Wait Too Long to Call the Vet? See What Our Readers Said

More than 900 readers of TheHorse.com responded to a poll asking, "Do any of your horse-owning friends wait too long to call the veterinarian for injury or illness?"

results of when to call the vet poll

Results were as follows: 
  • Yes: 62.54% (576)
  • No: 37.46% (345)

Readers shared their comments below.

Results of weekly polls from TheHorse.com are published in The Horse Health E-Newsletter. Published every week, this e-newsletter offers news on diseases, veterinary research, health events, and in-depth articles on common equine health conditions and what you can do to recognize, avoid, or treat them. Sign up for our e-newsletters using the form above or on our e-newsletter page.

Look for a new poll on TheHorse.com every week!


Yes, they all seem to do a wait see. They laugh at me because I call the vet first.
don't want to spend the money
not any close friends, but several people that I know casually
I have learned enough to know when to call the vet- or to just ship to a vet hospital.
Everyone feels they should try everything they can before calling a vet. Job losses contribute:)
I don't mess around with illnesses or injuries. If it needs a vet I call the vet.
Would you wait to call a Dr. if your child had more than a stomach ache? Why can your horse wait?
Not my "friends" but plenty of others that I know do. Sad!!
Vet calls are way too expensive!
Yes, the cheap ones do!
but they can barely afford their horses in the first place, so they don't want to spend anymore
But it's rare that I can get a vet to come out in an emergency!
They would not be my "friend" if they neglected their responsibilities!
I don't, many self-medicate, then call
Just the opposite, sometimes too quick to call
Most of us take a "wait and see" if we know the situation is not life-threatening
lots of common sense
And it is very frustrating to hear them whine about it later!
mainly because of costs involved
the horses for some as nothing more than furniture.....(sad)
Call to early- panic unecessarily
Yes, thet are not knowledgeable enough to realize how serious the injury/illnes might or could be.
No I'm a equine vet tech so they call me first
I know one who waited days for bad colic
Watched a horse die from "tie-up" over two days. Owner never called vet until horse went down.
I have some ask my opinion first, but no.
sometimes you do not realize you have waited too long
She KNEW BETTER! tried to pull a breech foal with a truck! Foal dead.Mare died next day. Sad, Sad.
And they have lost several because of the delay!
Yes and I'm guilty of the same mistake...
Sometimes but not usually is this the case.
It's usually apparent what level of care the animal needs to experienced owners.
Not my friends, but I have seen other owners wait. $ is usually the cause of the wait.
my friends call if their horse has a pimple
with economics so short alot of people are trying to take care of problems theirselves.
The economy is bad here and vets are expensive
Our vet is onsite at our stables, very convenient
Several of them don't seem to have learned to recognize subtle symptoms of illness.
they don't have enough knowledge to differentiate between emergent/routine illness/injury
Yes! Makes me so mad - then IF they have vet come they don't follow all instructions - horse died!
more education of horse owners is needed to help them determine when to call the vet
Mare in labor left for hours ended in her and foal's death
friends call me to avoid paying vet bill
In our area, it doesn't cost ANYTHING to give the vet a "heads up" call, and let her decide.
they use the "wait & see" method
most owners take care of their horse(s) than they take care of themselves. Sac. CA
Says she doesn't want to "waste her money" and that she knows her horses better than the vet (ugh)
I board horses, this gal lost 1 horse to colic,and had to do ER colic surgery on the other one.
I'd say if anything people call too quickly.
we stay on top of things. we almost had a horse die from colic
This really irritates me. Asses and call
Usually, I do. I keep hoping they will gt better. It's so expensive!
not my friends, but I know of others who do wait too long.
I am a CVT so I encounter first hand almost everyday people who wait too long to call the vet
I'm friends with my Vet, Thank God!
only because there are no vets in the area
They think their horse will be ok no matter what
The wait and see what happens attitude is all too common
I am not one to go running for the vet for every little thing. most I can manage myself.
Sometimes they think they can diagnose as well and dont want to spend the money.
Most are skilled enough to do what they can THEN call the vet
Remember --never "cry wolf"--you want your vet to know you have an emergency if you really do!
Many are unsure of when to call. Usually they call me first, and I tell them to call.
The boarding facility I use, folks are pretty quick to call the vet.
I have one who thinks she can do everything herbally - not true!
I have had boarders who don't want to cll the vet unless it becomes life or death
Most of our horse friends have the same sense of urgency
Some don't want to spend money. I call right away for quick help, which in many ways costs less.
People make bad choices in life, this would be another one.
so we changed vets
I don't know anyone who doesn't call the vet immediately for injury or illness
If no prior appt. for the call, we get charged and additional $100 above farm call charges M-F
extreme fees
I'm very lucky to be around caring and knowledgeable horse people!
They go by what they read first to save money
And my 17yo Dutch WB is living proof of what TO do: when your vet says Colic Surgery DO
Most are quik on the phone!
I am a CVT with a big mouth. They listen when I say " If it was my horse, I would call a vet".
because of the high cost of having the vet out, even if the turns out to be ok
Most do not, but more recently some are due to costs.
I take my horses to my vet as soon as they dont look right even if its nothing, for piece of mind
I watched a horse die slowly from an impaction because the owner said she couldn't afford the vet.
One friend's horse was emaciated and said she's wait until Spring, but the mare didn't make it.
Yes -- because they don't want to spend the money. Often gets worse.
hoping that homecures work. Also very distant and have to haul to diagnostic at WCVM for most things
So much damage to the horses could be averred if only fast action was taken. Especially wounds
Thankfully my horse-owning friends will call the vet immediately if there is an injury or illness.
They know about horses, use common sense and have a good working relationship with their vets-calls
With todays increasing prices, we all tend to think that the wait may be benificial.
I find most call when not needed. In some cases causing more invasive treatments with less success.
Some people I know don't even call the vet.
Some underestimate the seriousness of the injury/illness & some hope it goes away so no vet & $$$$
They are not really friends, but more like acquaintances.
They call other owners like me wanting his to treat their horse so the problem is usually worse by t
If injury is mistaken as the worsening of a current cronic condition, a new injury maybe overlooked.
Do you know an eye can turn to liquid and pour out of a horse's head in less than 24hrs?
Much to the detriment of their horses.
Most pet owners do, and horse owners are no exception
If they have they don't talk about it.
I have never noticed my friends doing anything like that.
YES colics they don't take a temp or use stethescope
People who don't call the vet, are the ones who love there horses to death.
They wait to see if it will go away.
They have a tendency to call the vet at the smallest injuries-ones they could've managed.
I and my friend have a saying" if it isnt right, call em out right away". Better safe than too late.
Most of my friends are very concerned about vet care for their horses.
Sometimes they think they can't afford to call, or that the condition will resolve.
I find knowing when to call the vet is the most difficult issue in breeding and raising horses.
My horses are worth up to $80000 I call the vet right away
Yes, the ones that are too cheap, or too uninformed
It worries me to see that many people first seek advice on internet forums before calling a vet!
I believe that an ounce of prevention is worth much more than a pound of cure.Don't wait!!!
no, we respect their knowledge
to the extent of near death events!!
People try to save$$,it's always the horse that suffers.
If anything, we all call too soon!
me too!
some hideous injuries treated without calling vet. wounds healed. no scars/lameness/infections
but then, I'm a call-the-vet-first person.
In my area, getting a vet is slim to none, unless it's for cattle!
costs of vet care outrageous (quality equine vets scarce) so owners adopt a wait and see approach
Often because there are no nearby equine vets
No one noticed her horse head down and drooling heavily. Was a ruptured stomach, and her horse died.
Usually they call me before the vet... sigh
4 of my friends own horses, any prolblems we know just about as much as the vets around here
Trying to save $$$, usually...
Some don't want to pay the vet bills, which always cost more by waiting
Yes, client didn't call vet when I told them to for a retained placenta. Their mare is not sterile.
Most can barely afford to keep their horses, let alone the vet bills.
Have a friend who has never taken her horses to a vet, doesn't do vaccinations, either.
they think they know what they are doing - NOT!
Trying to avoid the expense is the main reason
Most of my equine friends are conscious of their horses health, and quick to spend $ when needed
I don't!
after using common sense, vets are called if needed.
It's KNOWING/realizing there's a problem that is the issue!
No, everyone I know does the exact opposite--they call the second something doesn't seem right!
Most are too poor to call the vet which makes it even worse.
Calls around for folks' opinions....
I do not- it is usually worth t
Sometimes resulting in death
Very exasperating especially when colic is involved.
They usually call WAY too early and often!
they don't want to pay the vet. Most try their own remedies or ask unqualified people.
No, they're too quick if anything, but better safe then sorry!
I don't believe in calling for every "ouch" but some things mean an immediate call! eyes, stomach...
Normally they call me for advice first
We are on the phone real fast.
Everyone I know cares too much.Responsible horse people
I know 1 girl who never calls the Vet for anything. Even when she should.
They are very conscious of their horses' health & seem to notice any changes in health &/or behavior
no, but we don't waste the precious time of our vet w/unneccasary calls either.
Too many people call an "expert" friend when they should consult their vet.
Its not a matter of waiting; its vet availability. Our county has only two!
they call as soon as it happens
See it all too often.
my big concern is that this problem will increase with a tighter economy.
It's usually the opposite - better safe than sorry
We personally probably call to often and sooner than need be but the opposite is far worse
I know when I need a vet and when I can handle the situation.
Especially with colic symptoms.
not friends, but manage a facility - waited too long re colic and at least 1 case was fatal.
I have lectured until I'm blue in the face, thank God she hasn't lost anyone, it has cost her big$$$
after her 3rd loss (unnecessarily), you would think she would have learned - don't take chances!!!
I call as soon as I can...I'd rather have my vet tell me it's not necessary for him to see the horse
yes, waited until puncture would went septic. Never even washed the wound.
most of the people I know will "just wait and see"
Some of my friends are too frugal!
The ones who own the most horses are the worst.
My horse-owning friends are all vet-techs and know when to call
They drive me crazy!!!
So sad, but very true! Vet visits have become so expensive and often home remedies don't work.
I told her the horse had laminitis in June, had vet out in August when horse immobile from pain
They have lost 2 horses to colic that lasted several days from the first onset.
if the vet is even called, they try to play vet then if it fails, call which is usually too late
especially w/colic its dumb/dangerous
all to often to save money duh
Friends continue to show a horse that has changed in their performance w/o consulting a vet, why?
They should own horses. It's strained our friendship to the breaking point
Everyone I know shows extreme care & concern for their companions and treat them as a family member.
Since the cost of farm calls is so high, many people only call the vet as a last resort.
To save money, I've seen backyard-kep horses waiting for days before receiving proper care.
they often call me first, even when it's life threatening
yes, they pretty much let them exsanguinate
Waited a week to call the Vet when a mare could not deliver her foal, somehow they both survived
After-hours emergency costs are the biggest reasons for waiting
We call the vet and seek their recommedations as soon as a serious injury is known.
If they don't I will
To the contrary, some folks are WAY too quick to call the vet unnecessarily.
And she lost a foal and almost the dam because of it.
They have to be their own judge on their horses treatment.
Many of them really do not Pay Attention to the details and miss things that need attention
My horse is at a good barn, if your horse looks ill or injured fellow boarders, barn owner will call
but I call at the slightest sign--real or imagined

About the Author

Erin Ryder

Erin Ryder is a former news editor of The Horse: Your Guide To Equine Health Care. She owns a portly gray gelding named Duncan and dabbles in several equestrian disciplines, with an emphasis on dressage.

Stay on top of the most recent Horse Health news with FREE weekly newsletters from TheHorse.com. Learn More

Free Newsletters

Sign up for the latest in:

From our partners