Selecting an Equine Veterinarian

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The saying “healthy as a horse” doesn’t always hold true when it comes to an equine athlete. There are often musculoskeletal and medical issues that need to be addressed to keep your horse in tip-top shape. Great health care requires a team of professionals, foremost among them your equine veterinarian. There are various types of veterinary practices just as there are different personalities of practitioners. So how do you choose, especially if you are choosing for a stable full of client horses?

Credit: Thinkstock How do you choose the right veterinarian, especially if you have a stable full of horses?

Credit: Thinkstock How do you choose the right veterinarian, especially if you have a stable full of horses?

A starting point is to decide if you want to hire a mobile practitioner or if you’d rather take the time to haul horses into an equine clinic/hospital. Word of mouth from fellow horse owners also yields great information about a vet’s knowledge, personality and professionalism. In addition, you might ask yourself a few questions about what features meet your criteria for service and convenience:

  • Do you want to deal only with the same person each time a horse needs attention? This is likely to point you toward a small practice. Or are you willing to accept whichever vet is available in a larger group practice?
  • Are you willing to wait for an appointment with a highly skilled practitioner with a large case load, or do you feel that your horses must have immediate attention even in non-emergency situations?
  • Are your horses frequently in need of 24x7 emergency care, or are most problems able to be scheduled during business hours?
  • Are you willing to use another emergency vet on nights and weekends if your preferred vet is not available?
  • Is price a consideration for your budget, or are you willing to pay a bit more for experience and knowledge?
  • Do you require a payment plan or billing services, or are you prepared to pay at time of service?

Other important points to focus on when selecting a veterinarian have to do with the vet’s professional capabilities as well as whether there is active pursuit of professional development that keeps your vet abreast of on-going advancements in equine medicine. Does the vet regularly attend continuing educational programs, and is the vet affiliated with a professional organization like the American Association of Equine Practitioners?

While you might seek out a nice personality, it only benefits you and your horses good if your vet is experienced, competent, up-to-date on knowledge and skill set, and is continually seeking advanced learning in the field of equine medicine. A cheerful and dependable personality is a bonus.

Answers to these basic questions will lead you to a choice of an appropriate practitioner for your own horses, and your stable.

Make time to discuss your needs with a prospective veterinarian so you can know in advance if that individual will be the best team member for your horses' care. Each practitioner conducts his or her practice in a particular way, and the best relationship is formed when the horse care philosophies of you and your vet complement each other.