Dealing with the Unruly Horse

Even with sedatives, don’t start working on a difficult horse until the odds are in your favor

One of the toughest aspects of being a farrier is dealing with the occasional difficult and unruly horse. Not only can it make trimming and shoeing difficult, but it can result in liability nightmares when things
turn bad.

Control The Situation

When a veterinarian administers sedatives, tranquilizers or drugs to an unruly horse, the farrier still needs to fully understand how each of these products work, along with knowing the pros and cons of using each product.

Here’s a list of items I’ve put together to consider when working with difficult horses, especially when chemical restraint is required.

1. Remember that sedated horses are sedated — not paralyzed. Problems often occur when the horse handler quits paying attention and the horse reacts explosively to something that happens in the work area. It might be a real or imagined concern, but it’s usually a human or animal moving through the horse’s field of vision.

2. Horses should be sedated well before they get wound up and excited. Have them sedated in a quiet, safe work area where there are no distractions and areas where people can escape if something goes wrong.

Sedated horses sometimes appear to be asleep right before they bite. The same thing can happen at the back of the horse when they jump or kick out for no apparent reason.

3. To restrain an excited horse, I often mix together butorphanol with xylazine, or Dormosedan (detomidine) or Sedivet (romifidine) because it provides a more profound sedation with two…

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