Dr. Robert Miller offers tips on handling horses

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Legendary practitioner shares wisdom from six decades of practice.

When Dr. Robert M. Miller says the equine patient is the most dangerous of all, he should know. After nearly six decades in veterinary medicine, he's treated everything from elephants to whales, and he still concludes that horses wreak the most havoc.

In what Dr. Miller calls the “revolutionary horsemanship” that has developed in recent years, veterinarians are becoming more adept at handling equine patients in a safer, more effective way. In his talk, “Equine psychology and its application to veterinary practice,” taking place at 8 a.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 9, at the AAEP Convention in Las Vegas, Dr. Miller will highlight the following:

Why horses are dangerous. “In my career, I've walked into lions' cages, trained them, vaccinated them, but still, more veterinarians are injured and even killed by horses than by any other patient,” Dr. Miller says. With malpractice insurance fees higher for equine veterinarians than any other in the field, steps can be taken to reduce this danger.

Why horses are expensive. Another big issue is the damage horses do to such costly equipment as digital radiographs, endoscopes, and ultrasound machines.

How practitioners can protect patients. Lastly, veterinarians need to focus on reducing injuries to the horses themselves. These fear-based injuries often can be prevented.

“If I approached horses with the method I learned half a century ago in school, that would damage my reputation as well as the image of the profession-and it isn't beneficial to the horses, our practices, and others around us,” Dr. Miller says. “We need to slow down, reassure the horse, and use a more caring approach. Handling horses is an art and a science, and I'll share a little about how helping clients train newborn foals will tremendously change your lifestyle, reduce stress, and change horses' attitudes at birth.”

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