Horses require routine examinations and vaccinations, not to mention emergency care in case any medical issues arise, so it’s important to always register your animal with a local equine veterinarian. Whether you’ve just purchased your first horse, relocated, or are simply looking for a replacement vet, you’ll want to make the best choice for your animal. A quick search online will usually reveal numerous local vets and it isn’t always obvious which one is right for you.
Here’s a few factors you should bear in mind, when choosing a vet for your horse:
- Location - this is especially important with equine vets as they tend to come to you, rather than you visiting their practice. In an emergency situation, you’ll want your vet on site as soon as possible.
- Experience - find out how much experience the vet has, including their educational background and qualifications. Check whether they’ve had experience with your particular type of equine, especially if you have a less common animal such as a miniature horse.
- Associations - check which professional associations they’re a member of, and do some research into any associations you don’t recognize.
- Availability - are they available for emergencies, late nights, weekends? No vet can promise 24/7 support, but a good veterinarian should make themselves as available as possible. Take the time to find out who steps in when your vet isn’t available, and do some research into their qualifications and experience. In the worst case scenario of an emergency arising and your regular vet being unavailable, you don’t need the additional stress of dealing with a complete stranger.
- Areas covered - what services and procedures do they offer? Routine examinations? How about surgery and specialist procedures? Choose a vet who offers the services that are important to you.
- Philosophy - ask the vet about their approach to treatment. Do they prefer gentle and coaxing, or a more forceful approach? More importantly, do you agree with their philosophy on how treatment should be administered?
- Recommendations - ask fellow horse owners for their opinion, and consider speaking to trainers and barn managers as these people are also likely to be familiar with local vets. This can be a quick and effective way to get a feel for a local vet, but bear in mind that you and your contacts may have a completely different idea of what makes a “good” vet.
- Price - check the cost of procedures, especially routine vaccinations and examinations that you’ll need to budget for every year. Securing the “best” vet in the area is no good if you can’t afford to call them out! It’s also worth checking whether the vet accepts payment plans so you can budget for medical expenses.
- Trial run - once you’ve found a vet who seems promising, it’s worth having them perform a routine examination, rather than waiting until your animal requires actual treatment. Pay careful attention to how they handle your horse, and how thorough they are. Of course you’ll have to pay for this examination, but it’s the best way to ensure the vet is right for you and your animal.