This weekend I learned why I am best suited to my supervisory role here at the clinic. I monitored while Dr. Lacher worked closely with a farrier to determine the best treatment for a horse with a bunch of issues in her feet. I marveled at the way in which they worked as a team, batted around each other’s ideas, and came up with solutions that addressed all the issues. It was like watching TV in a foreign language. As a cat, I am not a team player. Heck, Teannie and I can barely get along. Turns out you need a team to manage your horse. High performance, senior, or just for fun. All horses seem to require a team. Not cats. We only require staff that will jump at our every request. I feel I have trained my minions well.
Anyway, Teamwork. Turns out teamwork is very important for performance horses. There is often a trainer, owner, veterinarian, and farrier at the very least. Trainers and owners need to feel comfortable talking to their veterinarian and farrier about how the horse is performing. It may be something as minor as a lift of the head in a transition one way, but not the other. Based on a trainer’s description of the problem, our Dr. Lacher will put her detective hat on and start investigating. Dr. Lacher uses her 30+ years of horse experience alongside her veterinary knowledge to help track down the source of pain. (We won’t tell her I talked about her 30+ years)
Treatment and rehab come next on the list. Again, teamwork is critical. I really don’t understand why there has to be all this teamwork. I would just impose my will; no questions allowed. Veterinarians today have a wide variety of therapies available. Joint injections with steroids are the most common treatment used. Problem is, those steroids come with some side effects. Hocks handle those side effects well, and can be repeatedly injected. However, every other joint doesn’t. Every steroid injection takes a little tiny bit off the end of a horse’s career. This means careful discussion with everyone involved to determine if injections will help the horse get better faster and cause less damage than the injury they have. Maybe some of the new, crazy advanced therapies like stem cells and platelet rich plasma should be used instead. Maybe rest and targeted exercises should be used. All of that has to be talked about and factored in. With all this talking, I’m going to need more nap time. And more food.
One of the biggest collaborations happens between our Docs and farriers. With the utterly ridiculous design horses have for feet, they need constant attention. Lots of horses need special shoeing to keep those feet comfortable or to help them heal from an injury. Our Docs use radiographs (x-rays) to help farriers line up their shoes perfectly. There is also a whole lot of discussion that goes on about what the Docs have found out from their exam and what the farriers think. There’s always tons of communication going on. I try to make sure I am nearby to assist with this process.
It can be a challenge to determine the best, right thing for these crazy horses sometimes. Making sure you have a winning team sure makes it easier. Until next week.