Horses and Veterinarians: How to Get Along

“Veterinarians work under a great handicap when handling horses–almost everything the veterinarian does to a horse is either frightening or painful,” began Robert Miller, DVM. However, that doesn’t mean there’s no way for a v

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"Veterinarians work under a great handicap when handling horses–almost everything the veterinarian does to a horse is either frightening or painful," began Robert Miller, DVM. However, that doesn’t mean there’s no way for a veterinarian to work comfortably with a horse, he says. With a bit of patience, time, and understanding of the horse’s flighty nature, veterinarians and horse owners can easily train a horse to work with them rather than against them.

Miller discussed equine psychology and its application to veterinary practice at the 2009 American Association of Equine Practitioners Convention held Dec. 5-9 in Las Vegas, Nev. Beginning with his early equine experiences, Miller discussed the observations and training methods that have led him to become an authority on equine behavior, training, and imprinting.

The Equine Flight Response and How to Avoid It

"The horse’s primary means of survival is instantaneous flight when frightened by an unfamiliar sensory stimulus," Miller explained. "The stimulus may be visual, olfactory (smell), tactile (touch), auditory (sound), or a combination of any of these. Flightiness is the reason horses so often injure themselves or the people who handle them, and it is the reason horses may be perceived as stupid animals. To the contrary, flightiness has evolved to help the horse survive in a natural, open environment

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Written by:

Christy West has a BS in Equine Science from the University of Kentucky, and an MS in Agricultural Journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

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