Communicating With Your Vet

The ability to communicate well is probably one of the most important skills for success you can develop no matter what you do for a living. It seems, at least in my life, that when something goes wrong (or not as well as I had planned), it

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The ability to communicate well is probably one of the most important skills for success you can develop no matter what you do for a living. It seems, at least in my life, that when something goes wrong (or not as well as I had planned), it usually can be traced back to some form of miscommunication. The art of communication–and I do believe it is an art–is something that comes easily for some people, while others have to struggle with the process.


The purpose of this article is to offer some guidance in communicating with your veterinarian. I think a reasonable goal is to make an effort to maximize the time you have with your veterinarian by preparing for that time. This serves both parties because your veterinarian potentially can make more efficient use of his or her time, and it can help your veterinarian make better decisions regarding the health and well-being of your horses.


At the root of failures to communicate lie many things. For instance, if you have a question for your veterinarian on Monday and he is not coming until Thursday, you might forget to ask because of poor memory, being too busy when he arrives to concentrate, or being too lazy to write it down so you will remember. All of these add up in one way or another to a failure to communicate. There also can be a reluctance to ask questions when you don’t understand something. It works both ways, since some veterinarians will “talk over your head” about something without making sure you understand. But unless you ask him to explain, you are the one who loses out.


There are other forces at work in today’s society that lead to failures to communicate. Life has become very fast-paced and high-tech, with communication via voice mail, e-mail, notes, and messages at an all-time high. Don’t get me wrong; I use all of these options and there is significant benefit to them, but there is a potential disadvantage when not discussing something face-to-face

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Michael A. Ball, DVM, completed an internship in medicine and surgery and an internship in anesthesia at the University of Georgia in 1994, a residency in internal medicine, and graduate work in pharmacology at Cornell University in 1997, and was on staff at Cornell before starting Early Winter Equine Medicine & Surgery located in Ithaca, New York. He was an FEI veterinarian and worked internationally with the United States Equestrian Team. He died in 2014.

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