Bedside Manner

A few weeks ago my veterinarian came out to give Harley his hock injections. Harley was pretty overdue for them and had started to take more bad steps behind during some of our rides. He is pretty stoic about pain and also gets a daily Equioxx so even though he hadn’t had injections for a year he was never unsound.



Drunken cross-tie naps



Weeble wobble back to his stall


Harley has some White Coat Syndrome and is always wired for sound when the vet is treating him. The vet checked his hooves and back for any alarming soreness before flexing Harley and having his student trot him in the arena. Surprising exactly no one- his hocks were bad. Bad bad. Especially on the right. The vet mentioned it also might be worth considering injecting his ankles too. He wavered back and forth and ultimately told me it was my decision about the fetlocks. I said “I think maybe the hocks today, and I’ll wait on the ankles” to which he halfway interrupted, “Oh, I’m injecting these hocks today or I’m putting this horse down.”

uh….that escalated quickly….

I understand that he was trying to make a point about the necessity of the injections but there are certainly better ways to do that than making me feel like The World’s Shittiest Leaser TM.

I was pretty much in shock and thought sure he was joking but he reiterated and said it again. I responded, “Awww, this horse is too good-looking to put down”

His response: “Yeah, the Canadians would LOVE him!”

Dude. WTF?!



Broken, useless, old, disposable


Yep, lets put down this fully functioning 20 year old and then sell him for meat. Cool.



Horrific body condition for a senior horse



I’m going to try and assume that the surgery he had before coming out to the barn went long or maybe he didn’t sleep much the night before and was kind of slaphappy- but seriously, it’d be nice to try and never say these things to a client whether in jest or not.

I’m a slightly captive audience and he does render decent care, so I guess I’m not mad enough leave…just disappointed. How’s your vet’s bedside manner?




13 thoughts on “Bedside Manner

  1. So, finding a veterinarian with good bedside manner is nearly impossible. I really like my vet, but some of the things she says I’m like “what?? who says that?” Its super weird. Your horse looks great btw 🙂

  2. Yikes! My vet is very realist with me but not downright rude like that. For instance her last time out we were talking and watching my two at home retired horses walk away as I let them back outside and she pointed out how my oversized back arthritis horse, Stampede, was walking fairly neuro (it comes and goes) and that I shouldn’t be surprised if at some point he just won’t be able to get up. Sure I already knew he was fragile (he’s the epitome of special needs horse) and getting up and down would likely be his downfall but it was nice of her to give me a warning and show she saw the same thing. I don’t want to be blind to my horse’s old age but I would be angry about someone saying such a thing about an older horse who is sound and stilling clearly loving his job like Harley clearly is. I would be tempted to say something to management of the practice if it’s more than just a small place, someone else might really believe him!

    • I agree with you- I definitely appreciate a realistic vet. I want one to offer advice and I’d want the warnings, too. My best barn friend has a pony with ringbone that she manages to keep sound and happy in his work most of the time despite knowing that it will only get worse. I don’t think that’s cruel, I think it’s great. Getting a reality check is one thing or even an explanation that is tough to hear, but it’s a real bummer to be shamed by a professional for requesting a treatment. 😦 It just makes me sad. I’d have rather had a legitimate conversation about him needing to retire than euthanasia jokes. Sigh…
      Unfortunately it’s kind of a mom and pop shop so any complaint would likely fall on deaf ears or get me into more trouble. Blogging about it will have to serve as my venting!

  3. Wow. Those comments were completely uncalled for. I’m assuming that since they did flexion tests to confirm the hocks that Harley was perfectly capable of walking on his hind legs before the appointment and thus is a long ways away from needing to be put down due to chronic lameness.
    I had one vet who seemed to be a total ass and had no bedside manner. I only used him a couple of times and then steered clear of him. Most others have just been honest and told me like it is, which I have no problem with.

    • Perfectly capable of low level dressage before the appointment. I’m sure he does have some pain- but so do I! I’d still much rather endure arthritis pain and continue moving as long as possible. It was so odd….

  4. Those comments are way out of line. I would gear towards using someone different if you can! I was confused at first with the Canadian comment… I was like “I’m Canadian and I do love him!” and hten I was like…oohhh….no 😦

    When my high school horse, Blue, was diagnosed with navicular my mom and I were very upset. The vet shrugged and said “Well… you have a nice pet here I guess.” and walked away. I saw him two hours at the grocery store I was working and he didn’t recognize me. I get that it’s a tough job for them but a little compassion would go a long way.

  5. Wow!!! Knock on a lot of wood, I’ve never had a horse vet out for anything other than shots, so I’ve got nothing to add here, except, WOW!

  6. I want a vet that will be realistic with me and honest. But those comments were waaaaaay beyond that — I don’t blame you for being upset! I’d be PISSED

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