Horse-Handling Skills Helps Keep Equine Vets Safe

Being a large-animal veterinarian is fraught with danger—vets are often placed in precarious positions where they can be kicked, bitten or worse by the patients they’re trying to help. It’s estimated that about 80 percent of equine vets have suffered injuries from a difficult horse and 37 percent of those injured have had ongoing pain or a disability from the injury.

It’s difficult enough to entice vet students to consider large animal practices; the risk of injury is just another strike against the profession. Gemma Pearson, Melanie Connor, John Keen, Richard Reardon, and Natalie Waran, all students at the University of Edinburgh’s Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, are working to create a program to teach vet students horse-handling methods that are based on equine learning theory. It’s hoped that this program will reduce the number of vets who don’t consider large-animal work or who leave the profession early.

The research team tested the effects of a single lecture that focused on practical learning theory tips for equine vets on pre-final-year vet students. The 45-minute lecture focused on how horses learned; videos were shown that demonstrated how to apply that theory to equine patients.

Examples shown included overshadowing, where the horse is asked to do a task it knows (like stepping backward) to draw attention away from the action the vet is performing, like administering a shot. Using negative reinforcement to get a horse to enter stocks by lightly tapping him with a whip, and stopping as soon as he took a step forward was also included in the lecture .

Students watched videos of “difficult” horses both before and after the lecture; they were also asked questions. After the lecture, the students were more likely to suggest learning theory-based solutions on how to hand the horse. The vet students also indicated that they had greater confidence in their horse-handling skills after the lecture.

The study group concluded that just one lecture had the potential to positively alter students’ perception of how to handle “difficult” horses; it may also influence how they deal with difficult horses, thus creating a safer work environment.

The researchers went on to note that horse owners play a key role in keeping vets safe; by teaching their horses to stand still unless asked to move, and to respond to leadrope cues to go forward or backward, they can help veterinarians remain safe on the job.

Read more at Horses and People.

The post Horse-Handling Skills Helps Keep Equine Vets Safe appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

DYFD Winter - 300x90

Comments are closed.