What Happened To Horsemanship'

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I just read about a case where a show horse was sedated for a farrier and was hanging on the crossties with so much pressure from the halter that the facial nerve on both sides was paralyzed.

Maybe my age (or something else) is showing, but does anyone else see something very wrong with this scenario' Farrier work is an inherent, basic part of any horse's routine. Teaching the horse to stand quietly and cooperatively offer his/her legs for the farrier should be part of core ground manners.

Certainly a show horse should have received this basic training. it's hard to imagine a horse that is ?crazy? enough to need very heavy sedation for shoeing but is otherwise appropriate for the show ring. Then again, maybe the horse gets chemical help for that, too.

Years ago, long before the popular use of power floats, a good dentist would go into the stall with the horse, alone, clip on a lead shank but let it hang, and quietly go about floating the teeth with no objection from the horse. No restraint. No drugs. No assistants. No mouth gag. No cross-ties. This is also how I was taught to float teeth. Even with bungling beginners, the horses by and large were cooperative. These were not just elderly pasture pets either. Racehorses were also done this way.

Some of the blame rests with veterinary schools. When I was being trained, we never sedated this heavily, not even when sewing up extensive wounds. Today, there are more powerful sedatives available with less risk of actually making the horse fall down. Even so, the emphasis on sedating is different. I'm not sure where it is coming from.

Safety and insurance rates might be part of it, but sedating the horse out of their mind is not the only solution. Respect for the power of a horse, understanding horses and how to handle them should still be parts of the equation.

For routine things like shoeing, though, I believe the blame rests squarely with owners and trainers. A horse that cannot be made to behave for something this simple and noninvasive is going to be dangerous under any circumstances where the animal decides he/she doesn't want to cooperate.

Horse Journal

and I have always promote ?back to the basics.? it's high time for less reliance on drugs and more emphasis on basic good horsemanship.