While asking fellow horse owners recently what they love most about their equine veterinarians, nearly every response began with, "Oh I love my vet. She's the best!" It sounded like every single veterinarian must be the best vet in the world.

I appreciate a vet who is open to complementary therapies, even if the science behind it is scarce.

Photo: Alexandra Beckstett

We all choose and prefer our vets for different reasons: The past two practitioners that have treated my horses started as a matter of convenience because they also treated the bulk of the horses where I board. After meeting and working with them, however, I decided they were pretty awesome and, hence, each one became "my vet."

The first of these two veterinarians, who treated several of my horses while I've lived in Lexington, recently accepted a great position at a clinic in New York, and so we parted ways. But these are a few things I really appreciated or that were unique to her:

  • She helped organize the quarantine efforts of all incoming horses for the 2010 World Equestrian Games.
  • She is well-respected by peers and colleagues much her senior, and some pretty prestigious practitioners have complimented her diagnostic skills.
  • She is open to pursuing alternative therapies and completed an acupuncture course to further her skills.
  • At the same time, she's not afraid to look me in the eye and admit that we have no idea how things like acupuncture work!
  • She is honest about procedure costs and outcomes and a few times convinced me to take the conservative time-off approach for injury healing rather than pursuing pricy--albeit speedier--treatments.
  • She takes notes of all her observations and exam findings on her ipad as she works and emails them to me immediately so I have my own electronic vet record.

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It's never easy transitioning to a new vet, especially if you weren't in the market for one. This past year working with my current veterinarian, however, has been a great experience. We've spent more time together than I'd like, due to Hannah's hind-limb lameness therapy, but it's made me realize a completely different set of qualities that I really like about this individual:

  • When I can't be present for a lameness exam or a routine check-up, she texts or calls me immediately after to fill me in.
  • Being a sport horse owner and competitor herself, she has great tips for rehabbing and riding horses coming back from various conditions.
  • She consults with her colleagues and other specialists about tough cases or areas outside her comfort zone, like repro and podiatry. I say the more minds the better!
  • During a farm call to see another horse at the barn, she took the time to watch Hannah being ridden, just to see how "sound Hannah" moved and looked.
  • Her vet techs and students are well-equipped with treats to reward equine patients for their tolerance post-procedure or exam.
  • She's a good sport when I arrive for appointments wielding a camera and an iPhone to document procedures and collect stock material for The Horse.

Now that I know we all have the best vets in the world (Okay, so I'm sure there are some horror stories out there too), I'd like to hear some of your horse doc love: Why do you love your vet?