Horse Twitches Eagle River AK
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Written by Melissa Cassutt
There are three basic types of restraint that can be effective during an emergency: location restraint, physical restraint and chemical restraint. Colorado veterinarian Ruth Sorensen discusses different techniques of twitching, a form of physical restraint that can help control your horse as you address an emergency.
In part two, Sorensen explains how to properly apply three different types of hobbles. Our series on emergency restraint techniques concludes with an article on different types of location restraint, chemical restraint, and special techniques to restrain a foal, mule or donkey.
There are two areas on a horse that can be effectively and humanely twitched—the neck and the nose. Vulnerable anatomy, such as ears, joints or genitals should never be used for restraint. Besides being illegal in some states, ear twitches can cause permanent damage and may actually provoke aggression in some horses.
There are a few situations in which a twitch should not be used. These include if a horse is:
• Thrashing. To ensure the safety of the horse and the handler, a horse that is thrashing (as is often the case with a bad colic) should not be twitched or restrained with any other technique.
• Hurt in the area to be twitched. This may sound obvious, but it still deserves to be noted. Do not apply a twitch to an injured area, such as a sunburned muzzle or a shoulder suffering from a laceration.
• Acting up. Twitching should be used only in an emergency, and only to restrain a horse long enough to prevent further injury as the situation is being handled. Twitching should never be used as a form of discipline.
Nose twitches can be applied by hand or with a piece of equipment.
As for twitching equipment, there are three basic types of nose twitches:
• Humane twitches. These metal clamps hinge at one end to squeeze the upper lip, and fasten at the opposite end with a snap. Though called humane twitches, Sorensen says they can end up causing injury by pinching or slipping loose.
• Rope-end twitches. These twitches are comprised of a long stick with a rope loop at one end. The loop is applied to the upper lip and twisted tight. As with the humane twitch, these can also have a problem with slipping.
• Chain-end twitches. These twitches are the same as a rope-end twitch, but instead of a rope loop, they have a chain loop, which provides more grip.
Whatever type of twitch you use, it’s important to stay active and aware when twitching a horse. If using your hands, “work the twitch” by pulsing your hands and massaging the area; if using a piece of equipment, gently and slowly roll the handle over and back, being careful not to loosen the twitch.
Note that ...