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Nikki Scherrer with her horses

She has loved them since she was 6: vet cares for, competes with and rescues horses

Nikki Dalesandro Scherrer ’07 loved horses since she was 6, so swapping out plans to be a physician to become a large animal veterinarian wasn’t too much a stretch.

She had entered DePauw with a notion to following her mother, a nurse, into medicine. Human medicine. But something clicked when a classmate decided to go to vet school, and a winter term class at an equine business cinched Scherrer’s decision.

“I got to work with the local and horse show veterinarians and knew it was something I was really interested in,” she said.

Her experience as a science research fellow at DePauw “gave me just a really nice base in research, combined with a biochemistry major,” Scherrer said. “And DePauw has a great reputation. The courses are just solid foundation classes. So I think it made an easy transition applying to the medical field.”

Nikki Scherrer in a steeplechase

Scherrer graduated from the Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine, interned at the Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital in Lexington, Kentucky, and completed an ophthalmology residency at the University of Pennsylvania’s New Bolton Center, where today she is an assistant professor of clinical large animal ophthalmology.

She teaches veterinary students and oversees fourth-year students on clinical rotations. “Having them around with all the cases and asking great questions is awesome,” she said. “They keep me on my toes.”

She also practices medicine at the center, which treats about 5,000 patients a year. “It’s a high case load,” she said. “It’s a lot of hours, but luckily I enjoy what I do.”

Scherrer is one of the founders of Omega Horse Rescue, a nonprofit committed to providing humane treatment for horses through education, research and high-quality care.

“We end up adopting about 60 horses a year and help a total of around 150,” she said. “It’s fun to see horses that were slated to not have a future get to have a new career.”

She adopted a rescue horses – Ears – and she owns two others, Tiger and Gnat. They’re all Thoroughbreds. 

“I ride every day – early in the morning or late after work,” she said. “I ride a mix of my horses and rescues that I volunteer to ride so they can become more adoptable.”

She and her horses also compete in dressage events and show jumping.

“I love the feeling of going out with your horse and just having a great round and knowing that everything you worked on has paid off,” she said. “The stress from work can go away for a few minutes and all that matters is what you are doing.”


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