The Horse

MAR 2019

The Horse:Your Guide To Equine Health Care provides monthly equine health care information to horse owners, breeders, veterinarians, barn/farm managers, trainer/riding instructors, and others involved in the hands-on care of the horse.

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18 March 2019 The Horse | patients. Others expect payment on the spot. Know your vet's policy. "I expect payment at the time of service," Borders says. "I do have a small percentage of clients, maybe 3%, who have an established credit record with me but, generally, to eliminate office work and ensure that I get paid, I don't bill clients." Similarly, First requires payment at the time of service. "It's just easier," she says. "It's just (me) and my husband, so we don't really have time to be bill collectors. We certainly have expenses as far as in- ventory and lab costs that we have to pay for immediately out of pocket, but since we are exclusively ambulatory and have several vehicles, we put a lot of wear and tear on our trucks, as well as go through a lot of fuel, so payments cover those. On an average day we put 150-200 miles on each vehicle—that adds up quickly! "For practices that have a clinic or haul-in facility, costs also include electric- ity, maintenance, and different types of insurance as well as stall shavings, hay and feed, and repairs for anything horses can break," she continues. "And, your vet may have employees who are expecting their paychecks for working those long hours, as well." It's also important to know what types of payment a practice accepts, especially if an emergency arises. Not everyone accepts checks or allows payment plans. Some accept CareCredit (health care financing), others don't. Still others of- fer discounted packages with advance payment. "We offer a wellness plan that includes routine services that every adult horse, no matter their age, needs for an entire year," says First. "It includes vaccinations, a Coggins test, a sheath cleaning, an oral exam and dental float, a lameness screen- ing, a physical exam, and a fecal. It comes in two visits, with the farm call included. And clients on the plan get 50% off one emergency call. "The plan provides a 15% discount on the cost of those (routine) services individually, and the client can pay it all up front or (monthly). It gives clients a little insurance, especially from the emer- gency standpoint, and it also allows us to develop a relationship with the patient because we're going to see him twice a year. It makes it affordable and allows owners to do what's best for their horse. Even if your clinic doesn't offer it now, they might consider implementing a plan like this if they get enough requests." 10 Respect your veterinarian's time. While the veterinarian is examining your horse, silence cell phone alerts and resist the urge to text or take photos, par- ticularly if you're responsible for restrain- ing the horse. Also understand that veterinarians have families and personal lives outside of work. Keep after-hours calls to emer- gencies only. "Most equine vets are accessible," says First. "Our clients have our personal cell phone numbers, and we text back and forth. Most equine vets are on call 24/7 because for whatever reason, horses like to need us in the middle of the night." First says one of her biggest com- plaints is clients not respecting her time and calling or texting after hours for nonemergency situations such as dental exams and vaccines. "Even when clients text us thinking, 'It's only a text; they'll see it later,' it's still a distraction and some- times wakes us up at night," she says. "For those things, e-mail works great or simply calling during business hours to schedule." On the other hand, she urges owners to not use portals such as e-mail or Face- book messenger for emergencies. "Please call, and most importantly, leave a mes- sage," First says. "It comes down to common courtesy and respect: There are some hours that you just don't contact people unless it's a true emergency," she says. "And when it is an emergency, it's always better to call when you initially think there's a problem than to wait. Waiting can only put the horse in further jeopardy. Plus, when we see something early, treatment is often less expensive." And it's during emergencies, when the adrenaline is pumping and your emotions are on overload, that you'll be especially glad you've prepared in advance and established a good relationship with your veterinarian. If you've followed the advice offered here, your vet will be able to trust your judgment and provide that extra, above-and-beyond treatment that's so ap- preciated during such stressful times. h IT'S YOUR CALL

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