The 1969 film, They Shoot Horses, Don't They? provides a contextual background for what appears to be happening to medical teachers as they attempt to cope with teaching during the COVID-19 pandemic, staving off the threat of exhaustion. This short piece argues that it is necessary for medical education institutions to recognise the changing demands made on, and by, their teachers, so that they can prevent burnout, and provide the support required to take online teaching to the levels that will now be expected. It traces the medical teachers' changes across three stages of development, commenting on the overall mood, attitudes towards students, teaching focus, research focus, computer usage, theoretical knowledge and self-growth, assessment and institutional support. The aim is to provide some degree of insight into medical teachers' needs so that adequate anticipation and responses can occur before it is too late.