How & would you try to recoup vet costs - injured horse

Former client. Works out of town. Keeps her two horses with her parents’ neighbour who is an elderly lady with an elderly horse who needed a friend. Just a recreational rider.

Farrier came out to trim horses when horse owner was out of town (working). Property Owner (PO) and Mom (not a horse person) were there. Horse was being naughty, farrier “got after her” and the result was horse backed into hoof stand. Farrier turned horse back out. PO noticed and commented “that looks like it is bleeding a lot” so farrier said something along the lines of “a vet would probably say to wrap it” and got wraps from his truck and wrapped the leg. Told Mom to tell HO to check the wrap in a day or two. Neither mom nor PO took a close look at the injury.

HO gets back to town, and goes look at her horse about 30 hours later. Sends me pictures asking if a vet should be called. Pictures show about a 3 inch square section where all layers of skin missing (not even a flap), a lot of inflammation, and part of a tendon just sort of sticking on to the exposed tissue, but not attached at the top. I told her to call the vet. Vet came/treated (after hours call).

I went out the next day to help with medication and treatment (HO back at work), and the wound is deep…like tip of flushing syringe goes all the way. Gaping hole with the leg moves. Since then, HO then took time off work to be able to care for her horse (she works 24 hour shifts out of town) - she is a young adult struggling to pay bills and missing shifts and a big emergency vet bill are a hardship. Bill would have been much smaller if vet called at time of injury.

I doubt the horse will be sound, but hopefully saveable.

Should the farrier be liable for vet costs? If so, how should HO proceed?

If it matters, farrier is an “expert” in the industry in that he is also a horse trainer and barn owner.

I don’t think a claim would go anywhere with this. Bad place to be and rubbish way to learn a lesson but this is why you don’t leave important jobs to inexperienced people. I’m sure there will now be 20 people who say they trust their farrier completely to catch the horse, shoe it and turn it back out, but I don’t think it’s appropriate ever to do that. So it’s agreed that the horse needed a competent handler (“horse was being naughty”), and there wasn’t one available. Farrier was put in a bad spot, and could have been in a position where he is injured and off work for who knows how long - not fair to him.
Nobody knows what the wound looked like when it was fresh, nobody had the skill level to assess whether a vet was needed there and then, nobody had the skill level to think being told to leave it unchecked for a day or more was off. While nobody comes out of this well, it sounds like a series of unfortunate events and I (former lawyer but in England) would not expect liability to attach to the farrier here, at best under UK law you’d get partial compensation, but you would also lose that farrier, as would the neighbour, and struggle to get another when word got round. I would suggest that finances and energy are put in to the horse and not a legal battle.

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Agree with the above poster. It was on the HO to find someone skilled/competent to handle her horses for the farrier, not the farrier to handle the horse. I feel for her; I too am a young adult who works FAR from where my horse is boarded. There isn’t anyone “skilled” to handle her so I have to drive down to do it myself. The farrier’s job was to trim the horse and they did that. It was on the HO’s mother (HO’s designated person) to assess the injury and/or contact HO about it.

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I am sorry to say that I don’t find the farrier to be at fault or liable for any charges.

If you have a horse then it is your responsibility as the owner to be there or have someone knowledgable enough there while your horse is being worked on by the farrier or vet for just this reason.

I am always there for either vet or farrier. For my horses protection and the one seeing them. I realize not all people are as fortunate. A hard and expensive lesson learned for this horse owner and hopefully it will come out alright.

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Agree with the others.
A hard lesson to learn, but ultimately HO is responsible.
And fortunate to have a farrier who will do the added work of catching & handling a “naughty” horse when no HO or other horse-knowledgeable handler is available.
I worked full-time 1h+ from where my horses were boarded & had to schedule vet & farrier for a day when I could take off work to hold horses for the Pros.

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I agree the the owner should be there when the farrier is and it doesn’t bother me that he “got after” the horse, but it does bother me just a little that the farrier didn’t check the horse over after it had a mishap with the hoof stand. But that’s just me. As far as getting any compensation from farrier, I don’t see how you could. It sounds like it was just an accident.

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I come from a world where it is standard practice for the HO to not be present for routine appointments like farrier, vet, chiropractor, etc.

I imagine that for some of the posters that have already replied, this is not industry standard for them. This is one of the reasons I always prefer to be present for appointments myself.

The HO has no recourse here, though. If I were her I would probably find another farrier. The farrier is responsible – morally, not financially – for doing something that damaged the horse. I would have a hard time trusting him after that.

I hope her horse is okay.

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Its a bit soon to assume the horse will not be sound again or saveable? Horses can fully recover from some pretty nasty wounds. Before the HO writes the horse off she needs to let it heal and see what happens. As far as the vet bills, afraid I agree with what the others have already said.
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Interesting. My vet client thinks farrier should be liable - as do I. More so for downplaying the severity than for the initial injury. Lower leg injury with all skin removed? Screams antibiotics to me.

Farrier knew the situation and has been trimming the horses with this situation for a couple years. He could have walked away and just trimmed the other two horses. OR he could have suggested that the horse be seen by a vet after the fact. I can’t imagine it did not appear serious immediately. There must have been a large piece of skin on his hoof stand.

@js her tendon was mostly severed. There is some chance it will reattach, but as it had been left to get infected and swell for 30+ hours, the chance of recovery to soundness is slimmer than if immediate help had been sought. I have no idea what his hoof stand looks like that it would cut through skin and tendons though.

Isn’t this why farriers have liability insurance?

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I’d still give a wait and see on the tendon issue, still might be okay but didn’t realize it was mostly severed.

I doubt many farriers have liability insurance, though it is a good idea, same for horse owners having it.

Why doesn’t the HO call the farrier and tell him about the severity of the injury and ask him to cover the initial vet bill?

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Like one of the posters above, the main issue that I would fault the farrier with is that he seemed to say that the wound was minor and they inferred that they didn’t need to call the vet. (It’s also possible that he said something along the lines of, “just wrap it and it should be fine.”)

Either way, the farrier’s advice was obviously wrong, and the farrier overstepped his professional competence. If he was smart, he would have told them they should get the vet out there, but, I’m betting, that he didn’t want to do that because then they might think that he was at fault for how the horse got injured. So, instead, he minimized the horse’s injury and walked away.

Sorry, I’m being judgmental. But I think it’s almost unforgivable that he wouldn’t advise them to get the vet. Especially if he knew that they weren’t really “horse people.”

Having said that, do I think that the horse owner has any kind of legal case against the farrier. No, I think it’s doubtful.

But I, personally, would never, ever employ that farrier again.

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Being responsible for the mishap isn’t the same as legally liable though. Horses can be unpredictable, even well behaved ones. It’s not the farrier’s job to give medical advice so the handler/owner/whatever should not rely on the farrier to be correct.

That said, I would t use him again. But I would never expect my farrier to get and put away my horse either. My farrier won’t do that just for this reason. He’s not interested in being responsible for my horse. Only for the trim/ shoeing.

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What a nightmare! Farrier stands can be dangerous, but they are always nearby when the farrier is working. It sounds like a bad attitude from the farrier and a horse that was either in some discomfort, or nervous. I hope the horse comes back from that.

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Would you be saying the mother is responsible if she looked at it and agreed that it did not need the vet?

This is an example of the need to make sure those who you trust with your horse care (in this case the mother and the neighbor) have the same level of horse care expectations as you do. Even more so if you are not going to be there.

Lots of people look at a wound and say ‘wait and see’. Lots of people have the vet out for any and all things. Some people are in the middle.

The farrier is not a vet. If your horse gets a wound and you want vet care, call a vet. Does not matter what your farrier says. Add that there were two other people there, both of which had eyes. They saw blood. Why did neither actually look at the wound?

No way would I expect my farrier to pay the vet bill in this situation. I am shocked that the vet is saying that the farrier should be responsible. That is so stepping over a line.

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Not “the vet” just, “a vet” who saw the pictures and heard the story.

In my mind the farrier is included in the list of “people she trusts with your horse care”. It’s not like it was his first time there, or that the situation had changed.

All my service providers have liability insurance: farrier, vet, massage, chiropractor, coaches, clinicians. Surprised people don’t expect that of their farrier. HO doesn’t want to cause I stink, but is hoping farrier will at least help with bills…she just doesn’t know how to broach the subject. Thank you @js for an idea on how to test his willingness to help with the bills.

I am still not grasping how his hoof stand could do so much damage. Both of my farriers have hoof stands with rounded edges.

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Anything can cause that much damage when a horse is involved.

The mother and barn owner were there. What do they say caused the damage?

I agree, that my farrier is someone I trust with my horse care. But clearly your friend and this farrier have a different opinion on when a vet needs to be called. That was the point I was making.
I can say that anytime I asked my farrier about vet care the first thing he said was "I am not a vet and it is your horse, but my opinion is… "
In the situation you describe, the person (or people I guess) in charge of making the vet or no vet decision was the mother and neighbor. Certainly not the farrier.

I just can not come up with a way that the farrier is even slightly responsible for paying this vet bill.
If I was the neighbor, and I heard this horse owner trying to figure out a way to get the farrier to pay for this, I would be asking this boarder to leave and find a new barn because I would not want to be responsible for this horse with an owner with that attitude.

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Just because tendons are partially severed, does not mean the horse will not be serviceably sound. This is a picture of my horse, who partially severed two tendons two years ago. His foot would knuckle under as the tendons could not support it to land correctly. It took 13 weeks of intensive rehab, but he is now doing mountain trail rides with no issues.

After rehab.

Good luck with trying to get money from the farrier. I would recommend thinking twice about attempting to do that. It could make it very, very difficult to find other service providers!

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But is that horse care she trusts the farrier with include medical care?

Three different people apparently saw the horse bleed and all three decided that bleeding did not warrant a second look. Did the farrier know better? Maybe (probably?). Did the property owner know better? Apparently not. Did the HO’s parent know better? No. The last two are the people whose job it is to call the vet so its on the HO make sure they’re all on the same page about when to call the vet, or maybe just give HO a ring to ask their opinion.

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So, PO is the old lady and the mom were there. This is just something that can happen when you have to rely on other non horse people. The farrier was a, okay not going to say it. Jsut an awful situation but a lesson learned. I don’t think you have a case here. It would cost too much time, money and reputation to persue and you won’t win.

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I cannot imagine my farrier walking away from a bleeding horse without telling the people there to call the vet. In fact, she knows what vet I use and would have called them herself. I would not expect her to pay the bill, as horses are unpredictable, but if a farrier walked away from a wound that severe, I would never use him again.

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