Working With Your Equine Vet

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Credit: Thinkstock

Credit: Thinkstock

The key to successful management and treatment of your horse and your clients' horses relies on an excellent working relationship with your veterinarian. Often, this hinges on many factors, foremost of which are competence, trust and good communication. Following are some steps can you take to ensure that you and your veterinarian forge the best partnership on behalf of your horse. Use this to help your boarders set guidelines for their behaviors, and as a springboard for a discussion with your veterinarian about his or her preferences.

Much of what goes into producing a team approach depends on your involvement in the process.

  • Select a veterinarian who is not only competent, but who is also someone you get along with and is receptive to your philosophy of how much medical care you feel is appropriate for your horse.
  • Make yourself available to be present for your appointments and come prepared to exercise, restrain and handle the horse as necessary. If your plans change and you cannot be available, then contact your vet in advance to reschedule.
  • Be on time for appointments and have your horse ready and waiting. Ask your veterinarian to contact you if she/he is going to be more than 15 minutes late so you know what to expect.
  • Be respectful of your veterinarian’s time and expertise.
  • Refrain from carrying on conversations with others at the barn, on your phone or via text messages. Give your veterinarian your full, undivided attention.
  • Provide a detailed history about your horse’s current concern, even committing it to paper (or email) prior to your appointment.
  • Learn the basic terms for parts of your horse’s anatomy and also how to collect vital signs so you have specific information to convey to your vet.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions or to offer up any relevant information you may have found through research. And, once you have provided this communication, be ready to listen.
  • Ask for treatment options if your vet has not provided you with several scenarios and/or a discussion of risks and benefits on how to address your horse’s problem.
  • Clarify instructions, and if you aren’t able to follow through those suggestions, say so. Many times recommendations can be modified to fit your schedule or needs and still achieve the same end.
  • If you are unhappy with the process or with anything your veterinarian has done, not done, or said, communicate the conflict to the vet rather than venting to your friends or other boarders at the barn. Give your veterinarian a chance to discuss the issue and make things right.
  • Come prepared to pay your bill at the time of service, or work out payment arrangements in advance of the appointment.
  • Finally, it is nice for your veterinarian to receive a periodic progress report from you so modifications can be made if the treatment plan isn’t working or to express how well the plan is working. Even a brief email or text to your vet maintains continuity in your horse’s care. This gives your horse the best chance at recovery and also provides your vet with information that may have relevance to treating future similar cases.