New App Offers Horse Owners Equine Health Information “Horse Side”

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Sept. 2, 2013 -- In today’s economy, it’s even more important to make good decisions about the care of our horses. The more you know about horse health, the better. But where do we draw the line between making our own decisions on our horses’ health and soliciting the advice of a veterinarian?

This is where Horse Side Vet Guide (HSVG) comes in. Horse Side Vet Guide is a brand new app for iPhone users (Android versions will be released soon) that is designed to help caretakers of horses (and other equines) make better health care decisions for their horses.

Importantly, HSVG is observation-based. It is all about what you actually see, not what you assume you see. It is about making you the best observer you can be, and then guiding you as to what to do once you have made those observations.

The app is powered by an extensive and ever-growing knowledge base on everything from common problems to rare diseases: lists of observations, skills, how-to videos, veterinary diagnostics, diagnoses, treatments, and so much more- available to you “Horse-Side.” 

 “As we all know, the downturn in the economy and contraction of the horse industry, combined with drought conditions and the cost of hay, have placed great strains on many of us,” said Doug Thal, DVM, Dipl. ABVP, a lifelong horseman, veterinarian and creator of Horse Side Vet Guide. “Horse ownership and veterinary care have become increasingly expensive and there is no relief in sight.”

“Understandably, horse owners are turning to the Internet more and more for information about horse health, sometimes instead of calling the veterinarian,” said Thal. “Sometimes this works, and sometimes it doesn’t. Too often, this approach results in a delayed diagnosis and ultimately increased cost to the horse owner.

“It occurred to me that there might be a way to educate my clients via a smart phone application that provides credible equine health information “Horse-Side”–-literally while standing in the stall and looking at your horse,” Thal continued.

Horse Side Vet Guide was made with the horse owner in mind.

Here is what HSVG can do for you:

Assist In any situation in which you notice a problem with a horse, you can input the words that describe your perception of the problem. HSVG shows you relevant observations, provides a summary of the observation, and lists what other observations to look for. It tells the user how concerned they should be, the factors that determine how urgent the situation is, what to do until the veterinarian arrives, and much, much more. Starting with your observation, HSVG gets you oriented and educated.

Educate HSVG provides an ability to explore the world of equine healthcare from an aerial perspective: You can browse any of the database tables for concise descriptions of hundreds of: Horse Owner Observations, Vet Diagnostics, Vet Diagnoses, Vet Treatments, Horse Owner Skills, or Horse Owner Supplies. Again, HSVG’s unique relational structure allows you to see the big picture--how one thing relates to another--like no other resource ever developed.

Develop Skills HSVG can teach you, your students and staff how to become competent partners in the health care of the horse. Users will always have access to 114 carefully selected skills on their phones. This is done through the use of short, concise descriptions, photos, diagrams and videos. There are 20 high-quality “Quick Reference” videos, dozens of anatomical drawings, and the whole database itself is resident on the phone without an Internet connection.

Improved Communications HSVG improves communication between users and their local veterinarian. The “My Vets” feature puts important vet contact information at your fingertips and encourages the dialog.

Customize You can customize the content by using the “notes” feature, in which you can attach your own personalized notes to any individual record within the database. This allows you to customize the database with information from other sources, especially content provided by veterinarians and other reliable sources.

Share You can quickly and easily share (through e-mail, Twitter and Facebook) a topic from within HSVG.

Quick Reference This features 20 high-quality videos demonstrating key examination and treatment skills. Also included is a group of anatomical drawings created especially for horse owners and equine professionals. These images were created by Thal, then a professional artist cleaned them up and formatted them.

Quiz Take the quiz to get a sense of what you know. In the future there will be more quizzes.

Horse Side Vet Guide is not structured as a simple decision tree that takes you down a singular path based on your input. It is not a substitute for your local equine veterinarian. It does not, and cannot, anticipate and address all of the subtle variations and unique circumstances associated with your horse’s health. That is your veterinarian's job.

Horse Side Vet Guide is intended to increase the quality of communication between you and your equine veterinarian for the benefit of your horse.

To download the application for iPhone or for further information, please visit https://itunes.apple.com/app/id663353024 or www.horsesidevetguide.com. Follow us at www.facebook.com/horsesidevetguide and http://twitter.com/horsesidevet.

Doug Thal, DVM, Dipl. ABVP, has been a horseman his entire life. His father was a steeplechase rider and polo player. He grew up on a family cattle and horse ranch and has been riding and training horses since early childhood. He has been an equine veterinarian for over 20 years working on a mix of performance and pleasure horses. His special interests are lameness and surgery. Thal is board certified in Eqine Practice by the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners. He continues to manage his equine veterinary practice, Thal Equine, in Santa Fe, New Mexico. You can see more about his veterinary practice at www.thalequine.com.