One of the most important acts of love you will ever perform for your horse is choosing the right vet. A horse veterinarian will specialize in the care and treatment of your best friend. He or she will be there to help your horse through difficult times, as well as everyday horse maintenance. Take your time choosing a veterinarian that is a good fit for you and your horse. Whatever you do, DO NOT wait until your horse is sick or injured to form a relationship with your horse veterinarian. In an emergency your horse will be under a lot of stress. If you are anything like me, so will you. The stress will be considerably lessened if you are already comfortable with your horse caregiver.
What to Look For in a Veterinarian
- Look for an experienced horse veterinarian. You want someone who has been taking care of horses on a regular basis. This will help to ensure that your vet is comfortable with the common health issues that horses deal with. It will also make it more likely that unusual symptoms will not be beyond the level of expertise.
- Ask about availability. When choosing a veterinarian, it is important to know that they will be available when you need them. Regular checkups are easy to schedule but an emergency probably won’t happen at the most opportune time. Will your vet be available when you need help? If not, who will be covering for them? You should know what to expect when the unexpected happens.
- Check out the beliefs of your potential vet. Choosing the right vet involves selecting someone you can work well with. Having similar beliefs in the care and treatment of animals will be helpful. If you believe strongly in a homeopathic approach to care, you will want a vet who shares those ideas. If you lean toward traditional health care for your horse, you will want a more traditional vet.
- Consider the cost of care but don’t let your wallet rule your decision. While there are veterinarians that charge less for their services, be sure to seek quality care. If you look for cut rate service, the quality of care may also be diminished. I understand that cost matters. Owning a horse is an expensive prospect, but caring for your animal properly will save you money in the long run.
- Watch how the horse veterinarian relates to your horses. Much like you need a good rapport with your health care provider, so does your horse. You want a vet who makes your animal comfortable in their presence. If the level of comfort is not there the horse will suffer.
- Find a vet that relates well to you. You need someone who will give you a clear understanding of what your horse needs. If you have selected the right vet, you will work well together to assure a healthy horse.
- Look for a vet with connections. A quality vet will be willing to reach out to other specialists when they are presented with a challenge. No one knows everything about any animal, so being confident enough to ask for assistance and guidance when needed is a good sign.
- Is the prospective vet willing to travel to you or do you have to transport your horse to another site for veterinary care? Your personal situation will dictate how important this is to you. For me, I want a vet that will come to my horse when he is sick. Not everyone agrees, so examine your feelings and choose accordingly.
In the end, you need to rely on your gut when choosing the right vet for your animals. You know your horses and you know yourself. Find a veterinarian that fits with your thoughts and beliefs, and remember that you can change your mind. At times, you may have to see someone in action to recognize the validity of your choice. If, after further consideration, you are not happy with your selection, don’t be afraid to make another choice. Your horses depend on you to take good care of them. You owe them that care and all the love you have. Now, go hug your horse one more time today.