By Mike Fonda, Sr.

At the end of a long day, possibly after driving many miles in all sorts of weather and traffic, many an equine veterinarian must pause for a few moments and shake his/her head in amazement. This amazement is probably not in regard to the animals, but to their owners! Perhaps we can make this difficult occupation a bit easier with just a few common sense reminders.

Start Right

If you bought a horse with his tail screwed on sideways and his ears glued to his rump, there is not much any vet can do to “make it better.” Avoid horses advertised with words such as “dream,” “fantasy,” “partner,” “your Christmas horse,” etc. Shun emotional nonsense and concentrate on physical and mental soundness.

If it takes months, find a quality animal commensurate with your ability. Get a vet check to reduce the possibility of getting stung. Money spent now will save a bundle later. Emotion and fast talk can cover up all sorts of problems. Your vet cannot work miracles after the fact.

Care

Is the “death penalty” better than “life in the pen?” After the purchase, reality sets in, and the owner realizes that even one horse is a lot of responsibility and hard work. The glitter wears off and the horse is seldom groomed, his hooves aren’t picked very often, and he is rarely exercised. Excuses are rampant, but regardless, it is criminal to confine a 1,000-pound animal to a pen, knee-deep in manure, without clean water and quality feed. Carrots, treats, and sweet talk do not take the place of actual physic