Every day, farriers and veterinarians, critical members of your horse care team, witness horse owners doing and saying things that make their job more exasperating, difficult, confusing and even dangerous at times. So, we contacted four professionals from across the country to share some of their major pet peeves and concerns. It’s not only a way for them to vent a little, but also to help you become the best client possible.
We start with Breanne Konrad, owner/operator of B Equine in Alberta. Breanne is certified with the American Farriery Association and the Farrier International Testing System.
1. Cancellations create chaos
“My biggest pet peeve is last-minute cancellations. Farrier schedules are usually organized eight weeks in advance. Cancellations and appointment changes can be difficult to accommodate without enough notice.”
2. Respect down time
“It’s exhausting when clients assume they can reach you 24/7. Many farriers become burnt out as a result of the long work hours and job stress. Farriers don’t feel like they’re ever off the clock when clients bombard their phone at all hours of the day or night.”
3. Get your ducks horses in a row
“It’s frustrating when horses aren’t ready before the farrier arrives. The horses should be caught, tied, cleaned up and hooves picked out, so they are standing, ready to start at the appointment time. Farrier schedules usually run on tight timelines and putting the farrier off schedule by even a few minutes can compound into hours by the end of the day.”
4. Do your homework
“Keep up on hoof care between visits. Hooves should be picked out regularly, any needed treatments should be continued/applied and required supplements should be fed. The farrier only sees the horse every six weeks and needs the owner to take an active role to ensure the hooves stay healthy and managed.”
5. Stress safe practices
“Some clients don’t prioritize the farrier’s safety. They forget that farriers are not super-human and a single injury could end their career.”
Rachel Gedaliya, a barefoot trimmer and equine body worker who practices out of Kelowna, B.C., has a few further suggestions.
6. Communication is caring
“I want the horse owner to show up to a trim session, not just the caregiver, because that tells me they’re committed to the wellness of the horse. They care about what I have to say about their horse’s feet and they ask questions. If we’re all clear, then we can get the job done well, and in a manner where everybody is safe and happy.”
7. Stay the duration
“It doesn’t work if suddenly by the second foot, you say to your farrier, ‘Oh, by the way, in 10 minutes
I have to go.’ The horse feels the pressure and starts to jitter and I don’t like to be rushed. I obviously want to take my time and do the work properly. And I don’t feel it’s safe for farriers, or any professional for that matter, to be alone with a horse. In a flip of a moment they get scared and you’re on the floor unconscious.”
8. Who let the dogs out?
“I don’t like having dogs around. Especially at new appointments when I don’t know the horse or how it will react to a dog hovering. I’m talking from experience. I had a horse flip on a dog because it was too close, and I was in the middle of it. Also, sometimes the dogs are so close I don’t know if I’m going to poke them in the eye with my tools. Let me do the job. Then, when everybody is safe, let the dogs come, have fun and eat those hoof bits.”
Dr. Cindy Lukianchuk has a unique perspective, as both an equine veterinarian and farrier. Dr. Lukianchuk is co-founder of Alloy Equine, serving Saskatchewan and western Manitoba.
9. Bare feet are best
“Putting hoof varnishes on before I arrive to improve the appearance of the hoof actually makes my job more challenging. The oils make hands and tools slippery and cause dirt to stick everywhere.”
10. Logistical niceties
“Having a dry, flat well-lit area [in which to work] is a dream come true.”
11. Teamwork makes the dream work
“As a vet, farrier, owner and trainer, my biggest pet peeve is that all of us in the equine world try to pick one product to fix all, or one professional to cure or diagnose. We all forget that everyone has unique roles in terms of the health of our horse and that a team approach is more effective. If you don’t have a team working on your horse’s health care, it’s because neither owner, trainer, medical professional, alternative medical professional, farrier, nutritionist, etc. have been willing to become a team. We all need to be open minded and patient.”
12. Broaden perspectives
“Clients should understand, there isn’t a medication to cure all, and not every condition can be drastically changed by medications. There are several ways to treat and manage certain symptoms and conditions and just because one vet, friend or other professional suggests different ones, it doesn’t necessarily mean the initial suggestion is wrong or inferior.”
Dr. Damita Hansen is an associate veterinarian with Cornwallis Veterinarians of Kentville, Nova Scotia. The bulk of her clients are horse owners. She has several points from the vet’s perspective.
13. Don’t just say no
“My job is to give my medical opinion. It won’t change if that opinion is inconvenient for you, if cousin Frank who had horses all his life disagrees or if the big show is in two weeks and the horse needs to be sound by then. Vets are more than willing to help the client develop a plan that will work, but be the person who comes up with possible solutions, not just the person who says no.”
14. Loyalty counts
“Develop a relationship with a vet. When you buy a new horse, let us know. If you move, get the vet to come out to develop a relationship before there’s an emergency. Be loyal – don’t use one clinic for vaccines, one for teeth, one for emergencies and switch it all up next year. The clients I always put to the top of my list are those who I have a good working relationship with.”
15. Call me … not maybe
“Call early! Calling doesn’t mean necessarily that you have to have a visit, but a vet can advise if you are treating the animal correctly yourself and at what point a visit may be required. The most frustrating calls are folks who call at 11:00 p.m. because their horse has been colicking since 2:00 p.m., but now they want it seen.”
16. Nobody’s out to get ya
“I think sometimes clients believe we’re a salesman, thinking ‘They have a budget of $500. I’m going to increase the bill, so they’re paying $500 no matter what.’ The reality couldn’t be further from the truth. There’s literally a limitless number of tests or therapies we could do, but knowing my client’s budget allows me to best allocate the money they have available into a plan with the best chance of success.”
17. It’s a living
“Don’t guilt trip your veterinarian because you cannot afford to care for your horse. No veterinarian is in it for the money; we all became vets because we love animals. While we would love to do our jobs for free, we need to make a living.
If I worked for free as much as I was asked, the clinic would be bankrupt within a month. It’s so hard on the soul to constantly say no. Please don’t ask us to choose between putting food on our family’s table and helping your animal.”
18. Just chill
“The difficult cases that really stick with you are ones where people aren’t happy with something, usually the bill, and they call you and/or the office staff and yell until someone cries. Those are the ones that honestly make you afraid to suggest procedures to the next client because you’re worried that person may fly off the handle too. If you’re angry, take a day or two to talk yourself down. Please don’t call and scream at anyone on the phone.”
19. A little goes a long way
“The best above-and-beyond thing clients do is send me thank you texts. You wouldn’t believe how much it makes my whole week to get a text with some great news that the patient is doing better.”
20. Primo parking
“Leave us the parking spot most convenient to the barn door – we have stuff to carry in! Making your vet park far away and lug everything all the way across the property is a good way to put your vet in a bad mood. I always appreciate the gesture when folks leave me the best parking spot.”