The Horse Owner – Veterinarian/Farrier/Chiropractor/Body Worker-Massager

The Horse Owner – Veterinarian/Farrier/Chiropractor/Body Worker-Massager

By Dr. Mike Guerini (

This is the fourth in a series of blogs on how we as owners interact with the different professionals in the horse world. Some of these interactions include:

Horse Owner – Horse Trainer

Rider – Riding Instructor

Rider – Clinician

Horse Owner – Veterinarian/Farrier/Chiropractor/Body Worker-Massager

Horse Owner – Stable/arena owner/manager

In the last blog, Dr. Mike from Dun Movin Ranch and Kimberly Bench ( discussed the Rider – Clinician relationship and things you can do to help this interaction be a success.  

The Horse Owner – Veterinarian/Farrier/Chiropractor/ Body Worker-Massager relationships is critical for the health and well-being of your horse.  Thirty or forty years ago, this relationship included the Veterinarian and Farrier with very few people using Equine chiropractic or Body Worker-Massage.  In recent times, the health care team for your horse has expanded to include chiropractors and body worker-massage practitioners yet the basics of the relationship remain the same.

1) Most important of all is that your horse needs to be prepared for treatment by these professionals.  As an owner, you either need to train your horse or have a trainer work with you and/or your horse to help your horse behave correctly for these professionals.  This is very important for the safety of your horse, your equine health care provider, and you.

So what is needed — your horse needs to be able to be caught easily, stand still (at least stand mostly still and quiet), be touched all over the body, and pick up his/her feet with ease.  These professionals are not hired to train your horse, they are employed to provide health care.  If your horse is difficult for you to handle, have a trainer or other qualified equine professional there to assist these people. 

2) Both the owner and the equine health care professional need to be respectful of each others time.  If either is going to be late, notify the other person.  If you need to change the appointment, do so as soon as possible.

3) Develop a relationship  — this goes both ways.  Understand what services the health care professional provides and what he/she is willing to do for you and your horse.  The health care providers also need to understand what the owner is seeking in a health care professional and if this is not something they want to provide, recommend another colleague for the job.

4) Respect the knowledge of the health care provider – but always ask for clarification.  As an owner, once you have selected a professional, trust him or her to do the job correctly but make sure you are satisfied with the answers and the continual care of your horse.  There may be a time that you do not understand or think what is being done is correct — immediately ask for more information because you as the owner, need to make informed decisions.If you decide the health care provider is no longer doing what is best for your horse, select another caregiver.   If you want a second opinion, tell the health care provider you will be seeking a second opinion and tell him/her why.  Often times, especially with lameness, it is a good idea to get a second look but be open about it with the health care provider.

5) Ask for an estimate of charges, anticipated outcomes, and approximation of time involved. Nothing ruins a relationship with your equine health care provider than surprises in the amount being charged.  Your health care provider should be able to give you an estimate on routine work and be pretty close to that estimate.  Often, you must ask for estimated costs, frequency of necessary treatments, and expected outcomes. Nothing is ever guaranteed in health care but anticipated outcomes can be discussed.  The amount of time to complete a treatment or achieve healing can be estimated but exceptions do occur.

6) Follow the treatment instructions.  If you are given a prescribed treatment, make sure you follow the instructions because this will help in keeping the treatment/healing process on time.

7) Know who your equine health care provider recommends in the event that he/she is out-of-town or unable to assist you.  Ask them who takes their calls when they are away and how best you can get ahold of the person who will provide temporary care.  This is important, especially for emergency medical situations.  You do not need to be surprised and have to pull out the yellow pages to find a veterinarian who will assist you.  Most often equine practitioners have their answering service refer you to another available veterinarian.

Thinking about these seven items can help you to build a successful relationship with your Veterinarian/Farrier/Chiropractor/Body Worker-Massager. 

As always, I look forward to your additions and comments on this essay.

Dr. Mike Guerini is a clinician, author of multiple Horsemanship books, co-inventor of the Equine Hydro-T and specializes in western performance based instruction and you can learn more about Dr. Mike and his 6 C’s of Horsemanship at Dun Movin Ranch is also home to the Equine Hydro-T (



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