A campaign that shows owners quick and simple ways to teach horses to behave properly during veterinary procedures has been launched in Britain.
The British Equine Veterinary Association’s “Don’t Break Your Vet” campaign is designed to address what the organisation says is a serious problem: Equine vets have one of the highest injury risks of all civilian professions.
The campaign aims to help horse owners make life safer for their horses, themselves and their vets.
It comprises a series of short videos, featuring vet and equine behaviourist Gemma Pearson, providing quick and simple ways of teaching horses to be quiet, relaxed and safe for injections, clipping, worming, examinations and other veterinary procedures.
The campaign is supported by some of Britain’s leading riders and competition grooms.
A research paper recently published in the journal Equine Veterinary Education found that a typical equine vet may expect to suffer seven to eight work-related injuries that impede them from practicing, during a 30-year career.
This is far higher figure than other civilian occupations such as the construction industry, prison service and the fire brigade. Bruising, fractures and lacerations to the leg or the head were the most common injuries reported, with the main cause being a kick with a hind limb.
Nearly a quarter of these reported injuries required hospital admission and 7% resulted in loss of consciousness.
“Many accidents occur when vets are trying to work with horses who have learnt to avoid examination or treatment,” the association’s chief executive, David Mountford, said.
“This is dangerous for the vet and the handler but it also often results in a stressed horse and can increase the time and/or cost of reaching a diagnosis or treating an injury.
“Gemma’s amazing videos show how a little preparation can have a big impact on horse, owner and vet safety.”
David Catlow, the director of clinical services for the animal charity Blue Cross, said the videos would assist with behaviour training in horses to help them remain calm and manageable in all sorts of circumstances.
“Time spent on behaviour training of horses, using positive reinforcement methods such as these, is time well spent for everyone’s safety.”
He says Blue Cross invests a lot of time in behaviour training on the horses it rehomes – “and it works.”
“Vets should be able to focus on the horse’s injury or illness without worrying about their own, or others’, safety,” he says. “They will be better able to use the right tools and techniques for an accurate diagnosis and treatment if the horse is presented calmly and safely.”
The seven practical videos cover how to train and prepare your horse for:
- Easy injections
- Learning to stand still
- Calm clipping
- Leading and trotting up
- Happy Heads
- Clicker Training
- Worry-Free Worming