Although you might have the utmost respect for the equine professional (veterinarian, farrier, massage therapist, dentist, feed supplier, etc.) that is part of your horse’s care-taking team, you might find over time that you have a different philosophy on how things should be done. Or, you could have had a bad experience with an individual and find it best to change to another professional.
There are a variety of reasons why horse owners and stable managers change professional service providers, but once you’ve made that decision, how can you do so in as courteous and professional a manner as possible?
Here are some key points:
- If you are changing veterinarians, then you, as the client, need to give written and/or verbal authorization for transfer of medical records to another practitioner. These documents are typically transferred from veterinarian to veterinarian rather than from vet to client. Imaging records must remain the “property” of the veterinarian for anywhere from 3-7 years depending on state legal statutes, so don’t expect radiographs, ultrasounds, etc. to be transferred permanently unless they are copies.
- It is common courtesy to advise your equine veterinarian that you will be switching to another practitioner for your horse’s or stable's care. If you are uncomfortable making that communication, then one practical strategy is to have your new veterinarian call the previous vet to request medical records—that will get the message across.
- As for farriers, many of them schedule the next appointment when finishing up a visit. If you decline to reschedule or call to cancel a future appointment without rescheduling, then that is a tip off to the farrier that you are seeking hoof care elsewhere.
- As for advising the professional as to why you are making the switch: If it is because of a negative experience, then it is often easier to convey the message via a short note in hope that the service provider will learn something from the communication. Remember to thank the individual for the care and concern they have provided in the past as you probably had a relationship for some time and not all of your experiences were bad.
- Refrain from bad-mouthing any professional in public, or even among friends. You might have had a single bad experience, but that does not mean that the professional has a steady track record of such actions, only that in your case, something happened once. You can radically affect the client base of an equine professional and hence his or her income because of negative comments, which might not be true in general.
- Sometimes you elect to change not because of some bad experience with a particular professional, but perhaps it is a matter of convenience for your schedule or because you wish to try another opinion or technique. If that is truly the case, then have the courtesy to communicate to your equine professional that you’d like another opinion and are not necessarily planning on leaving his or her services entirely.
The bottom line for all of this is “don’t burn your bridges.” Think of how you’d like to be treated in a similar situation, and act accordingly.