NW Horse Source: The Changing World of Veterinary Care

Appreciate Your Equine Veterinarian

My beloved veterinarian of 28 years recently informed me she was giving up her equine veterinary practice and transitioning to small animal care. I’m devastated, but not surprised. Vets are dropping like flies in the equine industry, and those who are staying in it are setting firm boundaries around their time and raising prices. Especially in remote areas like mine, it’s hard to find a veterinarian to come out to your farm in the case of an emergency. Maybe even impossible. And if you do find one, expect to pay dearly for their service.

I’ve been a client of this vet since she was fresh out of school and consider her a friend. I truly care about her and appreciate all she’s done for my horses, and I want her to be healthy and happy in her life and work. But, losing her is almost enough to make me throw in the towel too. The horse industry is changing, fast.

Many sole practitioner equine veterinarians are struggling. The industry has changed significantly over the past several years, challenging them professionally and personally. I mean, think about it—those vets like mine, who are completely ambulatory (mobile), have an almost impossible job. They’re on the phone, texting, emailing, setting up appointments, billing, and doing their books. All that takes up time they don’t charge for. They’re driving all over—and we know how frustrating and expensive that can be—out in all kinds of inclement weather, dealing with (sometimes) naughty horses in (sometimes) inadequate facilities. They also need to purchase expensive drugs and equipment and put many miles on a vehicle. Or, they can join a small animal clinic and have office hours, receptionists, weekends off, and make significantly more money.

I will need to find another veterinarian, of course, though I worry I won’t be able to find one as capable, caring, and generous as my last one. But that is part of the problem too. We horse people rely heavily on our vets, our farriers, and even our trainers and boarding barn staff/owners. We need to step up and realize what others are going through. Respect their time, value their service, and pay your bills on time. Oh, and say thank you!

See this article in the March/April NW Horse Source 2023 online edition


Photo by Aliena Hook

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