Items

Forums
Twitching a Horse
 By Winniefield Park   •   18th Nov 2014   •   6,497 views   •   2 comments


Twitching a horse is a common practice when itís important that the horse be absolutely still for something like hoof trimming, vaccinations, mane pulling and doctoring minor wounds. Itís often used instead of an injected tranquilizer to prevent a horse from struggling for a brief procedure.

Horses can be twitched a few different ways. Skin twitching is simply grabbing a handful of loose skin on the neck and twisting it slightly. Ear twitching involves either squeezing and twisting an ear slightly with your hand, or using a device that will do the same. The same device, or your hand can be used to apply a nose twitch, when the skin below the nostrils is gathered and squeezed.

Twitches come in different varieties. A rope twitch is a loop of heavy rope attached to the end of a wooden handle about two feet long. A chain twitch is similar, but uses a loop of chain instead of rope. A humane twitch is somewhat like a thick set of tweezers or pincers made of light metal. A handler needs to hold onto the rope and chain twitch in order for it to remain in place, but the humane twitche can be clamped closed so that it doesnít have to be held. Another type of twitch looks like a large square belt buckle, with a thumbscrew that tightens it up.

We donít really know why and how twitches work. Itís commonly thought that the pain experienced by the horse while twitched causes the body to release endorphins which in turn cause the horse to calm down. Studies have demonstrated that when a twitch is applied, the endorphins are released. But, endorphins are often released during any time of stress or pain and the horseís reactions, even though their brain is flooded with this calming hormone, can be quite the opposite of calm.

Some people believe the nose twitch in particular activates an acupuncture point on the horseís nose that calms the horse, again through the release of endorphins. Another theory is that the twitch acts as a distraction. The pain inflicted by the twitch distracts the horse from whatever procedure it would normally object to.

Yet another theory is that the twitch activates a horseís freeze response - something called tonic immobility. When a horse gets into a situation where it canít flee or fight, it freezes. This is a basic instinct that tells it to stand still so a predatorís eyes, which are more attuned to a moving than a still object, will not see it. The pain of the twitch may send the horse into this freeze response, that not only makes it immobile, but more insensitive to pain.

Twitching doesnít work for very long. On some horses, especially those that know to be afraid of the twitch, it wonít work at all. Some horses get very dopey once twitched, but once a horse is twitched, the calm state will only last about ten to fifteen minutes. If the twitch is removed before the endorphin flow stops, all should be well. But exceed the time, and the horse may Ďblow the twitchí, reacting violently. You must learn to use a twitch properly, if at all, because thereís still potential for horse and human injury when one is used.

So what do you think of twitching? What theory sounds most plausible to you? And is it cruel, or a useful tool?

--
http://www.doctorramey.com/the-twitch-or-youre-going-to-do-what-to-my-horse/
http://www.j-evs.com/article/S0737-0806(06)81015-4/abstract
http://www1.agric.gov.ab.ca/$department/deptdocs.nsf/all/hrs6970
Horse News More In This Category:  General      Horse News More From This Author:  Winniefield Park
Valkyrie  MOD 
I work with TB yearlings who can be very dangerous when frightened, so it's common practise for us to "grab some skin" if we're struggling to control one of them. We grab a handful of loose skin just in front of the shoulder and roll it and squeeze. It's not 100% effective but works well enough to get the rug on a scared horse, or get the bridle on a headshy one etc.

Lip twitching is a last resort. We'd rather use the skin, and even that is only if we are having a hard time controlling them. We'd rather teach them to behave without needing to grab skin or use a twitch. But sometimes it's necessary.
  Nov 19, 2014  •  7,009 views
 
Caledon98  
We twitch our minis to clip them in some parts. They all have been 100% handled everywhere but really hate it, especially ears, have never met a horse who likes it.
I would rather twitch and know they're standing calmly than risk injury, any day. I would also rather twitch than sedate, it's alot safer.
  Nov 19, 2014  •  6,990 views
 More News by Winniefield Park
Horse Owners Consider Fire Safety
14th Sep 2019   |   General   |   Winniefield Park
Animal activists would like to see all barns installed with overhead sprinkler systems and want to see it part of the building code. A clothing designer has come up with another idea for horses stabled and outdoors in pastures. Bl ...
Wild Horses Weather Hurricane Dorian Well
8th Sep 2019   |   General   |   Winniefield Park
As Hurricane Dorian batters the U.S. eastern seaboard, many people worry about the safety of not only their own animals, but wildlife as well. But, says the Corolla Horse Fund, a protection group that protects a small herd of fera ...
Wild and Free Sable Island Ponies
5th Sep 2019   |   General   |   Winniefield Park
Thereís a scientist out there that is delighted to find a dead horse. Not that sheís excited that the horse is dead. That is probably as emotionally difficult for her as any of us. But, this scientist, as part of a research team, ...
Analyze Your Seat In This Horse Simulator
2nd Sep 2019   |   General   |   Winniefield Park
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to ride a horse simulator? Do you think it would give you the same experience as riding a real horse, or help you increase your riding skills? Equestrian Jesse Derent did too. Derent me ...
70 Year Old Wins Mongol Derby 600 Mile Horse Race
24th Aug 2019   |   General   |   Winniefield Park
Imagine spending twelve hours on horseback traversing some of the roughest terrain on earth, through largely uninhabited lands. Thatís exactly what most of the participants in the Mongol Derby do. The race, which is meant to repli ...
The White Sands Horse Rescue Operation
19th Aug 2019   |   General   |   Winniefield Park
25 years ago, Dr. Don Hoglund led a roundup that saved the lives of about 1800 wild horses. Hoglund is best known for his wild horse training methods and prison inmate programs. But, he claims, the highlight of his career is the r ...
U.S. Olympic Dressage Rider Charged with Attempted Murder
18th Aug 2019   |   General   |   Winniefield Park
A U.S. Olympic dressage rider has been charged with attempted murder. Michael Barisone, who rode with the the U.S. team in the 2012 Beijing Olympics shot, 38 year old equestrian Lauren Kanarek. Kanarek and her fiance were tenants ...
Capture Every Hoofbeat with Equilab Equestrian Tracking
17th Aug 2019   |   General   |   Winniefield Park
With Equilab tracking itís possible to watch the progress of a horse and rider in real time, and see at what speed they are traveling. The maps can be viewed much like Google maps, either in satellite or map view. At the end of a ...
  View All News by Winniefield Park
 
©2002 - 2019   PonyBox LLC Create Account Terms & Conditions Privacy Contact Us
111 Members Online 251,325 Registered Members 2,609 News Articles 11,016,871 Unique News Article Views 256,919,315 Website Views