Best Practices for Moving Down Horses

Whether they’re trapped, cast, or dead, down horses can be both difficult and dangerous to move. Here’s how to stay safe.
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Down Horses
Wear proper protective equipment, especially a helmet, when handling a recumbent horse, and , if possible, approach the animal dorsally (from its back). | Photo: Courtesy Dr. Rebecca Gimenez

Whether they’re trapped, cast, or dead, down horses can be both difficult and dangerous to move.

“It’s very frustrating to move a large animal that’s not cooperating with you,” said Rebecca Gimenez, PhD, president of Technical Large Animal Emergency Rescue Inc., in Macon, Georgia.

Veterinarians arriving on the scene of a trailer accident or a cast geriatric horse have the experience and skills to lead the rescue effort and keep both humans and horse out of danger. For guidance in these scenarios, Gimenez presented ways vets can manipulate (move or reposition) down horses safely and effectively at the 2017 American Association of Equine Practitioners convention, held Nov. 17-21 in San Antonio, Texas

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Written by:

Alexandra Beckstett, a native of Houston, Texas, is a lifelong horse owner who has shown successfully on the national hunter/jumper circuit and dabbled in hunter breeding. After graduating from Duke University, she joined Blood-Horse Publications as assistant editor of its book division, Eclipse Press, before joining The Horse. She was the managing editor of The Horse for nearly 14 years and is now editorial director of EquiManagement and My New Horse, sister publications of The Horse.

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