How did my patients kickstart this project

Thinking about how to help more horses and their people, somewhere deep in my mind there was an idea of making an educational project, but still “was not the right time to do it” or “it was better to care about my busy practice”  than “teaching something everybody knows” or “nobody needs” (I am sure all of us know how the common excuses sound like).

I needed the right impulse to start…

… and in a few weeks, I really got it!

In spring I’ve had two work-related injuries in 3 days. No serious damage, but I was not able to work for almost one month. And yes, you are completely right if you think: “Who the hell goes to work three days after injury to get another one?”  Well, this is also a part of the busy field veterinarians’ reality.

When this happened it reminded me of my own words that I’ve repeated several times at every single veterinary first aid course I’ve been teaching:


How easy is to put yourself in a danger thinking that it’s just a quick/easy/painless procedure so nothing can happen to you!

Work-related injuries in equine vets

Being big and strong animals, horses can be potentially dangerous. Although horses had been domesticated approximately 6 thousand years ago and selected for specific qualities by humans, we never manage to get rid of their flight response and claustrophobia completely.

That’s what we have to keep in mind not only when riding but also during the daily handling and health care.

According to many practitioners and studies, horses are among the most difficult patients to handle and being an equine vet is the most dangerous civilian profession.

  • A study recently performed by BEVA (British Equine Veterinary Association) revealed that an average equine practitioner in Great Britain sustains 7-8 work-related injuries in his or her career

Safety around horse patients

Because horse-related injuries are so common among equine vets, riders, and horse industry employees, it’s always worthwhile to repeat the fundamental safety rules

  • Know the basics of equine behaviour and learning theory
  • Always approach a horse wearing protective footwear and clothes (no swimming suit and flip flops, please)
  • When working with a difficult patient, consider wearing a riding hat and gloves
  • Remember that the safest place to stand is either very far away from the horse or very close
  • All the persons involved in handling or treating a horse should stand on one side of the horse (except for treatment of young foals or some procedures held on horse’s head)
  • Pay full attention to the horse you are working with (inattention or underestimation of the situation are the common causes of horse-related injuries)
  • Don’t break the safety rules just because you are tired, you have a lack of time, or you don’t see anyone who can help you at the moment
  • Remember that pain, stress, or illness can change the horse’s response into less predictable
  • If you feel uncomfortable in a certain situation or with a particular horse (it doesn’t matter if it’s your own horse) or procedure, don’t be afraid to ask someone more experienced for a help
  • Or the other way round: When you see someone inexperienced making a mistake that can lead to a potentially dangerous situation, he or she may appreciate your advice or help
  • And finally the most important thing: when you sustain a horse related injury, analyze the situation so you can prevent it next time

What did I do wrong?

As far as I can say it was fatigue and lack of awareness what has knocked me down in both cases.

Springtime is usually the busiest part of the equine veterinarian’s year. I very often work the day and night through. When I am very tired I’m, of course, not able to pay 100% attention to my patients no matter how much caffeine circulates in my vascular system.

I’m pretty sure many of you know what I’m talking about. So take care!


In the end, everything bad is good for something. This is how the project with its very own logo was born.

I hope you will enjoy it 🙂

© Katerina Musilkova

"Hello! My name is Katerina, I am the equine veterinarian interested in professional and sofisticated animal handling through applied learning theory. I help the horses and their humans go through the medical care in easier, less stressful, more ethical and safer way." Read more >