Sources Do Matter

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The Internet has put an almost incomprehensible amount of material at our fingertips, but you can’t believe everything you read. One of your best sources for basic information is university- or government-sponsored sites. You can recognize a university/school site easily as you scan through search-engine hits because the address will end in ”.edu.” Try tacking it onto the end of your next search. Instead of a search for the two words ”horse feeds,” which first brings up companies that have paid their way into the most search-engine results, try one for ”horse feeds .edu.”

Be leery of information from sites that are selling something. Whether it be a horse, saddle, feed, or salt-block holder, you can bet that you’ll be told their product is exactly right for you. There are instances where a manufacturer may tell you their product isn’t ideal for your situation, but they’re the exception rather than the rule. Would you expect a pizza-parlor owner to tell you the pizza down the block is better than theirs, or a Chevrolet dealer to tell you that you really need a Dodge'

What if the site you’re looking at claims research' Request the details. If you don’t really understand it, ask someone who will. Ask who did the research, and what their qualifications are for doing research. Do an Internet search to check the credentials of ”experts.”

It’s important to understand the difference between testimonials and research. Don’t be taken in by catch words such as Performance, English, Western, advanced, latest, industry leader, cutting edge, breakthrough, organic or natural. Celebrity endorsements are another common ploy. Ignore them.

You don’t have to microanalyze every decision or purchase, but there is a huge difference between the importance of hoof-pick styles and how your horse is fed, exercised or treated for a serious disorder. Researching to learn all you can is a good thing — as long as you also know how to sort through the information presented to you.

Start by making sure you thoroughly understand the problem you’re dealing with. If it’s a medical condition, the first step is to understand the possible causes. When you do, some suggested treatments make about as much sense as treating a fractured bone with chicken soup.

-Eleanor Kellon, VMD