I think that equine vets are truly amazing. They are a human version of ‘Google’, have so much knowledge and are doing their absolute best to help horses and owners. They work extremely long hours, and do plenty of ‘unseen’ work like returning phone calls and paperwork after a day of examining and treating horses. It’s a risky job, classed by a report in 2012 as having the highest injury risk for a civilian job. It’s not always the most glamorous profession either, and our poor vets are frequently covered in dirt, slobber, partially digested food and let’s even mention the rest!
As well as dodging flying hooves and coping with needle shy horses the equine vet has to deal with a difficult breed of human- the horse owner; and us horse owners can be a bit trying for vets at times. Just for fun I asked our vets to see what they would love horse owners to do (and not do). So here are 8 things that equine vets wish owners would do
1. Have the horse ready
Out of the ten or so vets I spoke to the number one grievance was the horse not being ready for the vet appointment. As owners we want cost effective appointments and many practices operate a ‘zone day’ where by certain geographical areas don’t have a call out fee on a set day a week. This is generally for routine work that is booked in advance. Understandably this does mean that the appointment slots of each vet need to be kept to time, so when an owner sees the vet arrive and then says I’ll just go and catch the horse I can imagine that the poor vet’s heart sinks somewhat.
2. Be able to trot a horse up properly
Lameness workups can be difficult to perform in a yard, where the facilities and space for examining a horse aren’t always ideal. When owners can’t get their horse to trot in a straight line away, towards and past the vet this does make life harder. Your vet would certainly appreciate you having a practice run of trotting your horse up, and do make sure you have some brakes so use a bridle or cavesson to avoid ‘water skiing’ across the yard with your horse.
3. Not apply hoof oil before a lameness workup or a vetting
As owners we love a product, and we love making our horses look lovely. It’s not that your vet doesn’t appreciate the effort, but it does make it hard to assess and examine the hoof if it is covered in oil/ hoof stain.
4. Not being on the phone while holding your horse
I know I’ve seen the social media updates.. ‘vet’s here’ / ‘got the vet out’ , with a quick selfie picture. When your vet is trying to examine your horse, or perform routine work such as vaccinations or dentistry work they would love it if you could focus on holding your horse. This will make it safer for everyone, and allow your vet to do a better job. Save the photos and updates for when your vet has finished.
5. Appreciate that turmeric (or any other supplement) is not a substitute for all other veterinary treatment and medication
Each of the vets I asked (and remember I promised not to name them!) said that they wished that owners would appreciate that a supplement (of any nature) isn’t a magic cure all, and doesn’t replace vets and medication. Supplements have a place as part of a ‘well horse care plan’, but do your homework as many products lack any empirical research behind the marketing claims.
6. Remember that vets are quite happy to have a chat on the phone
Vets want to help, and they would much rather that you picked up the phone with any concerns than left a cut, a slightly swollen eye, or your horse just not being quite right. With modern smart phones it has never been easier for your vet to try and help from a distance, and this is much better than a ‘wait and see’ approach.
7. Tell your vet if your horse doesn’t like needles
Again vets are kind and patient, but it’s only fair to warn them what to expect with your horse, especially if you have a new or different vet. If your horse doesn’t like needles then do let them know. Needle shy horses can be really dangerous, and letting your vet know will allow them to come up with a safer strategy and a better outcome for your horse.
8. Remember that vets are human
Many of the vets that I work with are horse owners as well, and they really do ‘get it’. Vets, just like the rest of us, have good days and better days, get tired and forget things. They remain professional (of course), but don’t think that they don’t get as upset as us at times.
There is so much that we can do to help our vets out, and remembering your vaccination dates and booking these in good time would be another way to help.