Having spent 2 couple of days in the vet ring at Payne’s Find, my head is full of “from the vet’s point of view” stuff.. This may become a couple of blog posts if it gets too long.
First things first: what you DON’T get to do.
1. Your horse DOES NOT GET TO BITE THE VET! There is NO excuse for a horse managing to bite a vet/volunteer since you have hold of the horse’s head. You should be focused enough to stop any attempt, not chatting to your strapper/the scribe/ the person in the next vet lane. DON’T assume that because your horse is normally trustworthy, he or she will remain that way in the atmosphere of the vet ring, or after 12/25/50 miles. Nice horses get cranky when I have to poke them for the third or fourth time that day. If the horse does manage to get hold of me, the ONLY appropriate response is “OMG I’m so sorry”. Not “He’s never done that before, what did you do?” or even worse “Oh haha yeah he’s always like that” (Both of which I have actually had said to me).
2. Controlling the hind end of the horse is a little more tricky and if your horse has never previously been a kicker I will forgive you if he manages to get a cow kick in unexpectedly. HOWEVER, if he has EVER tried to kick the vet before, please tell me! Then I won’t walk round the back of your horse, I’ll duck under his neck instead. You can control some of what happens to the hind end: if it starts to swing around/get agitated/get grumpy, turn the horse’s head TOWARDS me. That way, the back end swings away from me, not into me. Same goes for the poor TPR steward.
3. The vet ring is NOT the place or time to start training your horse. I have other horses to look at. Please, let’s work out a way to get what needs to be done, done, in the minimum amount of time and with the minimum amount of fuss. This may mean that your horse is “getting away with it” at the time… If you really feel there is a training issue there which needs to be worked on IN THE VET RING, then ask if you can come back later, when the ring is quiet, and I will be happy to help. Some things, like temperature taking, can work perfectly at home, but the horse will not allow it in the vet ring. I’ll be happy to work with you on it, but we’ll have to pick our moment.
4. Don’t talk to me when I have my stethoscope in my ears… Sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised! I get very focused when I’m listening to heart sounds and gut sounds. I DON’T want to be 2/3 of the way through a 60 second count and have to start again.
5. DON’T try and tell me what I am seeing. Don’t tell me “oh he always has a funky gait” or “his skin recoil is always bad”.. I can see that from comments previously written in his book, should I want to. I will take the whole horse into account when making my final decision on whether he is “fit to continue” or not. You trying to tell me that the dodgy steps I am seeing is “normal” for your horse is not going to make any difference to my final decision, believe me! If I am in any doubt, I am going to ask another vet/the head vet. NOT, with all due respect, you. One of the reasons I am still vetting in endurance is that no one argues with the vet. I gave up doing eventing vetting a long time ago as I got so disillusioned with the attitude of some competitors, and with being overruled by the ground jury! I LOVE vetting endurance rides, but that could change.
6. DON’T be rude to the stewards and nice to me. I hate bullies. Believe me, I will have heard you….
Ooh, that was all quite negative. I will be back in the next couple of days with some “Dos” for you…