How Vets can Treat ‘Untouchable’ Horses

Treating “untouchable” horses, such as some rodeo stock, is a rare but real challenge for veterinarians. Doing so requires experience, modified drug dosages, and creative restraint techniques to keep humans and horses safe during handling.
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How Vets can Treat
Treating “untouchable” horses is a rare but real challenge for veterinarians. | Photo:
When an equine veterinarian treats a patient, more than likely that horse is, at the very least, halter broke to lead and comfortable around humans.

But that’s not the case with some horses Stacey Tarr, DVM, of Wellington, Colo., deals with regularly. Tarr frequently treats unhandled young ranch prospects and rough stock rodeo horses, which are most often bareback or saddle bronc mounts (or unmounts, as the case might be) and usually receive very little handling and human interaction. That can make Tarr’s job as the treating veterinarian, well, challenging.

Tarr described his experience and methods working with “untouchable” horses at the 2013 American Association of Equine Practitioners’ Convention, held Dec. 7-11 in Nashville, Tenn. His presentation covered restraint and handling techniques and focused on human and horse safety. “Keep in mind that most of this is trial and error from my experience,” he said.

Calm Handling and the Right Medication Dosages

“Untouchable” horses are sensitive to external stimuli and noise, Tarr said, advising that treating veterinarians and their helpers remain “calm, quiet, and get the job done

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Written by:

Michelle Anderson is the former digital managing editor at The Horse. A lifelong horse owner, Anderson competes in dressage and enjoys trail riding. She’s a Washington State University graduate and holds a bachelor’s degree in communications with a minor in business administration and extensive coursework in animal sciences. She has worked in equine publishing since 1998. She currently lives with her husband on a small horse property in Central Oregon.

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