Join Date: May 2009
Location: Lakeland, Florida
I have used all of those and a lip cord. It depends on the situation and the horse. My horses learn to give to pressure and drop their heads with poll pressure. If I am messing with the head I will sometimes use the ear like a handle and I relax my grip as soon as they relax. If I really need that head still and down I will fold the ear and squeeze - trick is to relax the squeezing when they are still, hold the ear in warning/reminder, and increase pressure if they start wiggling again with relaxing again as soon as still.
If I need my hands free and I am by myself I will use a lip cord. Take a hay string and tie it to one ring on the side of the halter, put it between the upper lip and the gum, run it through the ring on the other side of the halter. If it is long enough and I am close enough, I will simply hold the end and apply pressure as needed (say if I am giving shots or banding manes). If I need to let go, I tie it to the halter with enough pressure that it is snug, but not turning the whole gum white or cutting into the skin. I don't leave it long - 2 minutes tops. If I need it longer, I do my task in spurts.
My basic training on a horse is to give to pressure - I will release pressure as soon as they give and relax. Pressure can be physical restraint, push, tap or even just my presence. Mine get so attuned to what I expect from them that I don't always have to lay hands on them, I just shift my stance and maybe say something with a tone that backs up what is going on.
As a vet tech, I have run into situations where you don't have the luxury or time to of work off of the training or even knowing what some horses know and respond to. Then you just have to go off of gut feeling of what you can do and use. Some horses will stand still with you firmly patting them right between the eyes (works on dogs except you do the top of the head), others you need a twitch device of some sort. If that doesn't work, then the boss cranks out the chemical restraints :)
My horses have done so well on dac that I became a rep. Stand behind 'em 110%.