The Topspec Vet of the Year award is to celebrate the vets whose skill and professionalism make the most testing times of horse ownership that bit easier. The award winners will be revealed at the H&H Awards gala dinner at Ascot Racecourse on 2 November. Here is the shortlist:

Tony Lock, 44

Best thing about being a vet: “Working as part of a busy team of first-opinion veterinary surgeons; and dealing with a varied daily caseload of clients, many of whom I have known for a large portion of my career.”

Hardest part about being a vet: “Managing expectations and dealing with disappointment.”

2017 highlight: “Performing articial insemination on an advanced dressage mare and scanning her in foal this spring following a career-ending stifle injury earlier in the year.”

A moment that has made me smile: “Completing a 24-hour tooth rasping challenge for charity.”

What the client says: “Tony is professional, passionate and has the patience of a saint (with the horses and owners). Tony has helped so many clients and horses but it doesn’t end there. He has gone on to raise £5,000 for the Bob Champion Cancer Trust and ‘Livvy’s Race Day’ challenge by carrying out a ‘Raspathon’ — rasping 50 sets of horses’ teeth at 50 different yards in 24 hours.” Louise Maestrani

Natalie McGoldrick, 34

Best thing about being a vet: “I feel incredibly lucky to be able to earn my living making a difference to the lives of both horses, and their humans, every day.”

Hardest part about being a vet: “Euthanasias never get any easier, especially as I have often been treating these horses for years, so develop emotional attachments to them.”

2017 highlight: “Hearing about Lucky, a two-year-old who was very ill and needed plasma transfusions at a couple of days old, winning nearly every outing this year, including best section D at Surrey County.”

A moment that has made me smile: “When I go to treat my big donkey yard. There are a couple who we’ve got through potentially life-threatening conditions, and I’m always amazed at how astute donkeys are.”

What the client says: “Natalie is not only a fantastic vet but also a sensible vet who won’t spend your hard-earned cash unnecessarily. She really cares about her clients and their horses, often texting out of hours to check they are doing well.” Natacha Bonner

Andy Fiske-Jackson, 39

Best thing about being a vet: “Being able to save a horse’s life and seeing the incredible bond between a horse and its owner. I still get a massive buzz seeing a horse go home after colic surgery.”

Hardest part about being a vet: “Switching off! It’s hard not to spend time thinking about your cases even after work.”

2017 highlight: “Successfully operating on a horse with an abdominal hernia. The horse is being brought back into work.”

A moment that has made me smile: “As a newly qualified vet I helped an owner return her two donkeys to the field after vaccination. I was dragged like a reluctant high-speed water skier.”

What the client says: “My horse was diagnosed with a severe hindleg suspensory ligament injury and many specialists wrote him off. Andy arranged for a company to fly over from Ireland to fit a specialised boot. Within three months of using the Equestride boot and Andy’s dedication, my horse became sound and is competing in affiliated dressage and jumping at home.” Hayley Schenn

Spike Milligan, 35

Best thing about being a vet: “I’m very lucky that I have some wonderful clients and equally lovely horses to work with. I particularly like it when horses surprise me and pull through against all odds.”

Hardest part about being a vet: “Getting the work-life balance right is the hardest thing.”

2017 highlight: “I’m the vet for the junior eventing team and being at the championships in Millstreet, Ireland and watching Bubby Upton win individual gold was pretty special.”

A moment that has made me smile: “Helping to bring a horse back to full fitness after its owner was advised to euthanise him, and see him competing at Hartpury one-star this year.”

What the client says: “Spike performed stem cell therapy on my daughter’s Pony Club pony after other vets would not treat her. This year, two years after the injury, she finished seventh at the Pony Club intermediate eventing championships. Spike does not judge the horse because it is a cob — for him a tendon is a tendon.” Vicky Cresswell