Thursday, October 18, 2007

The cost of being short sighted

Many times, the true cost of being short sighted does not register with us, until after such time has passed that we can see our previous choices with 20/20 vision. Our lives are punctuated with decisions made hastily and without much conscious thought, from split second choices behind the wheel of a vehicle, to impulse purchases, to whatever thing you do sans serious forethought.

The Alaska horse community is no exception to this, and it's a foolish owner who practises such folly. Or worse yet, knows the risks and chooses to do so regardless of consequence.

This can be as obvious as deciding it's too hot and too much work to stock up on hay when it's harvest time, to deciding not to check the stock tank heater this one time, or not using the proper equipment to handle a horse, or even leaving the barn without checking all gates. On the whole, none of these might be particularly risky at first glance, but they can have fairly severe consequences for the horse(s) in your care, should something go awry.

It's short sightedness when your feelings are more important than your horses' wellbeing. I have met many people who chose one vet over another, vowing they won't use anyone else. Usually this is based upon a diagnosis or result that didn't turn out as expected, or simple heresay from someone they like and admire. Or sometimes, personality conflicts that magnify during a time of crisis.

For a practical person such as myself, this veterinary choice is a mine field littered with rumors, accusations, and innuendoes to such a degree that I cannot discern the truth, mistruth, or verity of the information imparted with such emotion. Everything is always learned second or third hand at minimum, and always its even further distorted at every retelling. I try as hard as I can to be a good horse owner, and so my management practises show the result.....I seldom have need of additional veterinary help-but when I do, you can be assured it is a true emergency. I pay attention to details, carefully balance the diet, and I strive to learn, learn, learn about any and all facets of horse stewarship.

But others won't budge from their stubborn position, even if it puts their horse at risk. If a vet has a call out that goes wrong, you can be sure the blame will be laid at the vets' feet, not the owners. They will vehemently state that they will never call ________ again, no matter what! This is truly a short sighted position to take. What happens when they have a subsequent emergency and another vet cannot respond? Well, they don't think that through to a logical conclusion because their own feelings/ego is more important than their horse, of course.

I am sometimes ridiculed by friends for my veterinary choice, but their opinions do not sway me. I make it based solely on what is best for my horse. I consider what each professional is the most capable and successful at handling, and go from there. I also base my choices in part, on fees charged, as any reasonable person would do.

And this is where the real schism for some lies-aside from personalities. Why is a procedure (just quoted to me yesterday by a very reliable source) quoted at well over $3000, when another can do the same for one third the amount? Where is the benefit in paying more, besides to the practise itself? Is paying more a badge of worth, or an example of being short sighted?


Lori said...

Aah, the value of a good vet, worth their weight in gold? Well, yes, when your horse is down and you know only one of the few are are going to make a barn call!
It's best to set aside personalities when there is less vets in your area then fingers on half your hand.

I expect a vet to be factual about my horses condition even if it errors on the negative least I can be prepared. Cost? I guess thats something you have to swallow if it means getting the best person for the job (and facility).
Most vets risk their lives dealing with poorly trained horses, unprepared owners, and nasty conditions (being it weather or the living situation of the animal). How do you figure the value on that?

I believe Farriers are subject to some of the same. I actually heard a horse owner tell his farrier that it was the farriers job to train the horse to stand to be shod/trimmed.
Think he would be saying that to his vet when his horse is bleeding all over the place?

suvalley said...

Yes, best person for the job, as you say, is critically important.

Sometimes, however, you have to accept the ONLY person for the job.

That was my point-we may all need whatever vet is available the fastest during an emergency. Sometimes (such as a colic for example) even a few hours delay can be a death sentence.

Each of our local vets have areas where they seem to be especially talented and tend to get superior results. I keep this in mind when chosing which number to call, as I will want who is best for my horse, regardless of other considerations.