You, or your staff, might be responsible for providing the daily care for the horses in your barn, but veterinarians and farriers also play a key role in the animals' care. What happens when you have a horse losing blood from a deep laceration, a horse that is three-legged lame, or a horse that loses a shoe when you need to load up to go to a show and the identified veterinarian or farrier is unavailable or doesn’t respond?
If you can’t answer that question, you need a contingency plan.
A contingency plan outlines an “action plan” and helps manage the anxiety inherent in an emergency.
Laura Napoleone, owner Hudson Derby Stables and Lead Change Solutions, an equine consulting agency in Massachusetts, explained that a back-up for veterinarians or farriers starts with the routine care they provide in non-emergency situations.
“First, you have to treat them with respect and pay your bills on time. Then ask them about their contingency plans for when they are on vacation or something unexpected happens in their business,” she said.
Sometimes, even the best laid plans can fail. Then what?
Network with veterinarians and farriers in your area and keep a list with contact numbers easily accessible in the barn so that they are easy to find.
Large facilities are likely have more than one veterinarian or farrier who visits the barn. Establish relationships with these individuals and make them feel welcome, even if they don’t see your horses. Then in the event that you need help, they will be more willing to step-in and assist.
Include a clause in your boarding or training contract that explains what will happen in the event of an emergency when the client’s regular veterinarian or farrier is unavailable, especially if the client uses different professionals than everyone else in the barn does. This provides you peace of mind that the horse can be managed properly, and the client should feel reassured that his or her horse will not go without care.