The horse world is funny. Everyone knows everyone and we all seem to do our best to be pleasant and say nothing if we can’t speak nicely. Unless it’s really bad, of course. In those circumstances, it almost feels as though we all hear about it at the same time, and shake our heads all together. The downfall to this system, I’ve found, is you don’t really find out about someone being just unhappy with a service until you bring up being unhappy yourself.
So it began with my barn’s vets. I had perfectly neutral feelings towards them at first, and to put everything on the table, I never felt like their basic care was lacking. It started with double charges for services and was agitated by difficulty getting anyone to answer questions or forward on tests results. It finished when I mentioned my troubles to a few people and was told enough to make me confident in my nagging suspicion that I needed to go somewhere else this year.
Because, don’t forget, this is the year that I’m hoping to breed Star. With that sort of thing, you have to be really, really confident about who you’re working with. I wasn’t, so back in October I started making calls and sending emails. I asked people I trusted for their opinions and recommendations.
Along the way I came across Dr. Matt Allessory DVM. I shot him a message through his web contact, outlining my desire to find a vet and specifically to help me get my mare bred. Given the typical response, or rather lack of response I was getting in my quest, I was fairly shocked to get an email back the next day from the vet himself. He answered every question I asked, but also asked if we could speak over the phone.
I called, got voicemail and left a message. Again completely opposed to my recent issues, I received a callback within an hour. We chatted for over forty minutes about what I needed and how I wanted to go about getting it. It happened to be over speakerphone while I was driving. My husband and daughter was in the car for the entire conversation, and my husband admitted that–despite having no real knowledge of horse vets–Dr. Matt seemed to be someone that I’d work well with.
Flash-forward to now. Dr. Matt handles quite a few of my barn’s horses. I’d heard good things, which was nice, but I’d not gotten to do the in-person meet myself.
The time had come for all of Star’s work. In one fell swoop, we dealt with everything from her reproductive soundness exam to her basic shots. Dr. Matt is close to my age, and he’s as eager to teach as I am to learn. When we got to teeth I got a full education, as well as a bit of vindication. I’ve been unhappy with Star’s teeth since I bought her. Everyone has more or less shrugged at my concerns. Dr. Matt looked at her mouth and was extremely unhappy with what he saw. Three days later, and I’ve noticed a difference in the way Star eats. Since eating seems to be the vast majority of her life, I have to say I’m pleased.
Of course we have a long way to go, but there’s nothing quite as lovely as having a plan in place with the confidence that it can move forward. It makes me annoyed that I waited as long to look for someone new. So here I am, I guess, trying to make amends by asking the question to all of you: Are you happy with your vet? Could you be happier? We will rarely stay with a hairdresser that does a subpar job, but there’s something about casting off medical professionals that gives everyone pause.
At the end of the day, our health is worth more than our hair. My animals certainly are worth more to me than my hair. So now I have a new vet, Star has a new mouth, and hopefully–together–we’ll help bring a new little horse into the world.
Christine Sharpe is a Canadian who grew up riding Hunter/Jumper in the Southern USA. Now living in Toronto, she is a thirty-something who is back to riding after taking four years off and having her first child. In 2017, Christine is planing to breed her Thoroughbred jumper mare, Star, and buy her first home on land. She struggles daily to juggle family, work, and her equine lifestyle, with occasional success.