UK Study on Veterinarian Handling of Difficult Horses

A UK study found that nearly half of veterinarians never received education on how horses learn in order to be able to better work with difficult animals.

Researchers found that 95% of equine veterinarians reported working with difficult horses on at least a monthly basis, resulting in 81% of them sustaining at least one injury in the last 5 years. iStock/A. Taiga

A UK study looked to document the “challenges equine veterinarians faced when working with difficult horses and define their approaches to managing them, including their understanding of the processes through which horses learn.” This open access articles was titled “Difficult Horses—Prevalence, Approaches to Management of and Understanding of How They Develop by Equine Veterinarians.” It was published in the journal Equine Veterinary Education from the British Equine Veterinary Association (BEVA) in July 2020. The authors were all from the University of Edinburgh—G. Pearson, R. Reardon, J. Keen and N. Wran.

Researchers found that 95% of equine veterinarians reported working with difficult horses on at least a monthly basis, resulting in 81% of them sustaining at least one injury in the last 5 years.

The researchers noted that the most popular methods for veterinarians to deal with unwanted behaviors of equine patients were physical and chemical restraint. “46% of those surveyed had never received any tuition on the processes through which horses learn,” noted the study. “Despite 79% believing they had at least a moderate understanding of equine learning theory, they performed poorly when tested, with only 10% able to get at least five out of six questions correct.”

You can access this open-access article from the online library at wiley.com.

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