Students earning their vet tech degrees at Globe University-Moorhead got inside a horse’s head recently at the Brady Equestrian Center. Understanding how a horse thinks is important in the veterinary technician role, so equine instructor Nikki Bailey introduced her students to some valuable hands-on learning to give them a leg up on their future careers.
Horses are incredibly sensitive to body language, so students learned how to approach horses in various situations—such as hoof exams, wellness checkups, and for illnesses and injuries—without spooking them. The hands-on experience built students’ confidence in their ability to handle a horse, something that cannot be learning from a textbook.
At the stable, the students started with Shaq, one of the main training horses, who is a very tall, somewhat intimidating stallion. With safety being a priority, students learned to walk into an enclosed stall, which can be dangerous should the horse decide to rear up or kick in such a tiny space. By learning a few techniques on how to enter the stall, block the entry and how to approach the horse, students were able to practice until they gained confidence.
Student Matt Keppers had very limited previous experience with horses. “I maybe rode one as a kid in a carnival or something like that, so I’ve never realy been around them,” he said.
By the time the training session was over, however, Matt and Shaq were very confident around each other.
Students continued their learning with practical application of how to harness a horse. The students completed the usual lessons in haltering, leading, checking gait during a gallop, and administering medication. Students also learned restraint techniques and how to exam teeth. Working in the stalls, pens and the ring, students practiced adjusting their work style to the particular circumstance and physical environment. They had the opportunity to work with various horses to experience how they react differently.
Ending on a particuarly rewarding note, the vet tech students worked with a pair of 2-week-old foals. They learned that horse moms are not as protective as so many other moms in nature, so restraining a foal with the mother in the stall can be very simple. Students were able to get in the stall to practice techniques they may need on the job.