How do I create the best team for my horse?

Recently, I had the distinct honor of moving from the West Coast to the East Coast with the horses.  Naturally I needed to find some new “Team Members” to help me and the boys.  This made me really think about what sorts of traits I look for in a Veterinarian, Farrier, Saddle Fitter, Massage Therapist, you name it!  Here are some of the questions that I asked when looking for my “Horse Team”…


Veterinarian -


  • Location relative to the barn and territory around the office.  So if the Vet’s office is one hour north, and they are on a call one hour north of that, that’s two hours to reach me.  


  • How are on call emergencies handled?  For a multiple doctor practice, it’s likely that the Vets rotate and can have access to your horse’s records.  For single doctor practices, they may refer you to a hospital (can you get there, do you have a rig?) or a larger practice nearby may share the call.  


  • Do they have wellness packages to offer?  This can save you dollars for routine vaccinations and deworming practices. 


  • What services do they offer and specialize in? If you only own broodmares, a sport horse Veterinarian is not for you.  



Farrier - 


  • What’s the protocol for sprung shoes?  Too bad so sad, or can they come and tack it on right away?  


  • Driving distances - helpful to know if you are going to local shows or events and your horse likes to remove his own shoes away from home. 


  • Does the Farrier have an assistant?  This helps with time (in some cases).  


  • Does the Farrier use stands or not?  Stands are great for younger and more mobile horses, in older horses they may be uncomfortable as they can be too high.  Or vice versa.  Horse are always proving us wrong. 


  • Does he have experience with all of the fancy things? Pads, pour ins, snow shoes, barefoot trims, wedges, special shoes, etc.?



Massage Therapist/Chiropractor/Equine Dentist -


  • What are their qualifications?  In some states, you must be a Veterinarian to work as a Chiropractor or Dentist.  Know your state’s laws so you know your horse’s practitioner is working within those laws.   This is especially true for Equine Dentists that may need to sedate horses, a non-Veterinarian will not be trained to deal with sudden and dangerous adverse drug reactions.  A non-Veterinarian will also not be able to diagnose, treat, or prescribe medications for dental issues. 


  • Do they offer additional therapies?  Many massage therapists also offer laser or magnetic treatments.  Make sure your massage therapist understands the situations in which these treatments are not recommended (like the horse with a growth or tumor).  
  • What sort of equipment do they use?  Many horses prefer to have a dental procedure done with a sling instead of a stand, or vice versa.  

Saddle Fitter - 


  • What brand of saddles does the saddle fitter work with?  Sometimes you need to seek out your saddle’s manufacturer rep in the area.


  • Can the saddle fitter come to you, or do you need to be at a show where they have a tent?

  • Are adjustments to your horse’s saddle able to be made right away, or does the saddle need to be shipped out? 


  • Can they help you try and adjust saddles when you are in the market for a new one?



Boarding Barn Manager - 


Well, this is a whole other can of worms as your horse will need to be involved with a barn manager every single day.  I have already comprised a huge list of questions to ask potential barns here! 



Who else is on your horse’s team?  What sort of things are important to you when working with you horse’s team?