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Twitch Calms a Nervous HorseBy Kentucky Equine Research Staff · October 20, 2011

A lip twitch can be helpful in restraining a horse for a simple veterinary procedure or other brief action (changing a bandage, checking for pregnancy, clipping a bridle path) to which the horse may object. A twitch is easy to use, effective, and humane when applied correctly.

The device consists of a wooden handle and a loop of rope. The handler puts the rope around the horse’s upper lip and twists the handle to take up slack in the loop. The twitch should be put on gently and tightened firmly, but not so snugly as to injure the horse.

If possible, it’s best to wait three to five minutes after applying the twitch. This time period allows twitch-cued endorphins to do their work, calming the horse so that his handlers can carry out the procedure they have planned. The calming effect of the endorphins lasts only about ten minutes. The twitch should be taken off as soon as the procedure is finished.