real natural.”

Jordan is also a single mother who said that part of her job as a business owner is managing time between work and her son, Eli, 7.

“Eli’s really fun, and he doesn’t mind getting in the truck and going on farm calls, and his first question is, ‘Do they have kids?’ He’s wanting to play,” Jordan said. “I can’t tell you how many client’s kids jump out of the truck and run up to my house, and we don’t see them for an hour, an hour and a half, and the kids are just playing.”

There are challenges to being both the owner of Arkansas Equine Services and a mom, she said. Jordan aims to avoid working on Sundays, and she works every other Saturday. During breeding season, February to June, her business is open 24/7, and this past Thanksgiving, her phone rang three times regarding an animal.

“You get calls on Thanksgiving. You get calls on Christmas,” she said. “You have to prioritize, and you have to time-manage. There are some times when it’s very frustrating, and you wish you had a clone or a robot, but you have to remind everybody: ‘I’m one person. I’m doing the best that I can.’”

Jordan’s clients stretch from Atkins to Jonesboro to Redfield, and most of her clients live in Faulkner, White and Cleburne counties. Jordan, who puts about 50,000 miles on her truck each year, tries not to travel farther than an hour and a half away for clients, but longstanding clients who have been with her since the beginning of her career are the exceptions.

“I make a lot of farm calls, and I have a lot of people that haul to me at Rose Bud,” Jordan said. “It just depends on the situation and what I’m going to do to the animal. A lot of times, if I’m going to do radiographs or an ultrasound, I request that they come to my barn for the safety of the equipment.”

Jordan said that when a child reaches out to her, she is reminded of why she does the work that she does

“I have a lot of youth clients that horse-show and rodeo, and nothing makes me prouder [than] when the next time they see me, they run up and give me a big hug, or they send me a video of their successful rodeo on their phone, or their parents do, or they mention you on a Facebook post,” she said. “That’s why you work.”

Lisa Evans, equine manager at Hearts & Hooves, said Jordan is professional and compassionate and has helped the Sherwood-based program save $500 by informing it of a grant for vaccinations.

“I think she has a business and personal relationship with everybody that she deals with,” Evans said. “You’re never just a number. She takes into consideration you and your horses.”

Evans said she nominated Jordan for PATH Veterinarian of the Year because she is a newer vet to the Hearts & Hooves program but has proven her commitment. Evans attended the convention where Jordan was named Vet of the Year and said the Hearts & Hooves team immediately texted Jordan after learning that she won.

“It was really fun, and I thought, ‘Wow, what an honor because this is an international award,’” Evans said. “That really says a lot about her.”

For Jordan, she said being a veterinarian is not a job that she leaves at the end of the day; it’s a career that she takes with her wherever she goes. There’s no simple trip to the bank, church or hair salon without someone seeking counsel about their animal, but she said that proves the trust that the community has in her.

“I would say the one thing that I would like people to know is, ‘Set out to do something that’s going to bring you joy, that when your body is sore and you’re tired, you still don’t mind getting up and going to work that day,’” Jordan said.

Staff writer Syd Hayman can be reached at (501) 244-4307 or shayman@arkansasonline.com.

Staff Writer Syd Hayman can be reached at 501-244-4342 or shayman@arkansasonline.com.

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