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Vet Taboos

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    Vet Taboos

    Hi everyone!

    Quick question because I am such a worrier about offending people that I feel the need to ask this:

    Long story short - since moving barns in August, I have been using a friend’s recommended vet for the last couple months for my horse’s undiagnosed lameness issues, but the barn’s vet is going to be out in a couple weeks to finish spring vax’s. I have been wanting to have a whole new set of xrays done for awhile now (it’s been amost 2 years). If I can get onto the barn vet’s appointment, the trip charge would be waived, and my lameness vet’s trip charge is equal to 2-3 xray shots alone. I have never had any reason not to use the barn vet; I just went by the recommendation. Is it taboo to request xrays to be done by the barn vet if he can fit us in? I have never used more than one vet before.

    Thanks in advance for the education!

    Is there a reason, other than the farm call being waived, that you’d want to use this other vet?

    I typically stay with one vet especially with on goin issues since they know the history of the horse. I switch when given a good reason that usually involves competence.
    Don't try this at home.


      For routine vaccinations or teeth I would feel free to use any reputable vet that was coming by. For true emergency calls, the same.

      For an ongoing problem I would stick to one vet until I felt I needed a second opinion.

      For lameness issues I would go with the best lameness vet in my local or even regional world, because those can be tricky to diagnose. I would stick with that vet until either I really felt I needed a second opinion, or the vet referred me up the food chain to another clinic or university.

      If you get the barn vet to take Xrays, are you going to have him read them for you or send them to your primary vet? Will primary vet be OK with someone else's xrays?

      You could of course always just ask. I would feel free to ask my vet this question.


        I'd feel "funny" having the barn vet x-ray without first discussing with my primary vet. I think I'd approach it with my vet like "Barn vet is coming next week and I can get a reduced rate on those x-rays I wanted done. Would you have an issue with me having Barn vet take them and forward to you?" That way I wouldn't feel like I was doing something my primary vet might (or might not) object to.
        ~~ How do you catch a loose horse? Make a noise like a carrot! - British Cavalry joke ~~


          Sorry, no drive rads. Especially rads as directed/dictated by an owner without any prior relationship or context. And even more especially for an ongoing, undiagnosed lameness issue. Unless, of course, you plan for new barn vet to do a full lameness exam (including radiographs) and include him as a new, independent consulting veterinarian on your horse's case and schedule an appropriate appointment time with him.

          The vast majority of veterinarians would decline to provide this as a one-time service, anyway, as it is a total can of worms. It puts them into a terrible position in which the owner asks them to interpret the films, which they can't do responsibly without a full exam, and it also invites a potential political nightmare with another local veterinarian. Also, egos aside, please know that your primary lameness veterinarian may or may not even be able to use any radiographs you may have taken by another veterinarian.


            I'd have no problems with this. More eyes on a difficult lameness issue is a good thing. I'd not hide it from the primary vet, but I also wouldn't call and ask for permission first, either.

            Get the rads from the new vet, and their opinion. Having a relationship with more that one vet is a great thing in case of emergency and also just considering different skill sets. In years and years of using more than one vet, it's never been weird or uncomfortable for me. No one involved has ever indicated displeasure with the situation.


              Original Poster

              I guess I should explain myself a bit more! So, again - trying to keep this short (I do have another post on here regarding my horse’s lameness: “feeling like a failure of a horse owner” explains most of it).

              7yo Mare has been on/off lame for 2 years. Have used 3 vets in the past 2 years on this (one we could only trailer to and she’s not great at trailering, one was at a university, one made barn calls). None of those vets agreed on a diagnosis, they were all varying degrees of the university’s Dx. We tested/treated for Lyme, arthritis, and nothing seemed to help. Hock/stifle injections lasted a month with previcox. She was last xrayed about a year and a half ago in stifle and front hooves.

              We moved in August to a “paradise” of a barn in my area with great turnout to just leave her alone and let my bank account recover for awhile. In January, I had my friend’s recommended vet out and she recommended doing injections again as sometimes it takes a couple rounds (it had been about 8-9 months), so we did hock and stifles again. They lasted a month. Again. And this vet was so nonchalant about the next steps “well, we can inject here and here, too, I guess.” In my head, I was thinking that shouldn’t we be trying to diagnose more rather than shooting blindly now? Then again, I’m not a vet so I’m probably wrong. So, I opted to just leave her be for now because I’m emotionally and financially spent after trying to help her. I, for myself, wanted to get xrays done to have them on hand should I want to try to diagnose again with any vet, potentially even the barn’s vet.

              I guess I thought it was common practice to do xrays somewhat regularly, regardless of lameness or not. Maybr I’m wrong on wanting these, too? I don’t know. I’m kind of lost in this whole situation right now and have little guidance out here. Thanks, all!


                Original Poster

                Freshman - I am SO grateful for your response! I definitely did not think of it in that fashion and it has shifted my decision! Thank you!


                  ASpoonfullaSplash - You are correct in thinking that more diagnostics are in order rather than blindly injecting here n there. If your current lameness vet is so nonchalant and lackadaisical about it, I would find another. Trust your gut on this one.
                  And yes, if it were me, I would take new rads every so often. If nothing else to tell if things have changed or not.


                    If you need your bank account to recover a little (boy, do I understand that, and so does your vet) then I'd wait on the next xrays until you NEED them for some reason. If they're a few months old by the time you have the next problem, you may get talked into repeating them anyway, or taking different ones.

                    for the original question: if you just needed a couple shots for the farrier, I don't think it would be a big deal to ask the vet who's not your usual vet to take them while they're there. If you wanted something more complex, I'm with those who say stick to whoever you consider your primary lameness vet.

                    I may have already shared this story: friend's NQR mare turned out to have shoulder arthritis/tendonitis after many rounds of hind end issues and injections. We all said "wtf?" but the same lameness vet who had been looking so hard at the back end for so long, got the idea and referred her out, for the second (third?) time. By then, it was more advanced and able to be diagnosed - a year prior, probably wouldn't have shown up. They are now in bank account recovery mode facing a future of light riding. My point: more xrays of the other end of the horse wouldn't have helped, it was the vet who knew her really well saying, "I think I see something different this time, let's go down this avenue instead."


                      Originally posted by freshman View Post
                      Sorry, no drive rads. Especially rads as directed/dictated by an owner without any prior relationship or context. And even more especially for an ongoing, undiagnosed lameness issue. Unless, of course, you plan for new barn vet to do a full lameness exam (including radiographs) and include him as a new, independent consulting veterinarian on your horse's case and schedule an appropriate appointment time with him.

                      The vast majority of veterinarians would decline to provide this as a one-time service, anyway, as it is a total can of worms. It puts them into a terrible position in which the owner asks them to interpret the films, which they can't do responsibly without a full exam, and it also invites a potential political nightmare with another local veterinarian. Also, egos aside, please know that your primary lameness veterinarian may or may not even be able to use any radiographs you may have taken by another veterinarian.
                      My regular farm vet had no problem with it and neither did my lameness vet.

                      Horse had some low level moving lameness issues- EPM, Lyme were negative, blocks couldn't narrow it down, feet xrays showed mild pedal osteitis so osphos injections then time off. Not better after time off. All done by lameness vet. Meanwhile he has gone south for most of the winter. So rather than try to juggle my schedule with when he would be back either during the winter or wait a few months until he was back again I had had my regular vet out for stifle and hock xrays. No lameness exam. She read the xrays and so did lameness vet. The lameness vet let me know what views he wanted.

                      I had an existing relationship with the farm vet. She was doing routine shots, fecals and any emergency work. I did not use that practice for lameness or dental.

                      If OP is going to use the barn vet for vaccines during this trip then she will be establishing a relationship with them. It is generally a good idea to have some relationship with the barn vet so that in case of an emergency you have another option.

                      If OP likes the lameness vet that she is using then ask them specifically what views they want.

                      OP- another option is have the barn vet take the xrays and send them to a university for a specialist to review.
                      Oh, well, clearly you're not thoroughly indoctrinated to COTH yet, because finger pointing and drawing conclusions are the cornerstones of this great online community. (Tidy Rabbit)


                        I agree with SonnysMom - I've used several vets over the years intermittently during the same period of time. It depended on what was going on and who was available. When I was boarding - I'd call the barn's regular vet and establish an account with them and give them a credit card to have on file - just in case.

                        I had zero problem in one instance after the barn's vet diagnosed a problem wrong as did the clinic we hauled her too. I had her hauled to another clinic a couple hundred miles away that handled the surgery and layup. I like the suggestion to ask your regular vet what views she wants and go ahead.

                        In another instance we had a mare come up lame. We were all looking down trying to figure out what was wrong. Vet came in and in 30 seconds pointed out the tumor on her shoulder. He excised it and the problem was gone.

                        I'm just assuming that your vet and your farrier are already working together on how she should be shod. And, that the farrier is also looking at the x-rays.


                          If you are not seeing results with your current vet , then there is no reason why you shouldn't get a second set of eyes ( or x-rays) on your mare.


                            If "lameness" vet was willy nilly about injecting "here and there" too that is a red flag, bbbbuuuuttttt it all depends on the "tone" and reasoning behind saying that. I have had very very well respected vet's inject A...and say if that is not working we will inject B and other words injecting the suspect or more like convicted criminal Most Likely to be actually causing pain first, with the acknowledgement there are accomplices involved that may need to be dealt with to achieve soundness. Typically Xrays have been done BEFORE injecting to confirm that injections are likely to help. Xrays are NOT routinely done unless the horse is lame. Taking Xrays is part art, part science and there is a reason most capable lameness vets have digital machines they bring to the barn...they can instantly see and react to the image and decide if A) it is good enough quality B) it indicates they should shoot something else as well C)proceed with treatment right then. So if you want to give a shot at saving your budget a bit and want to stay with lameness vet you could call and just politely explain that you are wondering if Xrays may be appropriate and Dr Barn(actually name him) is coming out so you are just asking to see IF IF IF maybe it would make sense for Dr Barn to shoot n share. In the end you would be paying lameness vet to come out and treat anyway...and as I said they should be able to take and view xrays immediately then inject if that is the way to treat.


                              My reading comprehension is shot. Are you having the barn vet do radiographs for your regular vet to interpret? Or are you asking the barn vet to interpret?
                              What you posted regarding the vet you have been using makes me think another opinion could be beneficial.


                                One thing to keep in mind is that the portable x-ray machines need to be close to the source of electricity. A long extension cord impacts the quality of the x-ray. If it's been one and a half- two years since your horse's last x-rays - I'm surprised your lameness vet hasn't recommended another set. You do want to compare them to see if there has been deterioration. Have they ever x-rayed her back?

                                I really wouldn't hesitate on this. There is nothing wrong with getting a set of x-rays at a reduced cost to you. Ask your vet what shots she would like done. I would also pay the barn vet for an exam based on the new x-rays. And, make sure they will be available to the farrier. What were the diagnosis and prognosis of the three vets you've used to-date?


                                  freshman is correct. Totally fine if you intend to work with this vet going forward, or even just for this one time to do a second-opinion lameness exam and diagnostics. Not a good idea otherwise.