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VSPN CE Course TECH229-0713: Equine Handling, Restraint, and Behavior


INSTRUCTOR(S): Shelley Shopsowitz, RVT, BA and Chris Upchurch, AS
COURSE OPEN: July 5-August 14, 2013
REAL TIME SESSIONS (RTS): Sundays, July 14, 21, 28, and August 4, 2013; 9:00pm-10:30pm ET (USA)
Course RTS Times in Your Area: World Clock Converter

Practice Sessions: In order to prepare you for a successful experience in your CE course, we request you attend a Practice Session prior to the first Real Time Session. Please arrive promptly at the start time; each Practice Session is up to 1 hour in length. For more information, please visit the CE Practice Area.

Level and Prerequisites: This basic level course is for all levels of veterinary staff interested in the fundamentals of equine handling, restraint, and behavior and how they intertwine.
VSPN CE Course: This course is RACE approved for veterinary technicians only.

Course Description:
Whether it is 1500 pounds or 700 kilos of temperamental show horse or a much smaller child's pony, these loyal, often extremely valuable, but potentially dangerous animals require a unique sense of understanding and attention to behavior for safe and effective handling. In this course, we will address the topic of inherent equine behavior, explore the importance of body language of the equine and the handler, the equine senses and how they affect behavior, as well as consider a variety of handling techniques and training theories. Handling equines for a multitude of purposes will be reviewed including restraining for specific veterinary procedures. Restraint devices used in practice and in the field will be reviewed as we cover safety to the handler and to the animal throughout the course. Videos of several techniques will be incorporated to enhance the learning process.

This course will consist of four (4) ninety (90) minute Real Time Session, supplemental library materials, interactive message board discussions, and a mandatory end-of-course test. Successful completion (scoring 80% or better) on the end-of-course test is required to be considered for a course certificate of completion.

Upon completion of this course, the participant should be able to

Course Materials: Course materials will be available in the course library prior to each Real Time Session.

Required Textbook(s): There is no required textbook for this course.
Recommended Textbook(s): Suggested references will be included within the course library.

About the Instructors: In addition to being a Registered Veterinary Technician, Shelley Shopsowitz has had a special interest in equines for over 40 years. Shelley has taken a wide variety of equine nutrition and behavior courses and completed the Equine Science Certificate at Equine Guelph, University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada. She is also the owner/operator of an equine consulting service providing owners and caretakers with information on the care and feeding of equines. Shelley is currently pursuing her Master's degree in Equine Science at the University of Edinburgh. Chris Upchurch has been involved in the handling of equines for over 40 years including client service/education and veterinary assisting in a mixed animal veterinary practice, experience with unwanted/rescued equines and equine breeding barns, and hosting a variety of VSPN Equine Behavior Rounds sessions. She currently manages an equine boarding facility and cares for and shows 5 horses. She has completed courses in a variety of equine behavior, disease, and nutrition, and holds a FEMA certificate of completion in Animals in Disasters: Community Planning. Chris is pursuing a Bachelor's of Science degree in Equine Science and plans to continue with a graduate degree in Animal Psychology.

Course Outline:
Week 1: (Real Time Session July 14): Equine Behavior
Lecturer: Shelley Shopsowitz, RVT, BA
Content: We will look at innate equine behavior and how it affects human/equine interactions. A variety of equine handling techniques including the concept of "natural horsemanship" and how these various techniques can be considered in our dealings with horses in the equine veterinary practice setting will be covered.

Week 2: (Real Time Session July 21): Equine Behavior
Lecturer: Chris Upchurch, AS
Content: In the second session the review of behavior will expand to interpret the equines' body language to predict behavior (including how the handler's body language can affect the horse). The five senses and how they affect a horses reaction to its environment will be reviewed and discussed. We will evaluate how nutrition can change behavior. Finally, we will briefly explore how a horse learns and differentiate between the terms behavior and training and begin the discussion of when one can be used to benefit the outcome of the other.

Week 3: (Real Time Session July 28): Basic Equine Handling
Lecturer: Chris Upchurch, AS
Content: Now that we have the understanding of what our species behavior entails, we will look at techniques and the understanding needed to successfully handle equines safely including catching the equine in the field, haltering and leading, tying, picking/handling legs and feet approaching in the stall and in the field, loading onto a trailer. We will also discuss approaching the abused or rescued equine, a mare with a foal, the young horse and the stallion. Use of equipment associated with equine handling will be covered as we move through the situations.

Week 4: (Real Time Session August 4): Handling for Veterinary Procedures
Lecturer: Shelley Shopsowitz, RVT, BA
Content: In the final session, specific handling techniques for veterinary procedures such as venipuncture and various injections will be covered. Common reasons for handling include taking a rectal temperature; auscultating for gut sounds; checking for pulse, respiration, dehydration and capillary refill time; and general assisting. Additional evaluation procedures and handling may include jogging a horse for a gait or lameness veterinary examination, handling and/or positioning for radiographs, or other diagnostic procedures, all of which include consideration of safety issues. Nursing and handling of nursing mares, dealing with difficult animals, and mare/foal/stallion handling will be reviewed. Restraint devices such as twitching, cross tying, stocks, and considerations for options and opportunities using chemical restraint will conclude this course.


Tuition: $120 ($108 early bird special if enrolled by June 21, 2013).
* Students currently enrolled in and taking at least 2 classes or 5 units at an AVMA accredited or CAAHT approved Veterinary Technician Program may be eligible to receive a 50% discount off the regular rate for this course (upon verification of student status).
*To ensure participants are ready and prepared for classes, enrollment will close when the maximum number of participants is reached or at 5pm ET the day of the first Real Time Session unless otherwise noted. If the first Real Time Session is on a weekend, course enrollment will close on the Friday before the first Real Time Session.

*For more information on how online CE works, see the Participant Resource Center.

  1. Enrollment qualifications: VIN CE courses are open to VIN member and non-member veterinarians. Veterinarians enrolling in a VSPN CE course must be a VIN member. Veterinary support staff must be a VSPN member to enroll in a VSPN CE or a VIN CE course open to VSPN member enrollment.
  2. Each enrollee must be able to receive emails from and addresses. Email is our major form of communication with participants; personal emails are highly recommended rather than clinic/hospital email addresses.
  3. Each person is individually responsible for his/her own registration. To ensure that all information received is secure and correct, please do not enroll for a course on behalf of another individual.
  4. For further assistance call 1-800-700-INFO (4636) or email (VIN CE) or (VSPN CE) Please include the course title, your full name, and contact information in your correspondence.
*Note: "This course has been submitted for approval for 6 continuing education credits in jurisdictions which recognize AAVSB RACE approval; however participants should be aware that some boards have limitations on the number of hours accepted in certain categories and/or restrictions on certain methods of delivery of continuing education."Call VSPN/VIN CE at 1-800-700-4636 for further information. (Attendees are encouraged to check with their licensing jurisdiction(s) for information regarding recognition by their board).

Course withdrawal and refund policy: A complete refund of the paid course price will be issued when your withdrawal request is received prior to the listed start date of the course. If you wish to withdraw after the start date please contact the VIN/VSPN office 1-800-700-INFO (4636) to discuss eligibility for a pro-rated refund.
* Note: To ensure rapid handling of your request for withdrawal, we recommend that you call the VIN/VSPN office at 1-800-700-INFO (4636).

*For more information on VSPN's upcoming CE courses, check the VSPN Course Catalog.

Nanette R. Walker Smith, MEd, RVT, CVT, LVT
VSPN Content Director & CE Coordinator

VSPN CE Services:
1-800-846-0028 or 1-530-756-4881 or direct line to VIN/VSPN from the United Kingdom: 01452226154
Barb Burri (; ext. 764 (New Hampshire)
Charlotte Waack (; ext 193 (Illinois)
Chris Upchurch (; ext 197 (Florida)
Lisa Kernaghan (; ext 159 (Arizona)
Nanette Walker Smith (; ext 187 (Colorado)

800.700.4636  |  |  530.756.4881  |  Fax: 530.756.6035
777 West Covell Blvd, Davis, CA 95616

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