December 2020 - Courses for Horses
Written by by Alice Chan
Wednesday, 02 December 2020 03:06

training

The importance of staying curious.

by Alice Chan

As a relatively new horse-owner—three years and counting—I knew early on in the journey that there was an entire library of equine knowledge that I’d likely never acquire, but I sure was going to try. On my quest to becoming better informed, I’ve attended many a riding clinic, have consistently had my horses in training, and exhausted my poor vets’ (yes, plural) patience with my never-ending questions.

 


Imagine my delight when one of our wonderful vets, Dr Carrie Schlachter, together with veterinary colleagues from her newly established practice, Animals In Motion, announced she would be hosting a four-week-long educational series entitled: The Horse Course. Totaling 12 hours, the course includes lectures and hands-on experience with AIM’s herd of horses who are there expressly to support the practice’s teaching efforts.

 

We recently moved our two horses home to live with us, so acquiring some basic health management techniques seemed like a good idea. The course covered fundamentals such as taking vitals, spotting colic, better understanding nutrition, recognizing lameness, worming and vaccinations.

Each class starts with a detailed lecture, with plenty of opportunities for Q&A with the presenting veterinary, and lots of laughs along the way. I discovered that most of my equine medical knowledge dates from the 1950s (don’t ask me why). Once our classroom time was done, we would head on over to the barn to apply what we learned. If you haven’t figured out how to listen to a horse’s heartbeat, here’s your chance - and spoiler alert, it’s not quite as easy to find the right spot as you’d think.

Likewise, we learned how to apply standing wraps correctly, as well as six-layered pressure bandages in the event of an injury. And we heard that today, a broken leg isn’t necessarily a death sentence, and you may want to use drain pipe material as a temporary splint in the event of a nasty break.

We became skilled at identifying common parasites, and how to avoid picking them up (e.g. at shared water troughs and grazing spots at trailheads and showgrounds) and were invited to bring in a poop sample which we then analyzed under a microscope to assess for parasites and how to count them.

During the nutrition class we were taught how to read the labels on feed bags, as well as understanding the importance of a forage-heavy diet. We were shown how to assess a horse’s body condition score—which we then practiced on the AIM herd. Looks can often be deceiving: a large barrel doesn’t necessarily mean the horse is carrying fat, and vice versa.

Perhaps my favorite class was about lameness, having had all too many experiences. We got to evaluate a number of videos of different horses to see if we could spot where the lameness was originating from, and heard about the preventative and curative treatment options that are available for the modern sport horse.

All in all, this was a highly educational and engaging experience and I look forward to taking the Horse Course 2 in the future.

If you’d like to attend the next Horse Course, the clinic’s Wednesday night lectures, you can visit the website below. The in-person classes take place in Penngrove, Sonoma County, and there are often opportunities to join remotely.

For more information, visit www.animalsinmotionvet.com.