We all know those people who are always looking for the next shiny thing. They’re always trying new diet and exercise plans, doctors, grocery stores (and, in some cases, husbands), because the previous one had some glaring fault or another.  It’s called SOS (Shiny Object Syndrome), or FOMO (Fear of Missing Out). Add a horse to this person’s life, and suddenly there are thousands of new things –  and suddenly, other people at the barn start ducking into the bathroom or pretending they’re talking on their cell phone when they see this never-happy person coming.

An example – how many horse owners do you know who spend a lot of time on forums asking everyone and their uncle for opinions on caring for an insulin-resistant horse; whether it’s better to have your horse shod or barefoot, or whether cold-laser treatment is worth trying. They perceive an issue, and (rightly) turn to their vet for an answer. The vet gives a straightforward evaluation, (backed up by years of training and experience), but the owner isn’t satisfied. They read on a forum that when horses have symptoms of ABC, they have to be treated with DEF. So then they have a chiropractor and/or a massage therapist work on the horse (on the basis of someone on a forum saying that’s what saved their horse’s life), then, when the (occasionally nonexistent) issue doesn’t resolve to the owner’s satisfaction, they decide that it’s really a shoeing problem, and they ask all their friends who the best farrier is. Hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars later, the owner circles back around to the vet’s original suggestion – at least until they read the next forum post touting a new supplement or therapeutic treatment. Don’t do that, OK?

Here are some of the problems I have with that sort of behavior – in no particular order.

  • Why in the name of all that is good and holy would you take advice from anyone and everyone with a clever screen name on an unmoderated horse forum. Seriously?? Do you even know if FriskyFilly1999 can tell the front of a horse from the back? What’s their training? Just because they’ve seen their neighbor’s son’s girlfriend’s horse get cured of something does not mean they have any actual knowledge – trust me on this!
  • You need to have a support team you can trust – and then you need to let them do their jobs. Your veterinarian has spent years (in many cases, decades) acquiring the knowledge and wisdom it takes to provide exceptional care for your horse. What’s FriskyFilly1999’s horse experience? (having read all of the Black Stallion books 25 years ago does NOT count…) If you’re not comfortable with your vet, figure out why, then figure out exactly what you are looking for and get recommendations. Want a vet with a hospital including surgical ward, treadmills, pools, etc for rehab, or are you happy with the vet that’s been working with horses since 2 years before you were born and arrives at the barn in her slightly battered pickup?  Neither one is necessarily better than the other, they’re just different – like a brand new Camaro vs a 15-year-old pickup truck. Gotta get hay, you’ll have better luck with the truck. Do lots of driving for work? Maybe the Camaro is a better fit (especially a red convertible, just sayin’). If your horse benefits from chiropractic treatment, acupuncture, and massage therapy – go for it – but do it as part of an overall plan – not just because you want to try the next shiny thing that comes along. Over my 50 years as a horse owner, I’ve relied on professionals in all those specialties and more to keep my horses healthy and happy, but I’ve never done it on the advice of SaddlePalGal on some forum or another – I’ve actually trusted the professionals I enlisted to help care for my horses.
  • Need another reason? You seriously get on people’s nerves – namely your vet, chiropractor, massage therapist, farrier, and horsey friends. For goodness sake – pick one thing and actually give it a fair shot before you decide it isn’t working! Few things in life are fixed within the first 5 minutes of a new treatment. Learn the facts about the modality you’re interested in, (notice, I said facts, not opinions), and give it a long enough trial period to be able to evaluate its effectiveness.
  • Final reason? Probably the most important one. You’re doing a disservice to your horse. Even if your heart’s in the right place, constantly trying the latest thing, only to abandon it a few weeks down the road, or when the next shiny thing pops up, can stress a horse, physically and mentally. Horses are creatures of habit, and constant upheaval doesn’t usually settle well with them. Please note: I am not saying that you shouldn’t ever try new modalities, supplements, or stretching exercises – what I am saying is to work with your trusted professionals to establish a plan to help your horse feel and perform his best.

Still dealing with FOMO? Go ahead and read those forums and check out what FriskyFilly1999’s latest suggestion is – read everything, then go to someone reputable (like your vet), and get the real story. Chances are, you’re not actually missing that much.

Until next time, Love Your Horse, Love Your Life, and Love Yourself!