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After seeing so many "Help, What do I do?" threads and the quick, CALL A VET response, I'm just curious, what are your personal guidelines for calling a vet?

Before answering the question let's lay out a format for answering. Let's cover, where you keep your horse (such as at home or in a facility or at a friends house, etc.) then let's cover how love you've had horses and then we'll cover what types of things are vet calls. For instance, I'll start:

My horses are kept at my house. I have a barn with a stall for each horse, paddocks, and pasture turn out. I've owned Pistol (he was my first horse) for about 24 years now, he's 27.

Generally, if there is a scrape or a small cut I'll doctor it myself. If the horse is lame, depending on the amount of soreness and where it's located I'll play the wait and see game, with some hosing or soaking, whatever I feel is necessary and maybe a call to a friend, trainer, or a post on this board.

If it's a colic issue I will usually monitor and maybe banamine depending on which horse it is and what type of colic. I almost always place a call to the vet but may not always ask them to come out, depending on the issue. I will call a friend or post on the board. With Pistol it's an immediate visit from the vet.

If it's a fever I call the vet for opinion and then usually bute and watch then maybe post on this board.

etc. Now, the responses I receive from this board are always... call the vet:D so of course I've learned to put that in my original post! LOL....

Post away!
 

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farmpony - im pretty similar to you.

i own my property and while we have boarders, for my personal horses the above remains true. i will also stitch myself (i have lidocane and tranq and suture materials on hand) and tend to most minor - moderate wounds. anything with exposed ligaments or bone gets a vet call.

for my boarders im much more conservative. there's a section on the boarding agreement that asks if the horse is insured (in which case vet call is almost immed bc of rules of coverage and benefits), and when/why to call vet (i.e. if the horse is a surgical candidate, if surgery is never an option, and so on) so that we can work in the horse's best interest with the budget of the owner in mind within reason as well in the event of an emergency where we can't reach the owner.
 

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I've had horses for 25 years 11 of which has been on my own farm.

Things my vet wants to know about immediately......it starts with a phone call and we go from there......sometimes she comes right away and some times she wants me to monitor.

Colic, fever, high heart beat.

Other things I have called for right away are a smelly discharge from one nostril....ended up being a sinus infection.......for which antibiotics were used......it was all done over the phone.

I called for a very mild choke......it was decided she would come ........horse cleared it just prior to her arriving but glad to have the vet there as she had aspirated into her lungs and needed antibiotics.

Small cuts and bruises I deal with myself.

Lameness.......would depend on the severity and where is was located......I would at the very least drop her an email and let her know whats going on.

I asses each situation and go from their.......my instincts are usually pretty good.

Super Nova
 

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For the clients in their service area, the clinic provided a very wonderful laminated guide on when to call the vet. Complete with questions they will need answers to in order to determine the degree of emergency. And what to do or not do, until they get there.
 

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I've been around and worked with horses for almost 30 years. We've had our horses at our own farm for the last 12 years, and before that I worked at others' barns for several more years. Most minor stuff I handle myself, the basic knock-around, bite, kick, scratch, flesh wound type stuff is no biggie. Undetermined lameness gets a wait and see unless it's severe.

Colics get an immediate phone call, as does 3-legged lame, anything more severe-looking that I don't know how to treat right off the bat without having to research, and ANYTHING to do with eyes, as it takes zero time for an eye injury to get infected and potentially affect eyesight.

But my hubby is a paramedic, and I have worked with several vets, and assisted on quite a few emergency type calls, so I'd say we are able to handle more on our own than most average horse owners.

I say, when in doubt, call the vet. The call is free, and the info you get could be priceless.
 

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I have been taking care of my horses on my property for about a year, before that i always boarded. I love my vet and have her out more often than I should because I am still new at doing this all myself. I have had her out on 3 emergency calls and two she said she was glad I called her. The third was just for peace of mind. I have a neighbor that helps me too and she has been a great support since moving here.
 

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Agree with the OP...

I say, when in doubt, call the vet. The call is free, and the info you get could be priceless.
+1 My vet would rather talk on the phone for questions rather than get an emergency farm call in the middle of the night for something minor.

The key is to know what is minor issues.
 

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Agree with the OP...


+1 My vet would rather talk on the phone for questions rather than get a call in the middle of the night for something minor.

The key is to know what is minor issues.
oh i completely agree with this!
 

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Oh! I agree with Apachie on the eyes. I forgot the eyes. Yes, no playing with the eyes!

I also will call on a nose bleed if I'm not sure the cause. May just talk on the phone and may have them out depending.
 

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I have always boarded, but I am right along with you. If its a small cut or scrape I will self doctor. I got pretty good at that since my first horse was always low man on the totem pole no mater which herd he was in with.

Mystery lameness are also a wait and see. If its not better within a week or two I would call a vet, or if there is prolonged large amounts of heat or swelling, then I would call a vet. Thankfully I have never had any lameness last more than a week.

I have always been blessed with BOs that have their wits about them and know what they are doing when it comes to vets. They are usually the ones that have said if I need the vet or not, and I usually defer to them if I find myself in a situation that has me teetering on the edge of "Should I call the vet, or not"
 

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My trainer is also a paramedic and my horses are boarded at her place, so I let her make the call as to treat ourselves, wait and see or call the vet.

Minor bumps, scrapes, bruises, etc... don't need a Vet. Colic is a definite Vet call, fevers depends on which horse and if we know *why* the horse most likely has the fever and so on.

Lameness depends on where/why/how severe. When my mare came up dead lame on both front feet my trainer had the farrier drop by for an opinion before calling the Vet. Turned out she had bruised both feet, so no need to call the Vet, the Farrier handled it.
 

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I'm similar to most of you.

I've had horses for a grand total of 4 years, but have been working with them for 10. My two are boarded at a lady's house, currently 7 minutes away from work, and 18 from my house. In May, I will be moving closer. It's self care, I'm out twice every day.

I will handle most things myself; cuts, bumps, bruises, etc. When it's over my head, likely needs stitches, or involves something major [eyes, cuts/gashes that sever tendons, any bone showing] I will call my vet asap. Colic also terrifies me, so I would also call the vet for that.

Lameness I will play the wait and see game. Anything prolonged that is, again, over my head, I will call for opinions, see if he wants to come out.

Gracie recently got hives that the vet was called for. She was in tremendous pain, she needed prescription-strength help, Benadryl wasn't helping.

When Gracie's jowls were swollen, I had the vet out three times. She seemed totally fine, but it was too close to everything vital to go without attention.

Luckily, I have extensive resources as far as farriers who will come out for an opinion, and my vet knows me well enough and my girls well enough to give me advice without pressing he come out unless it's necessary, as a lot of vets will do.
 

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I call a vet when horse is in obvious strong pain or something is not right (and scary). Like when my paint reared and landed on post hitting herself BADLY right between the legs, she barely could move and showed no interest in anything (plus HUGE hematoma). I called the vet and he gave some cream to put on and bute I kept her on several days. I also called vet for abscess after trying to use itchamol (spell?) with no success, and she was very lame.

Scrapes, scratches, cuts, etc. (even ugly looking) I take care of myself.

BTW, if you have good relations with vet often just a call with the question is enough to help you deal with situation.
 

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I own my horse, but board him at a stable 20-30 minutes away from my house. The care there is exceptional and I know they would not hesitate to call me for anything. The owner and I have similar opinions on when veterinary care is needed and I trust her judgements. She knows all of the horses' normal routines, there is someone in the barn overnight and they consistently check the horses.

Things that I would call the vet for are large wounds, small wounds causing lameness, wounds over joints which appear to be leaking synovial fluid, wounds near important bits (eyes, etc..), elevated temperature, signs of infection, dramatically different vital signs, colic symptoms, prolonged healing of skin abrasions, prolonged and spreading fungal things (ie scratches) and anything else pertaining to general health of the horse, which I think is normal. I also keep a comprehensive vet kit at the barn so I can deal with most of these things in the interm until the vet arrives, including administering drugs (although I make the BO do IVs lol).

One thing which is a bit different for me is the lameness bit. I understand that to keep the horse going at a high level it is important to address any small kind of "off" as quickly as possible. I phone my vet at any time in which my horse is even slightly lame or "off". He trusts my judgement and often we do our soundness evaluations and flexion tests undersaddle because I can often feel things better than anyone can see them.
My horse also gets a soundness evaluation/flexion test at least twice a year, closer to three times and often we correlate the vet exams with farrier visits so they can talk about what is going on with the horse. It's hard to get him out at the same time as my massage therapist because she is on a barn rotation schedule and often has to postpone visits. But I talk to him about what she finds and we can usually attribute it to something and often remedy the problem.

It's really cool having a great team working together to keep the horse performing at 100%. I have an awesome vet, farrier and RMT and am so lucky to have a barn which supports me too!
 

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I'm with most of you, I generally will treat myself, I've had horses for 13 years and they have always been on my moms property, which is less then 5 minutes from my house...I've *knock on wood* haven't had a horse colic and have been very lucky with not having any major injuries. My horses are out side 24/7 with a barn in the pasture with one stall(currently no door on it tho) Both my mom, her friend Chrissy and I are all vet techs(small animal) Although my mom and I both run the kennel now, but Chrissy has access to antibiotics and medications if we need them and the formulary so we can do the dosage, I've also run blood work on them myself since any of us can draw blood and it's much cheaper to do it ourselves. Our vet is also a friend of Chrissys(before she was a vet she taught Chrissy how to ride) so if anything comes back abnormal she call her and most often we won't even need her to come out
 

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I have been around horses on my own family's property for 27 years and I don't call out the vet for anything less than catastrophic. Most your typical cuts, bumps, lameness, etc, etc, I can handle myself. Even some of the nasty ones. I know how to do stitches in an emergency, even though I prefer not to.

I pretty much follow the same plan as Apachie. Minor colic, the vet gets a phone call to let them know I have an issue, but I'm treating it and they will only hear from me again if something goes wrong. That gives them a heads up that they may have to make an emergency farm-call. Though it has been so many years since we had a bout of colic, I don't really worry about that one too much. Eyes, yep, don't screw around with that. Choke is another thing I don't wait for, that's also an immediate vet call.

If it's something that I am not entirely sure about and am not sure whether to call the vet or not, my first call is always to my Dad. He's been around very large numbers of horses for about 60 years so, if something does happen, odds are he's dealt with it or seen it at least once before.

We keep a bottle of Banamine and Penicillin in the fridge in the house, plus plenty of needles/syringes, I know how to give shots when the horse needs it (works much quicker than the paste or pills).

Pretty much the only thing our horses have seen a vet for in years is your basic care that a person cannot do for themselves; teeth floating, castrating, coggins, and Flash got to go to the vet this winter when he developed sudden diarrhea and began to drop weight quickly. Dobe got to go a few years ago to have some melanoma's removed, but that is pretty much the only vet calls we have.
 

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I board my horse with my trainer, and I have owned horses for 24 years, with a break in there for a period of years.

I would treat it myself, if I were unsure I would ask my trainer.

At my previous barn, I didn't trust the advise from people there, so if I didn't know what to do, I would call my vet and get advise over the phone or a call out depending on the situation.

For all leg and foot issues, I call my farrier first. I have an exceptional farrier.
 

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I tend to panic when anything goes wrong with my horse. My trainer serves as my ' faux vet ' she always has her phone, and I've called her hundreds of times asking weather something is normal or not ( these are more ' should i get the vet to check this out next time she's over' type of thing ).

I call the vet whenever I see lameness, blood, pain, or colic. If nothing else she answers my questions and guides me through a treatment if it isn't serious. Talking is free, and luckily for me she enjoys doing so! I have the vet out every 6 weeks or so anyways, so I save my many questions for when she comes if I don't get around to asking my trainer.
 

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I own a 62 acre boarding and training facility. I also went to school for equine science so I'm pretty familiar with most equine maladies.

I keep bute paste, banamine, ketoprofen, various eye ointments, dex and uniprim (anti-biotics) on hand. I also keep stain strips (to test eyes for ulcerations), hoof testers, thermometer ect.. on hand for testing before I call the vet. Basically the only time the vet comes out is to do teeth, coggins, stitches and xrays.

I call the vet for unexplained lameness' lasting longer than a week or so depending on the severity and how well it responds to anti-inflammatories, puncture wounds to the sole get an immediate call as well as it should be x-rayed. I call for choke that doesn't resolve with banamine after 6-8 hours or so. Swollen or half closed eye lids or cloudiness require immediate attention as well. Random nose bleeds or bloody mouths qualify a vet call.
 

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Abby's had the vet out 3 times. One for chiro because her hip was out and she'd throw a bucking fit if asked to lope. The second after a couple conversations on the phone about her sudden odd behaviour, which ended up being ulcers. Third...ended up being completely irrelevant. I came back from Christmas and she was lame with cuts all over her leg, but were scabbed over for the most part. I called the vet because Abby wouldn't let me come near it and her winter coat was so long it covered most of the wounds, so I couldn't look at them.

She ended up getting tranqed to have them looked at (she still offered a kick while drugged) and it was nothing. She was fine a few weeks later. The vet said rope burn, but I have no idea where she got a rope.. I dunno.

My BO worked with a vet for 6 years and does most things himself and I would talk to him first. He's also good friends with the vet we all use, who is a very very nice lady, so I could easily call either one of them to ask about something I had a concern about. The vet is also almost 2 hours away from us, so she will gladly give instructions over the phone if it will save her 4 hours of driving when she could be doing other things.
 
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