One of my more recent books on horsemanship is Handling the Equine Patient. I wrote it for veterinary students and for students of veterinary technology (the veterinary nursing profession).


Because I have seen so many students and, indeed young graduated practitioners, handling equine patients in a careless way. This is an invitation to injury, and, in fact, far too many such injuries occur. The insurance industry is well aware of the hazards, and their fees and policies reflect that awareness.

After all, the horse is a timid prey animal, which has survived fifty million years, while countless other species became extinct, long before humans appeared on earth to further such extinctions.

Flight is the horse’s primary defense. If the horse feels that flight is not possible, perhaps because it is cornered, or haltered, or otherwise inhibited, then fight is the alternative. Because of its size and physical strength, its teeth, and its firm hooves, a fighting horse can seriously damage or kill a human being.

Moreover, everything the professional veterinary person does to a horse is alarming, often painful and at least uncomfortable.

So, I wrote the book to reduce the likelihood of injury to veterinary personnel. Keep in mind that their career choice was almost always made because of a deep love for their animal patients.

To my surprise, the book has become more popular with ordinary horse owners than it is with veterinary personnel.


I suppose it is because everyone who handles horses has to sometimes play the role of doctor or nurse. Horses need bandages changed, eye ointments, medications, temperatures taken, feet cleaned, sheaths cleaned, udders handled, limbs manipulated, sprays and lotions applied, tails wrapped, hair clipped and many other potentially frightening procedures.

Also, the veterinary or vet. tech. student, after years of schooling, often feels competent, even though the schools are often remiss about adequately teaching optimum methods of handling animal patients, especially horses.

I am grateful that a few such schools are using my handling book as a required textbook. More of them should. If that policy prevented only one of the frequent injuries that veterinary professionals suffer, it would justify the book.

Meanwhile, if you handle horses, including minor, routine medical procedures, this book will help you. That’s why I wrote it.