And you need to have a vet, before you NEED a vet.
It happens pretty often that someone asks me what I would do in a given health care situation. I’m always happy to share my experience, but my answer nearly always boils down to: “I would call my vet and ask.”
My vet is a huge part of the health and management of my horses. They’re part of the team, not just someone that I call on in an emergency, and I highly recommend that if you have horses, you need a relationship with a veterinarian.
Finding a Vet
If you are brand new to Miniature Horses, start by asking other Miniature Horse owners in your area who they use for veterinary care. It’s a great bonus if you are able to find a vet who already has a familiarity with Miniature Horses specifically, but failing that, ask horse owners in general who they recommend as an equine veterinarian.
Ask about after hours and emergency availability – do they have a vet on call 24 hours for emergencies? If not, do they recommend another clinic in those situations? I suggest you have that information, at least, before you ever bring your horses home.
There is a lot of value to being loyal to a veterinary clinic. If they do all your routine work, they’ll have all your records easily accessible, they’ll already have payment information on file, they’ll have more information to be able to help you with issues that come up, and they’ll have a relationship with YOU as well.
When bad things happen – and when you have horses, bad thing ARE going to happen, sooner or later! – having that relationship already in place makes such a difference.
And even if you do have to refer to another clinic for emergency or surgical care, your veterinarian will still be kept in the loop, to continue to have all the information on your horse and be able to support their care into the future.
There are very likely to be financial benefits to you as well, as a vet clinic recognizes the value of a loyal client like any other business.
Schedule a routine appointment as soon as possible with your chosen clinic. Vaccines, or teeth, or a wellness exam, something to allow you to get to know the vet, and the vet to get to know you and your horses. The value to this appointment goes far beyond the obvious – it’s your chance to see the vet interact with your horses, to show the vet that your horses are well behaved (or working hard on their manners). It gives you a chance to discuss basic management and feeding with your vet, and see if there are any concerns they see. It’s the start of the relationship, and if something doesn’t click for either party, it gives you a chance to find another vet to build a relationship with long before you need them on an emergency basis.
When you have a relationship with a vet, when they know your horses, when they know that you’re going to pay your bill and follow instructions and be an active member of your horse’s health care team, then when you have a concern you can probably give them a call and consult over the phone to decide if you need an appointment. You can get a prescription refilled without having to have a new exam every single time as you might if you were “clinic hopping”. Most importantly, you can work together to keep your horses healthy and happy.
It’s so reassuring to me, when I call in on emergency and the receptionist asks me which horse, and I know that not only is she immediately pulling up years worth of medical records for the vet, but that the vet already knows that horse too.
I worked for an equine veterinary practice for 17 years. I saw how personally veterinarians take the tough cases, how hard they fight for your horse, constantly reading textbooks and consulting with colleagues near and far. I saw them deal with the difficult people too, the ones who blame them when things don’t go well, the ones who won’t pay their bills, the ones who think they’re in it for the money (that’s bananas – do you have any idea the overhead involved in running a vet clinic?! Or that they stay up half the night on a regular basis?!), and the ones who are just plain mean people.
Did you know that people who work in the veterinary professions have one of the highest rates of suicide? Be kind to your vet and their staff, and remember that they have to deal with a dozen other appointments on the day you see them, and odds are some of them were heartbreaking, or frustrating, or exhausting.
Train your horse to keep your vet safe. Pay your bill on time, or talk to the clinic and work out a payment plan. Be ready and on time for your appointment.
You Need A Vet
If you have horses, you need a vet, and it’s going to be better for everyone – you, your vet, and especially your horses – if you develop and maintain a relationship with that vet. Hopefully, that just means an annual appointment for teeth and vaccines and a check up, but with that in place, you’ll have a much better experience when the inevitable health concerns pop up along the way.
If you’re looking for a vet, and happen to be in my neck of the woods, then I wholeheartedly recommend the team at Burwash Equine Services. They are a critical part of the health and wellness of my herd, and I’m so grateful to have them on my team!