I was at a horse expo earlier this year, when a voice called out, “Doctor Miller!” It was Dr. Marcia Thiebeault, a Kentucky colleague and the author of I Make Horse Calls, a very readable book about her life as an equine practitioner. We caught up for awhile, and as I walked away, she called out again, “Hey! When are you going to do a book for veterinary students on how to handle horses?”

That had, frankly, never occurred to me, but she ignited a fire. This fall, I completed a book on the art and science of handling horses and related species (donkeys and mules). Although my targeted readership are students of veterinary medicine and veterinary technology (veterinary nursing), the book will, I hope, also be of help to those who must doctor their own horses. My goal is to reduce the far-too-frequent injuries to frightened equine patients and their well-intentioned but inexperienced handlers.

The book, Handling Equine Patients: A Handbook for Veterinary Students and Veterinary Technicians ($19.95, RMM Communications www.robertmmiller.com ), has just been released, and reflects my experiences from a lifetime of handling horses (often painfully gained). May it make treatment less stressful and traumatic for both horse and handler.

I will be at the AAEP convention in Baltimore December 4-8th, and will have a booth sponsored by Spalding Labs. I look forward to seeing old colleagues and meeting new ones; please stop by to say hello!

Happy holidays, and all the best for 2011.

Order now, using coupon code HOLIDAY2010 and receive 20%



A very common behavioral problem in horses is getting “barn sour.” The term describes a horse who hates to leave home, and moves reluctantly and slowly away from where he lives. But then, headed home, he can hardly be held in. 

This problem is caused by humans. You see, going away from home means work. Getting home means comfort. We unsaddle, which feels good to the horse. We unbridle, we groom. We hose off the animal’s back. We feed. Wouldn’t you be eager to go home?

Barn sourness can be resolved by consistently making “out there” more pleasant than “coming home.” How? Let a thirsty horse drink “out there” if you have a pond or stream that’s accessible. Dismount and allow your horse to graze for awhile. These are soothing, comfortable activities for horses. 

When you get home, do uncomfortable activities, like a workout in an arena. Then tie the horse for a long time. Hours! Eventually coming home will lose its appeal. Be careful not to allow anticipation to build. Come home in various, unpredictable ways. Arrive home and immediately head off in another direction on a new trail ride.

I have used these methods to start colts and they never end up barn sour. They enjoy going out. The same methods can be used to change or prevent misbehavior or used to prevent misbehavior, but they take much, much longer to work. “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” 

Robert M. Miller, DVM


In addition to Dr. Miller’s newest book, Handling Equine Patients: A Manual for Veterinary Students and Veterinary Technicians, we’re pleased to offer two other new releases, including, The Passion for Horses & Artistic Talent: An Unrecognized Connection

“Passion”exposes the previously unexplored connection between horse lovers and creative aptitudes. Dr. Miller presents, through numerous case studies, convincing evidence that there is a factor in some people that leads them to make horses a central theme in their lives, and that this is also linked to artistic talent.  Order now, using coupon code HOLIDAY2010 and receive 20%.

Also new is the updated reissue of Dr. Miller’s 1985 memoir, Yes, We Treat Aardvarks: Stories from an Extraordinary Veterinary Practice (formerly, “Most of My Patients are Animals”). This is the story of how the small, mixed-practice Dr. Miller established in a rural Southern California town in 1956 grew to become one of the largest, most well-regarded animal hospitals in the United States. With new chapters and cartoons, and the original foreword by the late James Herriot, author of the All Creatures Great and Small trilogy. Order now, using coupon code HOLIDAY2010 and receive 20%.

Question of the Month

Have a question for Dr. Miller? Send it to questions@robertmmiller.com. We apologize that due to volume, we can’t guarantee Dr. Miller can respond to all emails, but we are building a more comprehensive FAQ page on our website to address your needs. All questions may be edited for clarity and space.

Q.  My vet uses a twitch.  How do you feel about this?

A. The twitch, like the bit and the spur, is a legitimate tool in horsemanship, but like the others, it is often used improperly and harshly. No horsemanship tool should ever be used in anger or impatience. Because some people do so, other people often disapprove of their use in general, which shouldn’t be the case.

Interested in catching one of Dr. Miller’s lectures?  

Mark Your Calendars!

Interested in catching one of Dr. Miller’s winter or spring lectures?

Robert M. Miller, D.V.M.

January 25, 2011, Orlando, FL: North American Veterinary Conference.

May 19-22, 2011, Santa Ynez, CA: 4th annual Lighthands Horsemanship Clinic.
For information, call 530-346-9125. 

For contact details and other dates and locations in 2011, go to www.robertmmiller.com/appearances.html.

Coming in our February newsletter: Foaling season and Imprint Training

Want to place an ad in our newsletter, or book Dr. Miller for a lecture, demonstration, or book signing?    Contact info@robertmmiller.com.

Please send any comments or suggestions to newsletter@robertmmiller.com.  Have an idea for a cartoon? Send it to cartoons@robertmmiller.com, or visit www.rmmcartoons.com.

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