We should all agree that when we see any professional, we expect that professional to work in our best interest. This would include any service professional from auto mechanic or electrician to any kind of doctor.
I just had an electrician come to my house to give me an estimate for some work. Actually, I had 2 scheduled two weeks ago but one had called a day before to ask if I could send pictures instead of actually coming out there because he was too busy. The other showed up on time, was courteous and very informative and efficient. I don’t really know a lot about electricity especially when it comes to codes and ordinances, but he knew them exactly and drew up an effective and legal plan to add a high voltage outlet.
I FELT good which is another way of saying that I didn’t feel that I was being ripped off. In fact, his estimate will NOT be the determining factor when I select him to perform the work. It will be his honesty, knowledge and integrity.
The Equine Dentist
For the last 2 weeks, I have worked across 2 states where non-veterinarians are either partially or fully excluded from performing routine floating. Throughout this time I heard many times that the horse owner had waited years to get their horse’s teeth floated because of an awful floating event the last time.
In each case, the owner had not FELT good about the automatic drugging and the use of power equipment. In each case, they had been told that as a veterinarian, they were doing what was right for the horse. But in one case, the owner had asked the vet to stop 3 times and he flat-out refused and told the owner to leave him alone to finish. The owner was helpless against this bully.
I’m not making this up!! Can you imagine if any professional told you or me to shut up and leave when we object to the way they are behaving? Who is paying them anyway?
This week I received this in my email. I will copy and paste it here because her words are so effective.
“Two dental visits ago a jerk recommended by a respected trainer, Dremel sawed the length off my 21 year old warmbloods front teeth. Before I could intervene, the slice was made. He also illegally over sedated him to the point he couldn’t stand up behind and then punished him for not standing. He has no business doing dentistry. He obviously has no love or respect for the horse. My warmblood couldn’t eat for 2 months and gave me hay tobacco plugs for my trouble. He ate wet complete feed slop for 2 solid months and still doesn’t eat correctly.”
She goes on.
“When I sent him these pictures (of the formed hay balls or quids) and said I needed help, he chewed me out by text saying I’m no horseman and that the horse was just pissed because he didn’t get his way during the dental work!! He told me not to baby this horse by wetting his feed etc and that my horse is just a “stubborn asshole”. Geoff, this poor guy would try to eat and then stand in the corner with his head to the ground. It just broke my heart. As for sawing off the length of his front teeth with a Dremel saw…I’m still mortified just thinking about it!! I’m not kidding. When I saw what he was doing, I almost fainted on the spot. My gut still grabs at the memory. The perfect example of what dentistry should not be. What a disservice to such a regal animal.”
Integrity, Competence and Compassion
Integrity is defined as honesty, strong moral principles, the state of being whole, unified, unimpaired, sound construction, internal consistency and lack of corruption. Integrity is looked for in any professional and is FELT more than actually realized. When it came to the visiting electrician, it was his actions and confidence that factored into the feeling of his integrity.
But with horses and all living things, more is required than just integrity and competence. Compassion is needed and from what I can see in my travels to horse farms around this country, compassion requires a lack of fear. In almost every bad story I hear about veterinarians and equine dentists, the root level of the problem comes from fear and therefore lack of compassion.
Fear includes not only the horse, of which so many are afraid, but also the human. If someone is afraid of their ability in their profession, their lack of confidence in what they are doing will make them fearful that this will be revealed to the owner. Making things worse can be underlying fears that their home relationships or their finances are failing too. When you stack all of the fears people have and bring them into a horse’s stall, bad things happen. Many hope that being with the horse will overcome these internal fears but in reality, it gives the opposite effect.
When people tell me they work with horses for the positive feelings they seek but they are not getting, I ask them how their relationships are with their spouse, parents, siblings, or the man behind the counter at the convenience store. They meekly reply, “Not good.” I always tell them to get those relationships right first and the relationship they want with their horse will follow. Horses are not machines and the problem with equine dentists (and other horse professionals) is that they treat them as lifeless objects (see the picture above).
It takes courage to repair and maintain relationships between people and as long as professionals remain afraid of people and horses, they will continue to hide behind this fear and stories like what I hear almost every day will continue. Horse professionals will continue to automatically drug every horse they see and call them derogatory names and mistreat horse owners and pretend that they are working in the best interest of the horse as long as they remain afraid.
I once asked a client whose profession was a psychologist what the number one problem was with people. His answer was simply, “Low self-esteem.” The fear people have of horses and horse owners and their poor treatment of them is purely a low self-esteem issue. If you want to hear more about how Melissa and I help horses and people overcome this, let me know and I will write about it in the next blog. The solution is found in understanding our own root behavior.