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How to Be Prepared for Farm Calls

How to Be Prepared for Farm Calls
10 steps toward more positive experiences during farm calls and emergencies
Have you ever waited for your horse’s veterinarian for what seemed like an eternity past the appointment time, your frustration building by the minute? Have you ever had trouble getting any vet out in an emergency, much less your own, or ever swallowed—hard—when you learned the cost for the services performed? Have you ever considered what can you do to avoid these scenarios or alleviate or even eliminate these negative feelings?
It might behoove you to put yourself in your practitioners’ shoes for a moment. Veterinarians don’t start each day planning how they can get under your skin. They want to give you and your horses the best service they possibly can. They’ve gone through years of specialized schooling and training to ensure they can do just that. And they’ve taken an oath to use their knowledge and skills for the benefit of society, to promote equine health and welfare, to relieve animal suffering, to protect public and environmental health, and to advance comparative medical knowledge.
So what’s your part in the process? We asked two mobile equine veterinarians — Danny Borders, DVM, of Borders Equine Clinic, in Middleton, Idaho, and Brittany First, DVM, of First Equine Veterinary Services, in Mobile, Alabama—how clients can prepare both themselves and their horses for veterinary visits. Read on to learn 10 ways you can help your veterinarian maximize time, cut costs, and ensure you get the service you want—and, perhaps, go the extra mile when you need it most.
1. Establish a relationship with your veterinarian—before you face an emergency.
“That relationship is so important, especially when it comes to emergency services,” says First, who shares her practice with her husband, Patrick First, DVM. “Some practices may not accept nonclient emergencies, or if they do, their fees may be higher than for an established patient.
“From the veterinarian’s viewpoint, it can be a safety issue,” she adds. “There have been instances where veterinarians have been called out for false calls and have been robbed for money or ­medications. Especially if a client is new to the area, just having a wellness exam done—not only for horses but for other livestock and pets—to establish that ­relationship helps both the vet and the client feel more familiar and at ease.”
2. Tell them what you need.
When you call for an appointment, tell your veterinarian (or the office staff) how many horses you’d like them to see and what services each horse needs.
“It’s very, very common to be told that we’re going to see a specific horse with a specific issue, and we allot a specific amount of time for that issue—how long it might take us to perform the service needed and whether that includes ­diagnostics—and then find that they need additional services or that a barnmate has a horse that needs something, as well,” says First. “Of course we want to address all this, but it can put us behind schedule and, especially in the equine world, emergencies also come up.”
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