When a horse has a foot problem that involves both the farrier and the veterinarian, the owner, and possibly a trainer and/or an insurance agent, communications can get more than complicated. They can snarl into a convoluted tangle of terminology and "he said, she said" that leaves everyone unhappy, including the horse.

At the Bluegrass Laminitis Symposium, held Jan. 25-28 in Louisville, Ky., Amy Rucker, DVM, of Midwest Equine in Columbia, Mo., discussed ways to improve communications between the various members of the team caring for a horse.

"How do we communicate? We exchange ideas," she began. "It isn’t me talking and you having to listen to it all. The veterinarian, client, farrier, and trainer (if applicable) all need to be together to discuss the plan of action for this horse. There needs to be clear communication about all aspects of a case, including the following:

  • "Introduction/history of the case.
  • "Examination: Summary of findings, proposed diagnostic tests, estimated cost of diagnosis, and owner permission for all of these.
  • "Results of diagnostic tests (such as radiographs and venograms).
  • "Summary of findings and discussion of possible treatment plans. Owner goals should be established and short- and long-range plans and costs should be discussed.
  • "Agreement on how the horse will be treated.
  • "Case progression with treatment.
  • "Recording of plans and expectations, barring any and all unforeseen setbacks (the last is very important, she noted).

"Here’s how I explain to an