I, like many of you, am a member of many Facebook groups that are dedicated to all things “Horsey”. I love looking at the pictures, and stuff, but then, there are posts that concern me, and these are the ones that generally start with,
“Admin, please delete if not allowed.”
I can feel my anxiety start to creep up as soon as I see that sentence.
The questions that followe tend to be ones that should be answered by a professional in the subject.
By professional, I mean someone that has education, training and experience in the subject matter that is being asked about. Google does not make you an expert. Google is not a diagnostic tool, and while, it can help provide information after a professional diagnoses, the, diagnose does need to be done, with the help of diagnostic testing, by a professional that is trained to diagnose, perform diagnostic testing, and interpret the results.
Think about it, how many times have you googled your own symptoms, and ended up being told to phone for emergency services or get yourself to the hospital now!! Or you have convinced yourself you have a serious condition with no treatment options, but it turns out, it is something a lot less ‘news worthy’ which is easily treatable. (Guilty 😛 )
Here is an example, there was a horse with a swelling, the comments ranged from a self-inflicted kick, insect bites, to pigeon fever. Quite frankly, it could have been anything. The most worrying comments were the statement of fact comments, which seemed to be saying it is “Blah” and you have to do x…y..z. There were some quite desperate measures being described. Measures which would cause much more harm than good, for example, draining a swelling that is not infected, will most likely end up with the swelling being infected. It is something that vets will not do unless they are certain it is already infected, and there is no other path of action. You cannot tell if a swelling if infected just by looking at it. It takes blood work, and/or diagnostic imaging to be certain.
If you feel you need to ask for advice on line, and take advice from a random internet person, I think you need to consider why. If you are trying to avoid vet fees, perhaps you should consider if you can afford your horse? If you cannot afford the vet fee, then, you cannot afford the horse. This is harsh, but true. If you are unsure if your horse needs a vet call, or some “home care” will resolve the issue. Ask an equestrian professional that you trust and see what they say. And here is a tip, if they make a suggestion without seeing the horse (or at least good photos), talk to someone else. There are good “Rules of thumb” to follow regarding injuries, and the same regarding swellings and those annoying but inevitable “lumps” horses have. But if you are ever unsure, then call the vet! That is what they are there for, and what we pay them for. And, please start with the vet. There are many “Equine professionals”, but many are unregulated, and have minimum training, and while there are some awesome equestrian people out there, they are the exception, not the rule.
Here is a good article on when to call the vet, or please have a look at you local horse society website , HCBC, or BHS for example., they will quite often have good information for you:
But, just in case you are interested, my rules of thumb are:
- If I can see anything other than skin – Call the vet
- If there is a yellow fluid – Call the vet
- If there is a laceration that is near a joint and /or longer than my finger and is more than just top layer of skin – Call the vet
- Any type of puncture wound – Call the vet
- Something I have never seen or dealt with before…. You have guessed it…CALL THE VET!!