Malin, 25 from Sweden. This is my dressage journey with my two 5 year old SWB girls, Callie and Ella, in pictures and rants. I might do the occasional personal post too. Feel free to message me any thoughts or questions, I answer everything!
I don’t know! I hope not because at least for me it’s exactly as you say, the last resort when the vet has to have the horse completely still. To use it for training sounds like a bad idea so hopefully people stay away from that!
I’ve literally never needed one on a horse I have trained, so my gut reaction to them is that a well-trained horse that has always been treated appropriately shouldn’t need such a device. That being said, many of us who work with horses often find ourselves handling other people’s badly trained and/or mistreated horses, often with no opportunity to retrain these animals. When you must handle a horse that has been taught to behave dangerously, to give it medical attention for example, your first objective must be to keep yourself safe. Period.
However, because I’ve never used twitches, I don’t fully understand how they work and I don’t know what kind of permanent damage could be done of they were used improperly, etc, so I can’t really comment further on that specific device. I will say that when I see people using things like stud chains on animals that they have owned for years and have had AMPLE time to retrain so that they wouldn’t need such strong aids, I lose some respect for that person’s horsemanship. If you work for a vet and have to handle all kinds of mishandled animals, that’s one thing, but if you can’t handle your own animals that’s another story entirely.
It’s funny to get this ask now, because I was talking earlier today with someone who owns an excellent stallion who has become popular as a stud here in the US. She was saying that she couldn’t believe it when they brought him to a facility to collect sperm for AI, and the people who worked their wouldn’t let him off the trailer without a chain under his lip. She said her horse had never seen a chain, didn’t need a chain (and its true, he travels all over for shows and breed demos and is ridden alongside mares with no issues) but that was their policy. It got me thinking about Iceland, and I realized that I never saw a stud chain the whole time I was there. I’m sure some people there must use them, but there wasn’t a single stud chain at the large breeding farm where I worked, which has many stallions that were in handled before they turned 4 and then came in for training. We had at least 10 stallions in the stable, with mares stabled there too, walking down the aisles back and forth past each other all day and no one needed a chain. At all the breeding competitions and stallion shows and sport competitions we went to, I never saw a stud chain. I never saw them in the tack shops, either. Stallions don’t inherently need chains, but Americans are so conditioned to think they do that a chain is required at an AI collection facility. I imagine its similar with things like twitches.. Did the horse that’s being twitched even get a chance to stand still and behave before he was twitched, or was he twitched preventatively? How can horses learn how to behave appropriately if we come at them directly with stud chains and twitches and never stop to show the horse what we want, and give the horse a chance to react appropriately? Training takes time, and I think a lot of people are looking for shortcuts.
Anyway, that was long winded. Basically I think you do what you have to do to keep yourself safe, but every effort should be made to train the horses you have access to so that they don’t need things like twitches to stop them from inadvertently hurting you.
I can answer how it works! The thing is that when you tighten it, it will be very uncomfortable for the horse and while doesn’t hurt them per se it’s not a nice experience. What happens is that the hold on the nose will release endorphins which then makes the pulse go down and they get calmer.
I’m not fond of them and I wouldn’t use one unless every other option was impossible, but I can see why vets use them, sometimes it’s not possible to give sedatives (which is what they are a substitute for) and as you said, you have to be safe and as a vet you can’t retrain every horse in one vet appointment. I’ve only ever seen them used when you have to clean a wound and it’s absolutely necessary to have the horse stand still for it’s own sake, and no sedatives were on hand. For me it’s the last option and not something I would use regularly.
My friend just got her second baby and updated Facebook with “Player 4 has entered the game”.
Ooh and today I’m picking out the winner of my give away! Just need to work first…