When boarding horses for a living you are going to have two different kinds of clients. You will have many clients that will call the veterinarian even before you have a chance to look at the horse and you will have others that will wait and see how the horse does depending on the illness or lameness. Whenever a horse becomes ill or hurt there needs to be some balance in deciding when it is time to get help. So much will depend on the severity. It is a judgement call many times and if the client wants to call the vet for peace of mind then that is always a good thing. There will be many times when a boarder will ask if a vet needs to be called and then you can give them your thoughts on the situation. There will be times when you will tell them that it can wait and then there will be times when you need for them to call a veterinarian asap. They will be looking to you for guidance in many situations.
When you have a boarder that needs to call the vet but refuses, then as the barn manager it is your job to make sure that horse is being taken care of. That is where a well written boarding contract (approved by an attorney)is a must. You should have in place a boarding contract where it states that if the owner of the horse refuses to call the veterinarian then as the barn owner or manager, you have the right to get help for the horse and the owner of the horse will cover the cost. If it gets to the point where you need to call the veterinarian because the owner refuses then it probably won't end well and you will most likely lose a boarder which would be best for all.
This is never an easy thing to do and it can cause a lot of stress and possibly anger between the client and the manager but the horse is the most important part of this whole equation. If you are dealing with a sick horse and the owner refuses to call the veterinarian then you will need to be a leader and do what you need to do to get the horse the proper help. This part of your job and it is not fun at all but it is vitally important to your barn and the welfare of the horses.
There are many reasons why a person doesn't choose to call a veterinarian but as the barn manager you will be the one to make the call if you feel proper care is not being done for the horse. I encourage you to stand strong on your decisions regarding the horse and remember that it is not personal but part of your job to care for the horses at your barn. At the end of the day, it doesn't matter if the owner gets upset with you. It doesn't matter at all. What matters is that you did what was right to make sure the horse is not suffering.
This is truly one of the more difficult parts of barn management but if you ever have to deal with this kind of situation, you grow and learn from it in ways you never imagined. This is what will mold you into a great barn manager and you will never regret putting the horse first.
Thank you for the great question,