Thursday, February 14, 2013

You have to read this and comment!

I have been shopping and reasearching a bit. Ride season is just around the corner and I really WANT TO RIDE ..

My goals for Maggie this season have little to do with endurance. It was a decision that was both easy to make but hard all at the same time. I love the sport, more than any other riding discipline I have ridden in, but when I look at the facts, it's not the best fit for Maggie. Yes, she is fast and tough as nails but she is also very hot and the competitiveness of it all just fries her little brain. She doesn't eat well, drink well or rest well. In time, some horses might figure this out. Maybe Maggie would also, in time, but I think she has more to offer in another direction. It's my responsibility to find what that is as her owner.

 After a lot of looking, I  have tentatively arranged a few lessons on working cows to begin in the coming weeks. It's  a local trainer who is supposedly trained in the Buck Brannaman styles of horsemanship. Ofcourse, I proceed with caution on that because alot of trainers make that same claim and most can't cash the check. Only one way to find out. Go ride with him a time or two and see for myself if it's a fit.

In the meantime, I need to get some concerted riding time on the ol' girl and grease the wheels again before I ask too much.  She's been a pasture muffin since October and I am sure we will have a few issues to sort out. I certaintly can't do anything at home with the footing. What to do? Find a boarding facility and board her for a month or two so I can have access to an arena. That's my only choice right now.

It's been over 10 years since I have had to board a horse somewhere. I had no idea it was such a process. I think ,a fter alot of calls and looking, I may have found a suitable place but I ran into a situation with one place that really shocked me.  This particular facility came to me highly recommeded , that it was run very well, kept clean and had vet techs on staff there. It sounded great . It was also pricey. In speaking with the owner , she seemed very nice and sent me all the paperwork. It turns out you have to apply to board there and they have to approve you. Ok, I could appreciate that. They were trying to weed out less than reliable boarders. Made perfect sense. They required vaccinations and coggins. Vaccinations I could understand but I explained to the owner that I do not vaccinate my horses any longer due to some ongoing reactions . The owner was willing to still accept me as a boarder in that case since I would be the one taking the risk. As far as requiring Coggins, that seemed to be a stretch to me because  MT law states that if a horse has had a coggins,  and has not left the state since, you don't need to renew it yearly.  That said, I was willing to  go get a Coggins regardless. The owners were obviously trying to protect themselves from an EIA outbreak and lets face it, not everyone is honest about their horses whereabouts or health for that matter.

Here is where the wheels fell off for me..
Apparently somewhere in the communications and the emailing back and forth about the vaccinations, the owner took it upon herself to ask the vet techs about my horses health history. I had not signed any paperwork or made any committments to board at this facility. She essentially "checked" up on me and the vet techs openly told her they knew of my horses reactions to  vaccinations in the past.

As far as I know, in selling or buying horses, a  release  of information has to be signed by the owner for others to have any medical information. In this case, this info wasn't highly confidential or anything , but it's the point that the facility owner took it upon herself to pry because she happened to have access to people who knew and that the techs openly discussed it without my consent. At the very least, the techs should have known better.

It bothered me.


No, it flat out pissed me off.

The owner claims she is working very hard to run a facility without any "typical horse boarding drama".  It seems to me her actions don't quite follow her words. Had she asked,  I would have gladly told her she could contact my vet for records or even talk to my vet about my choice not to vaccinate. But she did not and took it upon herself to get information that I did not consent to, that she had no right to know. I had to wonder what else the techs are sharing that they shouldn't be with other horses or potential clients.

In the end, I have chosen another facility and the owner lost a potential client but I am curious about what your thoughts are .

What would your response to this be? Was this innappropriate on the owners and the tech's part or am I having too high of expectations?

**disclaimer in the off chance that someone who was involved in this  or knows someone that was involved in this and might be reading....Professionalism and Client Confidentiality are important and I would be happy to discuss it with you.



Judi said...

I have boarded my horses for over 20 years at a number of different places. The atmosphere of the stables is a direct correlation to the personality of the owner/manager. You made the right decision.

Grey Horse Matters said...

I think you were right to be pissed off. The vet techs violated your horse's medical confidentiality. The owner seems to be very controlling and I'm sure you made the right choice in boarding elsewhere. As an aside; we once ran a boarding operation and I would never have gone over someone's head for information pertaining to them or their horses. I would have asked them to supply the information or asked permission to contact their vet first.

Tevis Stories said...

Personally, I think you anger/frustration toward the owner is a bit misdirected. She was simply doing her best to research a potential new client. It sounds like, from your post, you had already disclosed to her that you didn't vaccinate for personal reasons (did you mention a reaction?). If you're going to be upset, but upset with the vet techs who are blabbing their mouths. That might be worth a call to your vet clinic to inform them of what happened. I agree, they should not be disclosing anything about your horse without your consent.

To me it sounds like the owner runs a very tight ship and wants to do her best to minimize any drama and/or issues. Having lost a horse to a strangles outbreak that came through the boarding barn (my young 2 yo filly never left the property), I'd rather have a facility that wanted more strict medical records and did items such as quarantines and follow up standards of care, than one that didn't. YMMV

Ruth said...

I'm kind of with ~C on this. The stable owner is not a medical professional, therefore isn't bound by any confidentiality law, per se. (Of course, neither is a vet tech? I don't believe there is a veterinary equivalent of HIPAA.)

If I were as picky/careful as this barn owner sounds to be, I might have casually asked about you too. Heaven knows when someone new starts boarding at our barn we want to know how they heard about us and what kind of riding they do and a gossip in a harmless way, mostly to see if they are going to fit in with the culture that we have going.

I think the vet tech deserves a wag of the finger if you are upset about the breach of confidentiality. And if you are really upset, maybe just mention to the barn owner (as diplomatically as possible)that you were uncomfortable with the process.

cheyenne jones said...

I really wondered at this Jonna. It sounds to me, being an outsider, that it wasnt so much a case of trying to board a horse, as joining a rather select club! i think your well out of it, bit like a High end Golf club vetting members. If your vet certs are up to date, and you can pay, whats the diff? I`m really sorry, but I`ve heard it all now!
Go Jonna go! Glad you found somewhere else!

Anonymous said...

Yes the HIPPA laws govern veterinary proffesionals. They are as likely to be sued over mis use as anyone else.

I would talk to the vet about it. It is not okay to disclose. ANY information you haven't explicitly told them you can. The vets I have worked for require the owners permission to talk about anything.

Jonna said...

Thanks for all of the interesting responses. I have managed boarders before and I also would never have inquired into a person's horse health history without getting the owner's permission.. Had she held off and waited for my signed consent she would have had all the information she ever needed/wanted and probably more. Health information IS in fact personal and confidential between the vet and the horse owner but HIPAA does not govern vets. However there is the AVMA which is the veterinary's code of conduct. You can read for yourself here . Pets are still considered property, and human rules don't apply. Nonetheless, records are privileged and confidential as stated in the AVMA code of ethics.
@ Anonymous- where are you finding that HIPAA laws govern veterinarian? I am curious because I am very familiar with HIPAA and to my knowledge it doesn't transcend to anyone but humans.

To answer -C's question, yes, I did disclose the reaction to the vaccinations but I hardly feel that matters and to your point, yes, the techs are in the wrong 100% and I was equally upset with their poor conduct. I believe both parties are at fault. The vet techs do know better.

The facility owner is not a medical professional but she has been in the horse business a long time. It seems common sense should rule. Anyone who has bought or sold a horse should be aware of the process of transfer of medical records from the vet. There has to be a release signed and getting that same medical information for a boarding contract should be handled no differently.
I would agree Cheyenne, judging form the conversations and emails I had with the owner, it's very possible they are trying to establish themselves as more of an elite boarding facility which is all fine. I can appreciate wanting to have a nice facility that is tightly run but I think there is an appropriate and professional way to go about it. That is not what was demonstrated here. For heavens' sake, we aren't in Middleburg Virginia!

Anonymous said...

I have spoken with an attorney who is also a veterinarian and he says that with any medical proffessional there is an "assumption of confidentiality". If a case was tried in court over this type of confidentiality, when most medical prfessionals ARE governed by the HIPPA laws, the veterinarian (or staff) would be seen as at fault for not adhereing. So yes veterinary professinals need to adhere to them as well. It might not be written in stone but it gets tricky, so most veterinarians I know adhere to them.