Tuesdays with Tony
This week I am going to take you all back to elementary school when you all learn about teamwork. You learn about it at a young age and it ends up playing a role throughout your life. Who knew when your teachers were talking to you about the importance of teamwork that years later you would be reading a blog, written by a cat, about the same thing? I’m a cat, cats don’t do teamwork. However, as you all know, I have put together one of the best teams around to take care of your horse and they really thrive on teamwork. This is why it is so important that my doctors work as a team with your farrier, your trainer and any other professional you have working with your horse to provide top notch care and achieve results based on a common goal.
You’ve heard the saying “no hoof, no horse”. Your horse’s hoof care is imperative to his wellbeing. Farriers play such an important role in your horse’s soundness. From proper trims to specialty shoeing, they can really make a huge difference in a horse’s movement and performance. Having a farrier and veterinarian who are willing to work together towards a common goal will allow for any problems or issues with your horse to be addressed quickly, efficiently, and effectively.
If you’ve ever had a lameness exam performed on your horse, you know that the docs always start by looking at your horse’s hooves. They will pick them up, test them for soreness with this big metal clamp thing, and they will look at the angles and shape of the hoof. Once the lameness exam is complete, they may even perform nerve blocks in which they inject anesthetic around nerves. This causes anything below the nerve to go numb, just like Novocain for a dental procedure. With the nerve blocks, the docs can determine if the problem stems from your horse’s feet or is further up his leg.
If the lameness is from the hoof, it can usually be resolved with proper shoeing. Diagnostic imaging, such as radiographs, will likely be suggested. These can show the docs and your farrier the angle of your horse’s coffin bone within his foot along with his hoof/pastern angle. Changes to trimming and shoeing can be made based on your horse’s lameness exam and radiographic images. This is why it is essential that your veterinarian and farrier work together. Your farrier is extremely knowledgeable about all things horse feet, and your veterinarian is extremely knowledgeable about all things horse feet and lameness. Therefore, putting both their brains together to address you horse’s issue will certainly help resolve it quickly. Take it from this cat, have a farrier who is willing to work with your veterinarian. It will save you a lot of time, money, and heartache in the long run.
Beyond lameness, it is super helpful when you have a farrier who is willing to work with your veterinarian in the event of an injury or illness. One incidence in particular I can think of is laminitis. A quick diagnosis and corrective shoeing can be the difference between life and death when it comes to laminitis. Excuse me while I get on my soap box for a minute, but I feel it is necessary. Find yourself a farrier who knows his/her limits and is willing to say, I don’t know or I’m not comfortable with that. That farrier is worth his/her weight in gold and could be life saving for your horse. Having a farrier who is humble enough to admit this will allow my docs to employ a farrier with the appropriate skills to apply corrective shoeing. As you all know, my docs love to educate, so if your farrier isn’t comfortable with what your horse needs, my docs will be happy to teach them. If your farrier doesn’t tell us that he isn’t comfortable with performing what your horse needs, my docs won’t know that he/she needs direction. This could be disastrous for your horse. Ok, soap box over now.
Your trainer is a wealth of information. They know horses and they know your horse. They can tell when a horse isn’t performing his best. Having a trainer who is quick to notice when something is amiss is priceless. No one knows your horse better than you, but your trainer can provide you with an outsider’s perspective. They can be present to communicate with your veterinarian when you may not be able to be there.
In my experience trainers are a wealth of information, some good and some, well, not so good. Having a trainer who is willing to listen and learn is invaluable. I’ve been present when some trainers come through the clinic, and I can’t help but shake my head at their old school ways. I know you all have read my numerous blogs on colic, but when a trainer comes through saying they’ve been walking a colic for the last 4 hours and it still isn’t better, I can’t help but face-paw. I know you know not to do that but sometimes trainers are a little late to get the new info.
On the other hand, trainers are really amazing at picking up when your horse is mildly colicky and they are usually very comfortable in administering medications. That being said, a trainer who is open to listening to your veterinarian, learning new things, and making changes to their daily routine for the better of your horse, is irreplaceable. Just like with your farrier, my docs are ready, willing, and able to educate them so they can provide the horses under their care with the best and most up-to-date veterinary care. In doing so, my docs are able to help you and your horse stay in tip top condition all while preventing any unforeseen issues down the road. As horse people who have worked with trainers for years, my docs know just how important it is to have a trainer who is willing to be a part of your horse’s care team.
Other professionals, including, but not limited to your veterinary dentist, equine massage therapist, equine transportation team, and grooms/stable hands are all part of your horse’s team. While my docs provide a wide array of veterinary care including dentistry, lameness, acupuncture, and spinal manipulation, they have informed me that not everyone is as blessed to have a team that provides it all. This means you may have to have a different person out for all the different treatments your horse needs. Having professionals who are a part of your horse’s team who are also willing to communicate with all the other professionals in your horse’s life is going to make your life and your horse’s life run that much smoother.
On occasion, there may even be more than one veterinarian involved in your horse’s care, so having two veterinarians who communicate effectively about your horse is incredibly important so that nothing gets missed. Two heads are better than one, right? Well, sometimes, but not always. In my opinion, stick with one veterinarian or one veterinary clinic where all of your horse’s records will be kept. That way you won’t run into issues like missing or duplicate vaccinations, expired coggins the day before a show, or incomplete medical records. It can get very confusing and frustrating for everyone involved when there are too many chefs in the kitchen. Find a veterinarian or clinic you are comfortable with and stick with them. Veterinarians are not like underwear; you do not need to change them every day. As for all the other professionals in your horse’s life, just like your farrier and your trainer, find those who are openminded, want to learn more, want to communicate with each other and your veterinarian and want to be a part of your horse’s team.
Remember: teamwork makes the dream work!
Until next week,
P.S. The humans are always busy working on podcasts. Stroll on over to the podcast page here and listen to what they have to say. I know I always find something new to listen to. And make sure you subscribe to my blog before you go. You can do that by scrolling down just a bit further to the purple box.
Tuesdays with Tony is the official blog of Tony the Clinic Cat at Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic in Newberry, Florida. If you liked this blog, please subscribe below, and share it with your friends on social media! For more information, please call us at (352) 472-1620, visit our website at SpringhillEquine.com, or follow us on Facebook!