There are many circumstances in which vets and farriers need to work together for the best outcome for the horse. Disagreements may occur during these discussions of the best course to take. In speaking with Diego Almeida, CJF, of the Midwest Horseshoeing School and University of Illinois School of Veterinary Medicine about dealing with laminitis (September/October 2017, American Farriers Journal), he finds that it is imperative for the farrier to avoid misunderstandings with the vet by being prepared.
“You should be able to present your opinion and thoroughly explain your reasoning,“ he explains. “Don’t disagree with the vet in front of the client. That should be done in privacy. Explain why you think the other option might not work. For you to be able to do that, you need to be well educated. That means discussing your opinion in regard to subjects like anatomy and physiology.
“When you can do this, maybe your opinion won’t be accepted, but you can earn the respect of the veterinarian because you can speak the same language when you discuss the case. It isn’t a competition — it is two knowledgeable people trying to help the horse.”
At times the difference of opinion might be too great. When it comes down to a conflict of your morals as a farrier, Doug Russo says to walk away from the case. The Iowa State University farrier says when this occurs, tactfully explain to the vet that you aren’t comfortable treating the horse and that you are removing yourself from the case.
“Some farriers are worried about doing this and burning a bridge,” he says, “but when you are the last person to apply an apparatus to the bottom of the foot, you are responsible for the outcome. The vet made the diagnosis and recommendation, but if you applied it to the foot and things go wrong, you as the farrier are left holding the bag at the end. So when the case comes to the extreme when you can’t reach an agreement, it is perfectly acceptable to tactfully remove yourself from the case.”
To do so respectfully, Russo suggests saying that you respect their professional opinion but explain that you are concerned about the outcome of this horse and keeping your reputation intact. Because of those two reasons, you are removing yourself from the case.
“Explain that you hope it won’t damage your professional relationship and offer your services for the future,” he says. “If the veterinarian is reasonable, they will understand your perspective.”