A) The vet, B) the body worker, C) the chiropractor or D) Ghostbusters. (Hint: The answer is not D.) Liz Bernard helps you decide.From Liz:
Just like most serious human athletes, an elite equine athlete does best when there is a whole team of folks working to maintain its health and wellness, as well as doing what they can to optimize performance. Those team members include a veterinarian, farrier, equine dentist, chiropractor, massage therapist and/or body worker along with the trainers, owners and grooms.
But what about our equine weekend warriors and the horses that, while they compete, aren’t at the upper echelon of the horse world? The horses whose owner, rider, trainer and groom is typically one and the same person. You know–the horses us Average Joes have. For horse owners whose pocket books are not particularly well padded, how do we optimize the use of our funds?
It is kind of a pain to call the vet out only to have them refer you on to the horse body worker or chiropractor. After you pay the vet and the body worker, the amount you spent is close to double or even more what you would be out if you had just called the body worker or chiropractor first.
There are some hopefully obvious times when you would call your vet instead of a body worker, massage therapist or chiropractor out to work on your horse. If he’s bleeding. If he is three-legged lame. If he shows signs of colic.
Of course if we had an appointment that day, you would call me to let me know. Personally, I would rather someone gave me a heads-up so I have a chance to re-tool my day. Instead of leaving the appointment stand only to tell me once I get there, you know, when I’m looking at your horse and realizing that this is far beyond my scope of practice. In which case, I’m going to give you a look (and yes it will be “that look”) and tell you to get the vet out here.
Really, I’m a pretty normal human in that I tend a little towards being lazy. Anything that can make my life simpler is welcomed. Because I travel to my clients, if I can save a trip, I appreciate it. That doesn’t mean don’t call me if it’s warranted. I just mean, if there is something going on with the horse that will make it so I can’t/won’t/shouldn’t work on him, please do me the courtesy of telling me. Before I get to your place. Because you like me and you want to have a good professional relationship with me.
Aside from the three examples I gave of times when you should really call the vet, now, other times you will call the vet instead of me:
- When your horse is consistently off/lame. In this case, get clearance from the vet for me to work with him first. He may not be really off, but maybe he has that noticeable kind of limp where you know you are not imagining it. Here’s the thing: I love to work with the vets. I never want to work against them or instead of them. Really, I won’t–it is outside my scope of practice. Plus, if your horse has a diagnosis and is cleared for the work that I do, my life just got a ton simpler. Until I go to vet school and get those three extra letters after my name–DVM–I do not diagnose any conditions. Additionally, if I know what the diagnosis is, the techniques that I use can be tailored to help the horse as much as possible and ensure that what I do is not interfering with his healing process.
- When there is the possibility or suspicion of an infectious, contagious or other type of disease causing listlessness, in-coordination, fever, etc. Again, diagnosis is outside of my realm. Plus, if there is the possibility of contagiousness, my own horses and those of any clients I may have after you that day will really appreciate it if I can avoid the whole scene. Not that I can’t disinfect and change attire. It’s just a courtesy we all appreciate.
- This one’s a little offbeat, but check with your gut feeling–your intuition–and ask yourself if whatever is happening with your horse’s performance is something that I can help with? Or is it something for a vet to look over first? In some cases, it may be less expensive to have me come out, give you my opinion that it’s beyond my scope and advise you to call your vet. Sometimes stiffness is just stiffness because of muscle soreness; sometimes stiffness is there because the horse is guarding a deeper issue. However, if it’s potentially a bigger issue than just being stiff from soreness, do you really want to delay figuring out what’s going on?
The bottom line here is this… if in doubt, call your vet. Once it is diagnosed, have me come do what I can for your horse.
Now, go ride and enjoy your horse!
Bio: Like many here, I was always a horse-crazy kid. After receiving my Bachelors of Science in Equine Science, I started training horses. At some point it occurred to me that there were ways to make a living that were easier on my body. So I changed careers and became a Licensed Massage Therapist and Equinology Equine Body Worker. I love what I do. Growing up riding in the Pacific Northwest I was spoiled with indoor arenas. Now living in the high desert of Northern Nevada where covered arenas are as sparse as the trees, I find I’m a fair weather rider. When I do ride, I dabble with Reined Cow Horses. For more info, please visit my website www.lizbarnard.massagetherapy.