Owning a horse is a major undertaking – the rewards are great, and proper care will keep your horse in good condition; however, at times major expenses can be incurred, often when you least expect them. And if you enjoy riding competitively, especially if you travel out of state, whether on trails or in the show ring, the costs of immunizations and other requirements for these events can add up quickly.
A breakthrough in “preventive maintenance” for equines is now being offered, which ensures that the client’s horse is well cared for, and receives all the necessary care and treatment, while saving money through the plan.
Dr. Joseph D’Abbraccio, of the Catskill Veterinary Services, LLP, Monticello, NY, was enthusiastic about his practice’s program, and explained that while a number of small animal veterinarians are providing a similar service for their dogs and cats, it’s a new program in this area of upstate New York for equines. He first became aware of the program while traveling across the country and attending seminars in Texas and the Midwest. As there was no such offering in the Hudson Valley and Catskills area, he decided to bring the idea to his Catskills Veterinary Services.
There are four levels offered in the Equine Wellness program – ranging from the Standard Wellness for the basic ‘backyard’ horse care; to the Senior Wellness Plan, which includes photos of the horse, a full-body check for comparison and hormone functions that become important especially as the horse ages.
Catskill Veterinary Services began enrolling clients on Jan. 1, 2016, and will be enrolling new clients in the program until April 15, 2016. This enables the veterinarian to better plan his schedule and be flexible when scheduling new appointments.
The advantage of enrolling in an Equine Wellness program gives horse owners the satisfaction of knowing that their horses are up to date on their vaccines and health care, and will know in advance when they are scheduled; as well as being able to save a significant amount of money in the process. The packages offer a reduction in the price of immunizations and treatments; the enrollment fee also covers the costs of monthly processing. Payments may be made in one lump sum or over time; whether monthly or in just a few payments.
Clients enrolling in the programs benefit the veterinary practice as well; with roughly 400 equine patients being treated, treatment times are scheduled more smoothly, and knowing in advance how many vaccines to order saves the practice money, which is then passed on to the client. If there are multiple horses at one location (more than three) each horse will enjoy a reduction on the package plan itself. In addition, there is a discount on other routine care or emergency calls, for example if a horse is enrolled in the program and needs a farm visit for emergency or other treatment, that animal will receive a discount for such a call or treatment.
A breakdown of the plans is as follows:
- The General Wellness Plan is designed for the horse that stays at home and rarely comes in contact with other horses or horse facilities. These horses are at minimal risk for contracting an infectious disease. This basic plan includes farm calls twice a year, spring and fall. It includes a general exam of the eyes, ears, joints, heart, gut, and skin. There is also a nutritional consult, a dental exam, and a fecal egg count to evaluate the presence of parasites. A digital Coggins test is done, and photos of the horse are stored in a database. The turnaround time on the Coggins is fast – results are back in four days (much faster than in the past when Coggins tests are sent to Cornell which is a three-week process.) The digital tests keep the horse in the database, which can easily populate certificates of the blood test; and the digital web portal provides access to the horse’s records at anytime, and from anywhere. (which is especially helpful if you are traveling to a show or event and can’t find that Coggins test result, or forgot to bring it with you!) A Coggins test result can be printed up online and it has the doctor’s digital signature – providing a better ID of horses, as well as any chip numbers if the animal is microchipped.
During the spring visit, immunizations given are the three-way EWT vaccine, West Nile Virus and Rabies vaccines, with a booster given again in the fall. The fall visit will include all of the above, as well as a dental floating with sedation, an oral exam with pictures of the teeth. Any additional dental care that might be needed would have a deduction.
- The Supreme Wellness Plan is designed for the horse that frequently comes in contact with other horses or horse facilities; show horses and horses kept at boarding facilities may be at a greater risk of contracting an infectious disease. This option includes all items from the General Wellness Plan; in addition, the Rhino/Flu Vaccine and Intranasal Strangles Vaccine in the spring, and the Rhino/Flu vaccine booster in the fall.
- The Performance Wellness Plan is designed for the work and performance horse. It includes digital lateral hoof radiographs that will help your farrier evaluate the bone column and hoof angle, and baseline blood work. This option includes all items from the Supreme Wellness Plan as well as a Complete Blood Count & Chemistry and Digital Radiographs (4 lateral foot images.)
- The Senior Wellness Plan is designed for the senior horse. This option includes all items from the General Wellness Plan; in addition it includes ACTH – Baseline, and complete blood count and chemistry and nutritional consult with photographs of the horse.
Catskill Veterinary Services is very pleased with the Equine Wellness Program, as it allows the veterinarians to budget their time and provide the best possible care, examining every single horse and tracking their health and reports. It provides a much better and more thorough alternative than just having horses vaccinated – the horse is given a thorough ‘hands – on’ exam and records are kept that can be accessed digitally. And knowing in advance how many equines will be enrolled enables the veterinarian to purchase supplies at a better cost – which is then passed along to the horse owner. For more information visit www.catskillvetservices.com.