Horse workshop trains Equine Health & Performance staff

Equitation Science workshop - Dr McLean and staff

A visit to the vet is often a foreign and stressful event for horses and their owners. As such, the staff at the EH&PC are interested in learning how to handle and interact with our patients in a more ethical and safe manner, that minimises stress to horses and their owners.

On Friday 26th of July staff from the Equine Health & Performance Centre (EH&PC) & Teaching Unit were fortunate enough to participate in an Equitation Science workshop, with special guest Dr Andrew McLean from Equitation Science International. Dr McLean has developed the first accredited training centre for Equitation Science. Equitation Science is the application of scientific methods to assess the welfare of horses undergoing training. The aim of Equitation Science is to change the traditional methods of horse training to a clear, ethical, systematic approach and to improve horse-human interactions.

Dr McLean started the day by explaining his background with horses and other species leading him to pursue research in equine behaviour. In particular how horses learn, applying this to training horses and welfare.

The afternoon session focused on practical handling demonstrations including

  • float loading with transferable techniques for crush loading 
  • techniques to achieve light cues for leading
  • teaching horses to ‘park’ 
  • achieving better control of horses by being able to reliably move their legs backwards and forwards 
  • use of lowered head position and strategic scratching to increase relaxation and reduce stress in the horse
  • methods for desensitisation to minimise stress during application of veterinary treatments such as eye medication, oral medications, injecting needle shy horses
  • desensitising to aversive stimuli such as clippers
  • targeted clicker training

The workshop provided staff with the opportunity to discuss scenarios and to ask Dr McLean questions to improve handling and interaction with our patients. In turn will result in safer, better outcomes for horses that present as outpatients, are hospitalised for treatment as well as horses within The University teaching herd, who are used to assist with student education. 

Tagged in Horses, Roseworthy Veterinary Hospital