Restraint Techniques

The first premise regarding restraint techniques for horses is the art of knowing when and when not to use them. The individual personalities of horses sometimes can make the decision to use restraint (and the particular type) more

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The first premise regarding restraint techniques for horses is the art of knowing when and when not to use them. The individual personalities of horses sometimes can make the decision to use restraint (and the particular type) more thought-provoking than “just do it.” It often is in the best interest of the horse if an attempt is made to determine if the negative reaction of the animal to whatever is being done is due to fear, stubbornness, or a bit of both. In my experience, if the animal is fearful, a more patient plan of action might be the best–especially when considering the long-term outcome. If a bit of coercion can make an unpleasant task/experience more manageable, that is probably the best way to go.







BARBARA D. LIVINGSTON


The application of restraint devices can place the handler in a dangerous position.


The flip side to coercion is that there are many times that some form of restraint is necessary. The main purpose of restraint techniques is to make an intractable horse safe to work around when you are attempting to do something to it that it doesn’t like. Restraint techniques are necessary for the safety of both the people working on horses and the horses themselves. There are many times that restraint is necessary to accomplish veterinary medical care safely and effectively (for example, the injection of drugs, the repair of lacerations, or the application of eye medication). Depending on the individual horse, there are numerous other instances in which some form of restraint might be necessary–ear trimming, body clipping, foot trimming, shoeing, loading on a trailer, etc. Again, for many of these tasks, the best approach might be the investment of time and a bit of coercion; but the individual horse and situation will be deterimining factors. For horses where re-training and coercion are appropriate, there are numerous books published by experts in the field of equine behavior and training that can be of benefit

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Written by:

Michael A. Ball, DVM, completed an internship in medicine and surgery and an internship in anesthesia at the University of Georgia in 1994, a residency in internal medicine, and graduate work in pharmacology at Cornell University in 1997, and was on staff at Cornell before starting Early Winter Equine Medicine & Surgery located in Ithaca, New York. He was an FEI veterinarian and worked internationally with the United States Equestrian Team. He died in 2014.

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