As a paying customer, it is only right that you should expect good service from your vet. However, there are ways that you can capitalise on his/her capabilities by being a good client!
Don’t be afraid to phone for advice if you’re not sure whether or not a call out to your horse is justified. A good vet will be happy to discuss the situation over the phone and then dispense the relevant advice.
If you’d like your vet to come out and see you for a “non-emergency”, always call early in the day to give yourself a better chance of being fitted into his/her appointments schedule. It’s not fair on the vet or his receptionist to call at 3pm and expect a visit that same day.
Before your vet arrives, try to have a clearidea in your own mind of the history of your horse’s illness or lameness so as to be able to offer as many clues as possible when discussing the situation. For example, when did you first notice any heat or swelling; what kind of work had the horse beendoing previously; had he been stabled or turned out.
Don’t leave routine appointments, such as vaccinations, to the last minute. If you are organised about it, you’ll probably be able to share a call out fee with other people on the yard,and get the date and time that’s convenient to both you and your vet.
Be aware that your vet won’t always be able to come up with instantaneous answers to the problems your horse may have. Putting a name to a problem immediately may satisfy you as an owner, but if the vet is jumping to conclusions just to pacify you, he/she may not be doing the best by your horse.
Not surprisingly, most vets don’t relish the idea of being called out in the middle of the night, especially ifit turns out to be a non-emergency, so try to think rationally before you summon him/her, and be prepared to talk through the situation on the phone in order to establish whether the call-out is necessary.
You won’t be jeopardising your horse’s welfare because, if there’s any doubt, a good vet would rather be called out unnecessarily than miss a call and lose a horse as a result.
Big practice V small practice
Another decision that you may have to make when choosing a vet is whether or not to go for a large practice or a one-man operation.
If you decide to go for a reputable big practice, you may benefit from them having ‘specialists’ in various areas.
Facilities may also be superior to a smaller practice, and theadministration side of things, like appointments and billing, will probably be more efficient – with several vets on call, your waiting time should be cut down.
On the down side, you might not like the idea of having to deal with different vets coming out to see your horse each time, resulting in you having to repeat details of your horse’s history and background several times over.
If your choice of vet operates as a smaller one man/woman operation, it will probably be easier for you (and your horse) to build a relationship with him or her – you will get a more ‘personal’ service.
Your vet will come to know the two of you, which can be a big help when discussing problems over the telephone or knowing which course of action to take when there are several alternative options.
However, the disadvantage of a small practice comes when emergencies happen – you may find yourself still hanging around at the yard at 9pm, even though your appointment was at 3.30pm.