The British Equine Veterinary association has launched 'Hold Your Horses', a free-to-members online CPD course presented by Gemma Pearson RCVS Specialist in Veterinary Behavioural Medicine (Equine), to help equine vets and clients minimise patient stress.  

Research published in EVE by Pearson in 2020 reported that 95% of equine vets work with “difficult” horses on at least a monthly basis, and that 81% of them had sustained at least one injury in the last 5 years.

The research also indicated that some vets overestimate their understanding of equine learning theory.

The BEVA says developing an extended understanding of how horses learn can make clinical care less stressful, and that reduced patient stress also improves workplace safety, which is important in a role that has been identified as one of the most dangerous civilian professions. 

Gemma said: “Horses have limited cognitive skills and so we should try to better understand what motivates and reinforces unwanted behaviours rather than assuming the horse is being wilfully or maliciously disobedient.

“To do this we need to appreciate how horses learn. 

"Better horse handling leads to happier horses, and this means happier vets and nurses and owners/clients with the ultimate knock on of better safety, better job satisfaction and better retention in the profession.”

The training sessions include: 

  • Injury rates
  • How horses learn
  • How to read emotions and body language
  • Restraint during veterinary care
  • Anthrozoology (the study of animal and human interactions and how else, beyond learning theory, we impact horses’ behaviours)
  • Psychopharmaceuticals

Gemma added: “One of the biggest push backs I get from people that haven’t started to develop low stress vet care as a routine is that they haven’t got time. But those who do use it say that it saves them time and keeps them safer, this also brings obvious commercial benefit to the practice - so what’s not to like?” 

PS: Whilst you're here, take a moment to see our latest job opportunities for vets.