Entering 2011, it’s hard to believe that my 20-year veterinary school reunion is now only months away. What an evolution our profession has seen with the advances in technology. The way we learn, communicate, and diagnose has changed, and the advantages are many. These days, as a veterinarian, it is not unusual to walk into a barn and set up more than $100,000 in equipment to do a routine exam. We have digital radiography, computerized radiography, ultrasound, and even lameness locators. Veterinarians have become very adept at using equipment to make an exact diagnosis.
Our equine professionals are trained to search for the newest and best care available for horses. Clients will van their horses here and there to acquire just the right combination of modalities to diagnose and revive their equine athletes. But as our industry becomes more dependent on technology we need to remember how to use our hands and eyes to look at our patients. It seems that more money is spent on technology and less value placed on common sense. All too often we use machines to make our decisions.
For instance, if we can’t figure out why the horse with perfect flexion tests and radiographs kicks out when his lumbar spine is palpated, we tend to downgrade this finding because the machine says everything is okay. What we can’t measure or image tends to lose importance in the overall picture. We prioritize our time differently, and more hours are spent learning how to use and troubleshoot equipment rather than how to evaluate a horse’s topline.
Our lack of attention to the horse as a whole is also represented by the low heel/high heel controversy. For years our