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Getting Up to Speed on Routine Care


Getting Up to Speed
on Routine Care
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. It's a cliche, but one that bears repeating, especially when it comes to horses. When these large animals get sick, it's no fun for them or their owners. Taking good care of your horse to keep her healthy is your most important task as an owner.
In this summary, we tell you how to help your veterinarian work to keep your horse in good health. You also discover the best living situations for your horse, as well as how to groom, care for hooves, and keep parasites at bay.
 Working with Your vet
 to Ensure Good Care
Next to you, your horse's greatest ally is her veterinarian. He or she is the one to monitor your horse's condition if a problem arises, and is there to administer treatment if your horse needs it. Your horse's vet relies on you to keep a close watch over your horse's health, make appointments when necessary for evaluation and diagnosis, and comply with treatmen after it's prescribed. In the following sections, we explain how to select a great vet for your horse , pay for the vet's care without breaking the bank, and get an all-important annual exam    for your horse.      
Decisions, decisions: Choosing a vet
Finding a good horse vet is important. Just like human doctors, veterinarians come in different packages. Some have great bedside manner, some are great diagnosticians. Some are simply better doctors than others. It's up to you to find the professional you most want to work with. Although your horse may be healthy right now, don't wait until something goes wrong before you go looking for a vet. An emergency isn't the time to start interviewing potential doctors - especially if the problem strikes in the middle of the night.
Ask for referrals
If at all possible, work only with a veterinarian who has a special interest in equine care. Equine veterinarians have chosen to work exclusively with horses , and are specially trained to diagnose and treat equine illnesses.  At the very least, if you can't find a veterinarian in your area who deals only with equines, make sure that the vet you choose has at least moderate experience with horses. In order to locate a good horse vet, you need to do a little research. The most important way to find out who the best horse vets are in your area is through other horse owners. Ask people who have horses which vets they prefer and why. Ask questions about why they like these particular doctors. Do they have goodbedside manner? Do they have an area of special interest, such as lameness or dentistry? Find out the doctors' strong points and narrow your search down to one or two who appeal to you. In addition to asking other horse owners for opinions, talk to trainers, breeders, and farriers. Anyone in the horse business in your area should have opinions about the best vets in town.
 lnterview the vet
After you have a veterinarian's name or two, get on the phone and start asking questions.  Find out how long he or she has been practicing; whether he or she has any areas of special interest - and what they are; and what he or she charges for routine procedures, farm visits, and emergency calls. After you make contact with the vet , don't be afraid to ask about training and credentials, especially if you're seeking a vet trained in acupuncture and chiropractic, or any other type of alternative medicine.
If it's time for your horse to get vaccinations or have other preventative care performed, make an appointment with the vet to have those things done so that you can see how he or she handles your horse - and you - while also getting in your interview. schedule a wellness exam so that you can meet the vet while also getting your horse a professional once-over.  When talking to the veterinarian, be sure to ask what he or she does for emer- gencies. Some vets are on call 24/7 and you can always reach them, even in the middle of the night. Other vets refer emergencies to another veterinarian, or to an equine hospital. Make sure that the vet's emergency policies are to your liking.
Make a decision
Ultimately, the vet you choose to be your horse's medical care professional should be someone you're comfortable with. This person should have good bedside manner and should be able and willing to explain complex situations to you in easy-to-understand terms. The vet should also show a strong interest in your horse's well-being, as well as your horse's behavior and training, and your personal goals with the horse. The vet should also be accessible day and night, either directly or through an answering or referral service. No matter how impressive a vet's credentials, it's more important that the person really cares about you and your horse. A vet who truly cares refers your horse to a specialist when necessary, goes the distance to find answers to difficult problems, and constantly seeks knowledge and further training to improve his or her services to you and your horse.



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