I hope everyone is in the midst of a lovely holiday season! It's been a great year at Henderson Equine Clinic, and we're gearing up for another one! In the meantime, we're enjoying the snow and the quiet of the holidays to rest and enjoy our families... and horses.
I thought I'd take a little detour from my previous posts and talk a little about the internet. You know, that nebulous information superhighway where this blog lives, and a lot of other great information. As we all become more computer savvy horsepeople, it's natural to seek out advice on the internet about our horses. After all, we do it for ourselves... I know if I get a cough, I'm on WebMD.com looking up the symptoms of a cold vs. the flu. The internet can be a great resource. But if you're not careful, it can also lead you astray. How do you know if the information you're finding online is valid?
First of all, learn which websites you can trust. On our Resources page on this website, we've listed some links to good, reputable websites, many of which have good information for horse owners. TheHorse.com, and VeterinaryPartner.com, are two of my favorite places on the internet to point owners. The American Association of Equine Practitioners also has a great website, which has a section "For Horse Owners" and a good search of the articles there. And of course, the websites of veterinary clinics that you know and trust (like this one!) are always a good resource.
Second, look for the red flags that tell you the information might be suspect. Is a non-veterinarian giving medical advice? Is there a lot of "side" information, or does the person seem to be selling a particular product that he/she is recommending? Many "forum" type websites allow anyone to comment and offer advice, and there is usually little policing of this information. Of course, in these forums it is not impossible for someone to identify themselves as a veterinarian when they are not. Take this information with a large grain of salt (a salt block?) and assume that the person providing it is no more knowledgable that a random person you might meet on the street. Or, better yet, avoid these websites all together.
Finally, if you think you have found a reputable site that seems to be giving sound advice from licensed veterinarians, go ahead and check with your vet to make sure that this advice is actually applicable to your horse. Sometimes, very good vets in other parts of the country may be recommending something that does not work in this area. Parasites, skin infections, viruses, etc, can vary across the country, and what is true for California does not always work in New York, and vice versa. Your veterinarian should always have the last word, since she knows your horse and your situation. We never mind a quick chat, and it can save you time and frustration in the long run.
Well, that's all for now! Have a lovely new year, and I will see you all in 2011!