Her horse may or may not agree, but if you ask Caitrin O’Shea, taking a horse to the vet is way less frustrating to taking yourself to the doctor. Even though in theory it should be the other way around.
I have a confession. I hate going to the doctor. I know a lot of people hate going to the doctor, but usually it has something to do with fear. I’m not afraid of my doctor–she seems really nice. I just wish going to the doctor was a little bit more like going to the vet.
I’m an eventing rider, so I’m no stranger to pain. If I fall off a horse, I’m not going to go running to the ER– I’m going to get back on and finish my ride! So when I finally decide a pain is troublesome enough to call the doctor, I expect results, not a run around.
The set up to this story is I tweaked my knee out polka dancing last December (don’t look at me like that–polka dancing is awesome). When I called in December, the nurse told me R.I.C.E: rest, ice, compression, elevation. It still hurts. So here I am, three months later, finally saying, “OK. Time to go see the doctor.”
So, here’s how I see the differences between my doctor and my vet:
1.) I have to tell the doctor what is wrong with me. I’m not a doctor, so I don’t know what’s wrong. You’re the doctor, you tell me. When my horse is acting funny, my vet figures out what the hell is going on, going to great lengths, up to and occasionally including ultrasound, MRI, and designer drugs.
2.) I am not in a lot of pain. On the frowny face scale, I’m maybe a 4. On the Hyperbole and a Half pain scale, I’m only a 1. Nonetheless, it is a very inconvenient pain. My knee clicks when I go up stairs, and it freaks me out, so I walk up the stairs awkwardly to avoid the click, which is now making my OTHER knee sore! It also clicks when I post the trot, but I ignore that, because I’m not going to stop riding even for a day for the sake of this wussy knee injury. When an injury is not life changing, the advice is to take two ibuprofen and call her in a month. But I want to make this injury to actually be dealt with! In order to be my best, I must be sound! If I tell my vet, “I don’t know what is wrong, but something is wrong,” we will find it and we will fix it!
3.) I’m in my mid 20s–that means I’m like an 8-year-old horse who is fully trained in its sport of choice (eventing, for me). It’s time to inject my hocks! Get me on a maintenance program of Adequan! At least tell me to throw some glucosamine in my oats! My vet would never say to a sore hock, “Oh, give it some bute and wait a month. We’ll see how it looks then.”
4.) Doctors seem very afraid of alternative medicine. I asked a doctor once about chiropractic and he basically said it was just a bunch of voodoo. Given how much acupuncture, massage, and chiropractic help the most elite equine athletes, why are we still thinking its a bunch of phooey for people? Horses don’t understand the placebo effect!
5.) Of course, to give my doctor some credit, she did assign me to some Physical Therapy to strengthen that knee, and I will try really hard to follow the therapist’s advice, but if they say “No riding in the jumping length stirrups” or worse “No riding” that would be really tough for me to listen to! When a vet says “3 months stall rest, then hand walking, then light riding, etc…” I follow it to the letter of the law!! It is hard sometimes to treat ourselves as well as we treat our horses, isn’t it?
6.) My vet bills are going to give me ulcers, sending me back to see the doctor. (Unless GastroGuard will do the trick??)