There’s nothing like getting more horse-sense to keep your equine friend healthy.
Drew Parker of Horse Aider is presenting the Equine Health and Emergency First Aid Course at the Okotoks Agricultural Society grounds and boardroom on May 13.
"This is all about how best to handle your horse — what is normal and abnormal — how to do first aid on your horse,” Parker said from his Longview area home. "It will include everything from suli to just treating common wounds.”
Parker said suli is based on the old days – really old days – when pages would take care of knights’ horses.
"The pages would assess the horses for battle and it is very similar to what we do now,” Parker said. "You check your horse out from head to toe, lifting the feet up and just checking for sore spots, get (the horse) stretched out.
"After a number of times doing it the horse doesn’t mind getting touched, whether it’s the ears, around the eyes, the muzzle… A lot of this is about the orientation of the horse’s nature. So there’s no fear or pushback.”
He said the biggest benefit is the horse owner has a better understanding of horses — allowing him or her to treat their horses in the future.
Parker said the course might save horse owners money in the way of veterinarian bills. However, he stressed horse owners should contact their vet if it is a serious issue.
"My goal is ‘do no harm, don’t make things worse for the veterinarian and call when appropriate,’’’ Parker said. "We are not pretending to be veterinarians, we don’t go into a whole lot of advance programs at this point.”
Some of the first aid includes treatment for open wounds, hoof abscesses, colic, eye injuries and just assessment — where is the horse sore.
He said the gentle touch with suli will help educate the horse owner.
"You learn how to stretch out the horse and make sure his range of motion is not impeded by pain or discomfort from whatever, maybe a pinched nerve…maybe today isn’t the day to go for a ride,” he said
Parker knows plenty of first aid for animals that walk on two feet. He was a Calgary paramedic for many years.
"As a paramedic, I was a field trainer for several years,” Parker said. "So the training side is not that big of a stretch for me. It is amazing how similar it is, especially in the modern books about equine health. They refer a lot back to human physiology — similar, but it’s not the same thing.”
Some of the things that will keep a horse safe is common sense — you don’t want your trailer or barn as cluttered as the backseat of a teenager’s car.
"I am a stickler for trailer safety,” Parker said. "Things like safe loading and unloading, ventilation, everything. I get asked to load horses constantly at barns… and I come back: ‘Hey it’s no wonder the horse won’t go in. The floor’s slippery, it’s dark, it’s tight…’ that first step into a trailer, that better be a clean, safe first foot in, and then he’ll keep going.
"Just little things like that.”
He said barns should have proper lighting, working fire extinguishers and a well-practiced, good emergency exit plan for animals and people, as well as no clutter.
Some of the proceeds from the course will go towards the Okotoks Agricultural Society. To register contact Parker at email@example.com or at 403-968-5615.
Those interested could also contact the Okotoks Ag Society by texting or calling 403-510-3598.
Parker said the program is credited by both Equine Canada and Equine USA.