Amy Grice, an equine veterinarian at Rhinebeck Equine in Rhinebeck, N.Y., told attendees at the American Association of Equine Practitioners meeting that heightened emotions often occur among horse owners during an emergency situation. This raises the stakes dramatically when it comes to achieving a positive outcome and meeting client expectations.

Grice says the secret for equine professionals is to be flexible, calm and able to communicate in whatever way the situation requires.

Adults Vs. Horses

Studies conducted with human patients have numerous parallels with horse owners. In a study conducted in 2002 with nearly 1,200 patients, researchers found that when doctors did not do certain things, patient experiences were strongly related to trust, satisfaction and the possibility of changing doctors. These included situations such as when doctors:

  1. Did not give patients enough time to explain the reason for their visits.
  2. Did not give understandable answers to questions asked by patients.
  3. Did not take enough time to answer questions.
  4. Did not ask about how their family or living situation affects their health.
  5. Did not share as much medical information as they wanted.
  6. Did not involve patients in medical decisions as much as they wished.

“The simple act of offering a sympathetic and understanding ear and answering questions, many of which were unrelated to the medical problem at hand, had a marked effect on overall patient and family satisfaction with both nursing and medical care,” Grice says.

Be A Good Listener

When it comes to communicating more effectively about foot concerns with horse owners, one of the best tips for farriers may be to improve your listening skills. While most folks think they listen well, many simply speak and then think about what they’re going to say next.

As you think about making a few New Year’s resolutions, maybe it’s a good time to make an effort to work harder at communicating more effectively with clients. It could pay big dividends and result in happier and more trusting clients for you during the coming year.