Twitch? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 25 Old 07-20-2010, 04:16 AM Thread Starter
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Twitch?

Where do you stand on the twitch? I don't like to use it if I can help it at all, but sometimes I have a difficult horse who just needs his lip grabbed once in a while. Granted I'm not actually using the twitch tool itself, but I'm doing the same basic concept.

I.e, I had a horse that would bite when you cut the bridlepath. We let it grow into a Mohawk without cutting it because he wasn't showing, but ehh it was time fir the ciruit he would need it cut so I got a step ladder and did it. He continuously true to bite me so I grabbed his lip an made him stand. He had respect after that.

So I want opinions on both the quick lip grab and the twitch itself. ;)
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post #2 of 25 Old 07-20-2010, 05:25 AM
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I've only used an actual twitch once. Every other time I just grab the lip. It's usually when I'm at my wits end and can't stand whatever it it they're doing anymore after nothing else works.
It's not something that I vito or anything. A friend used to have a horse that was THAT bad with getting his feet done it was spend ages with him with a twitch or lip strap thing they use on race horses and have about a billion people on hand to help out, or drug him up to his eyeballs so he lets you trim him.
But at the same time, it's not something I enjoy using/doing and try to avoid it as much as I can. I'd rather just yell at them or something. It's just a last resort for me.
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post #3 of 25 Old 07-20-2010, 07:20 AM
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I don't like the twitch but the hand grab for a quick "bite" back I think is ok. I think a 1000 pound horse can easily get away from a hand twist if he wanted. If a horse is biting at another horse they know they might get bit back.
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post #4 of 25 Old 07-20-2010, 10:01 AM
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I'd pick a twitch over tranquilizer in any situation where there was a decision between the two.
But then again, a lady on our local show circuit twitched a horse and he managed to get the twitch away from her, and it was clamped around his nose, and he smashed her in the face with the handle and broke all the bones in her cheek & eye.

I've seen a lot of local Standardbred trainers use the twitch to drag a horse on a trailer though, which I think is outrageous.

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post #5 of 25 Old 07-20-2010, 10:44 AM
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The twitch has a place. I feel that place is in emergency situations, or situations where you want to make doubly sure the horse is going to stay relaxed.

We've used one a few times for veterinary reasons. One was an "rectal exam" on a colicking horse... another was while we were waiting on the vet after a horse had totally ripped open a leg... another was prior to gelding an unhandled colt (he had been haltered the first time the day before and with one look at the vet decided "NO WAY") so that the vet could get close enough, safely and calmly to give him the sedative.

I do disagree with their use for training purposes. In my mind they promote a "false relaxation"... it's a drug effect rather than acceptance, so I don't believe they are most effective as a training tool - but they certainly have their place with horses... and are, really, far kinder than some other ways to immobilize a horse.
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post #6 of 25 Old 07-20-2010, 11:17 AM
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Personally, I prefer not to use them unless for medical procedures. I generally prefer to desensitize a horse to a thing 'it hates' if its possible (even if it takes a while) then twitch it but sometimes when vets are passing naso-gastric tubes, they have to twitch the horse if its being difficult in order to 1) pass the tube correctly and 2) pass the tube without causing significant damage to the nose/nasal turbinates etc.
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post #7 of 25 Old 07-20-2010, 11:47 AM
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The use of a twitch for controlling a horse in a medical or emergency type situation is perfectly acceptable. As an example, I had to twitch a horse recently to administer eye drops.

The use of a twitch for training purposes or discipline is totally incorrect and could border on abuse.

I'm not arguing with you, I'm just explaining why I'm right.

Nothing sucks more than that moment during an argument when you realize you're wrong.


It's not always what you say but what they hear.
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post #8 of 25 Old 07-20-2010, 11:50 AM
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I like the distinction Unicorn draws - it's not a training tool, it's a restraint device for emergency situations. I have no problem twitching a horse for treatment, but would prefer a desensitizing approach for just about anything else.

I also find a hand twitch, or grabbing a fold of skin over the shoulder blade to be useful when you only need them still for a moment or two.

The mistake I see a lot of handlers make is to wait until they've really got a fight on their hands before applying the twitch; and then it's not terribly effective. I'd much rather apply the twitch when the horse is calm and not actively resisting.

Kmacdougal, dragging a horse on a trailer by a twitch is horrible! I can't imagine the thinking. Most horses lock up when twitched, which is sort of the point - twitching them and then dragging them on a trailer makes not sense.
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post #9 of 25 Old 07-20-2010, 02:12 PM
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I agree that a twitch is something to use in an emergency situation and really isnt a training or persuasion tool. That being said, I would twitch my horse if he needed it.

Last months Western Horseman had a really great article about the different types of twitches (20+years with horses...didn't know there was anything other than the lip!) and how the shoulder twitch can be just as effective without all the headshy.


Maura, I was going to mention the shoulder/neck twitch but you beat me to it!
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post #10 of 25 Old 07-20-2010, 02:32 PM
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my moms horse when the vet came and had to come cut some proud flesh off her foot, he gave her some ace, and she still wouldn't hold still (despite having to be held up by several people because she was drugged) he then twitched her so he could cut it and she STILL fought against it. So we got out a stud chain and put it under her upper lip and shen then stood still with 0 fight. All in al I find the twitch a bit cruel if used to harshly like i've seen it but I definitely use the lip grab when needed! But I find the stud chain a bit more effective (in my moms horses who is the only one who ever needed a twitch) than the twitch but for every horse different methods will be needed.


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