If your summer schedule includes out-of-town travel, make sure you’ve got a contingency plan in place for handling veterinary emergencies while you are gone. Leaving the numbers where you can be reached is a good start, but if you can’t be found in a crisis situation when minutes matter, it may not be enough.
Ask a trusted friend or family member if they’d be comfortable making decisions about your horse on your behalf. If they agree, write up a letter stating this, sign it and leave one copy with your friend, another at the barn and a third with your veterinarian. It’s a good idea to discuss possible scenarios with your designated decision maker: Are you OK with approving surgery? Up to what potential dollar amount? If your horse has a catastrophic injury, can the decision to euthanatize be made without you?
It’s certainly not pleasant to think about such things, but doing so ahead of time and making the necessary arrangements can help to ease an extremely stressful situation.
This article first appeared in EQUUS issue #441.