Awhile back I had an appointment at a barn to take a Coggins test on a mare. Prior arrangements had been made with the owner for us to meet during the noon hour. It was a beautiful fall day, and I was enjoying Cumberland County as I drove toward the farm. I pulled up the driveway at 12:15, grabbed a needle and blood tube, and walked to the barn. There was no one there, four legged or two. I walked over to the house. A few knocks on the door and a hollered “hello” brought no response. I was just wondering if I had the wrong day when the door opened.
“Oh, its you, Doc! Be just a minute.” He began lacing his Bean boots slowly up to the top. “The mare is running out at pasture. Don’t worry, she’s easy to catch. She’s probably standing right by the gate.” A few minutes the boots were laced up. Right to the top. He hadn’t missed an eyelet.
We walked to the pasture gate. No mare. Five minutes later we found her at the far end of the pasture by the wood line. I hung back so that he could catch her without my spooking her. He almost did too, four or five times. We tried cornering her once or twice and almost got her, once or twice. After ten minutes of back and forth the mare’s owner decided that she might respond to some grain. Back to the barn he went. I sat down on a rock and tried to recapture my earlier, happy mood. The mare got curious, came over and stuck out her nose toward me. I managed to snag her halter. I had the blood drawn by the time that my client returned.
“Had some trouble with the grain bag, Doc, but I see you caught her all right. It’s like I said, she’s never hard to catch if you can just get close enough.” Nearly an hour after my arrival I climbed back into my truck with my one blood sample. If I kept you waiting that day, I’m sorry. Now you know the reason.
It was about a month later that I made a visit to a large but rather unorganized barn. It was late afternoon and my last stop after a long day. The appointment was to vaccinate two horses. I noticed a bunch of kids standing around. Once I was in the barn the stable owner, Ann, sprung her trap: “I just thought that while you were here you wouldn’t mind floating two others and doing a lameness exam. I’ve invited my 4H group to watch you work, and I told them you probably wouldn’t mind giving a little talk.” This is the kind of news that drives vets from large animal practice. I like to leave a barn knowing I’ve addressed all the health problems, but it’s a huge help knowing how much work is ahead of you before you arrive.
The reason behind this is not only your vet’s sanity, but there is usually someone else down the road who is waiting that your vet has given an ETA to. I’m sure there isn’t a horse owner alive who hasn’t been kept waiting for the vet to arrive. It seems like every day brings at least one emergency call, and these, of course must be taken care of while the scheduled work waits. Most people understand this and appreciate the fact that when they have an emergency, they will get help right away. The problem comes from those who are inconsiderate of everyone’s time.
So, this article is a plea. I may not be your vet, but I’m sure that whoever is would second my request. When arranging a visit, give your vet a list of what needs to be done so they can budget that time. Have your animals in the barn and be available yourself. This kind of respect for a veterinarian’s time will repay itself in their respect for you.
-David A. Jefferson, DVM