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Choosing the right vet

Where do you start your search for a good vet? Only after successfully qualifying can a veterinary surgeon be registered to practise as a Member of the Royal College of Veterinary surgeons (MRCVS) – always ensure your vet uses these letters after his/her name.

If you are in any doubt about your vet’s qualifications or if you would like to find out where your nearest ‘Equine specialist’ vet is located, you can contact the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons who have specialist listings. For moreinformation (tel: 0207 222 2001)

Word of mouth

Before you make any decisions about which practice to register with, spend some time talking to other local horse owners about their vets. Depending on the size of your yard there may be several vets from different practices who visit, or in smaller, more isolated yards, there will probably be just the one.

If it’s the latter, you may need to travel to other local yards to find out more about other vets in your area.

When you are talking to other horse owners, ask them some of the following questions:

  • How long have they been with this vet?

  • Are they happy with the service provided?

  • How does he/she compare to other vets they may have used in the past?

  • Have they ever been let down by their vet?

  • What do they consider their vet’s strengths and weaknesses to be?

    A good vet should possess the following qualities:

  • Excellent communication skills One of the most troubling things about a sick or lame horse is that it can’t tell you what’s wrong.

    It is therefore vitally important that your vet is able to communicate his/her findings to you in such a way that you understand exactly what the problem is. It’s no use him/her reeling off a list of technical terms that may as well be a foreign language to you. Your vet should be able to explain clearly a) what they think the problem is, b) how it may have been caused, and c) how it should now be treated.

    A good way to check whether your vet has got this information across to you is to imagine someone else asking you the same questions and seeing if you can answer.

    Another area of communication your vet should be responsible for is keeping you informed ofany changes to their schedule.

    If an emergency comes up, it’s only right that your vet should attend it immediately, but if as a consequence that means they will be running 90 minutes late, you should be told as soon as possible.

  • A friendly, approachable and efficient demeanour. If you’re having to cope with a horse in pain or distress, the last thing you’ll want to deal with is a grumpy or hostile vet. As well as handling the physical problems your horse may be having, your vet should at the same time be able to reassure and calm you.

    He/she should also be efficient when it comes to filling out insurance forms, and be happy to explain and break down any bills you receive.

  • An honest and open-minded approach

    It takes a good vet to keep an open mind about what a problem might be and then to admit it if he/she isn’t sure exactly what is wrong.

    Pride should never prevent a vet from asking the advice of a colleague or specialist in that field if it serves you, the client, better.

    It is also worth considering how amenable your vet would be to you seeking the advice of a reputable alternative therapist – and how comfortable they’d feel working with them in order to ensure your horse is getting all-round care.

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