Procedures that you should be able to competently and safely perform on a horse.


Hand Walk a Convalescing or Recovering Horse


The goal of hand walking a recovering or convalescing horse is to keep them moving at a controlled walk. Whether a horse is recovering from colic surgery, or nursing a musculoskeletal injury, it is critical to prevent a horse from coming to speed. Trotting or rearing can overload a healing incision or bone, causing a catastrophe.

This skill is much easier to perform on horses that have basic ground manners and respect for their handler.


Halter your horse. Standing on the near (horse's left) side of the horse, grasp the lead rope with your right hand, about 2 feet from the halter and keep a billow of slack in the lead. Walk confidently forward, looking forward while keeping your horse within a window behind you and to your right.

If your horse drags, maintain pressure on the rope, releasing pressure when your horse yields forward. If your horse pushes forward past you, check it with constant pressure on the nose-band and release when your horse yields back. Your vet will prescribe the amount and frequency of hand walking, and grazing.
Be honest with yourself. Do you have the skills to control your horse? If not, let someone who has the confidence and skill handle your horse because the consequences of a mistake may be dire.

Always use a properly secured, and substantial halter and heavy lead rope. Use a properly applied chain shank for pushy horses. Use common sense in your selection of routes, thinking ahead about obstacles and distractions. Train your horse as you go so that these walks become easy and predictable. You may be doing this for awhile.


Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP