Don't break your vet

Equine vets have one of the highest injury risks of all civilian professions; to help address this serious issue, the British Equine Veterinary Association (BEVA) has launched a campaign to help horse owners make life safer for their horses, themselves and their vets. BEVA have shared some of the most common problems vets and owners face and how you can help make a visit from the vet a calmer and safer experience for everyone!

Easy injections 

  • Explore using positive reinforcement such as clicker training to help prepare your horse for injections.
  • The clicker is important because it times the correct response - the horse hears the click and is then rewarded with a small treat for good behaviour.
  • Tell your vet if your horse is needle shy and share with them how you have been working to improve it.

Learning to stand still 

  • Find out how you can train your horse to stand still and make them feel calm for a variety of veterinary and other procedures. 
  • There is an association between a horse’s adrenaline levels and how fast their feet are moving, so if you can teach them to stand still it will help to create calmness. 
  • A short two-minute session every day will help teach your horse to stand still.

Calm clipping 

  • Training horses to stand still when they hear clippers will make them less anxious. 
  • Slowly introduce clippers and run the back of the clippers over the horse's body at least three times before clipping them.  
  • If a horse is moving around or fidgeting quite a lot it is a good indication that you need to slow the training down. 

Leading and trotting up 

  • You can teach your horse to respond to pressure from the lead rope to improve how your horse leads and trots up.  
  • When you lead horses you want them to be in a neutral position.
  • Vets often find that horses are unprepared to be trotted up. Practice with your horse so that your horse will trot away and back in a straight line. 

Happy heads 

  • Explore how clicker training can be used to teach horses not to move their heads away. 
  • Horse owners can use clicker training at home in preparation for when vets come. You can then work with the vets to do the same techniques before examining the horse. 
  • Start off with something the horse can cope with and make it harder and harder each time.

How clicker training can help

  • Clicker training can be used so that you can tell horses how they will get food. 
  • The clicker will teach the horse that when he moves away from you they are rewarded with food, not when he comes towards you.
  • If you do this for five minutes every week you will get to the stage where the horse waits for the food, even if it is in your hand.

Worry-free worming 

  • Horses learn from release of pressure, so teach your horse that if you put the syringe on their body and they stand still the syringe will go away. 
  • Don’t try and put the syringe in the horse’s mouth straight away, build up to this as the horse becomes less anxious.