Dr. Robert Miller's Articles - Dr. Robert Miller - Spalding Labs
  • Gaited Horses

    I have never owned a gaited horse. I did own one mule out of a Tennessee Walking mare and she did have the walk. However I have ridden every popular gaited breed in the U.S.A. For example: I worked on a ranch one summer while I was a vet student...
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  • Riding Boots

    In 1949 my father gave me a Christmas present; a pair of kangaroo cowboy boots. They were handsome but a size too large. No matter! I only used them for riding. One day I was practicing calf roping. I threw a bad loop, began to dismount prematurely...
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  • The Five Most Important Things I Learned About Horses After I Thought I Knew It All

    Except for number one, which I discovered when I was 33, during my third year of practice. I discovered the others between 50 and 60 years of age. The horse is a precocial species. The most powerful and fastest learning time in their life is during...
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  • The Horseman’s Knife

    I don’t believe that anybody should work with horses unless they carry a sharp, easily accessible knife. Horsemen all over the world know this, although the kind of knife varies with the culture. The Argentine gaucho, for example, carries a non...
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  • Safer Equine Handling

    One of my more recent books on horsemanship is Handling the Equine Patient . I wrote it for veterinary students and for students of veterinary technology (the veterinary nursing profession). Why? Because I have seen so many students and, indeed...
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  • Horses Hate Flies

    Horses Hate Flies. Can you blame them? Aren’t you annoyed by their buzzing persistence? And, sometimes they bite! What do wild equines do to combat these pests? They will seek higher ground where breezes may offer some relief. They will roll on...
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  • Horses Seek Comfort

    It is common for accomplished horse trainers, when teaching or explaining their methods, to use the terms “pressure and release” or, more excessively, “reward and punishment” to explain how to obtain various behaviors desired....
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  • Weaning

    With rare exceptions I don’t think foals should be weaned earlier than 5 months. If the mare is pregnant again, or unusually stressed then the foal may be weaned early. Otherwise I’d wait until 6 or 7 months. I have seen mustangs nursing yearlings...
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  • Bishop Mule Days in Bishop, CA

    Attending Bishop Mule Days has become a Rite of Spring for Debby and me. It is held the week before Memorial Day in Bishop California, the largest town in the Owens Valley. Bishop has nearly 4,000 residents. Sandwiched between two 14,000-foot mountain...
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  • Start Fly Control Early

    I have been using Spalding’s Fly Predators since 1978 or 1979. I forgot the year but it was shortly after we moved to this small acreage, which provides pasture for our horses and mules. It is March and I am writing this at a resort in California’s...
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  • Lower Forelimb Lameness

    The anatomy of the horse’s lower forelimb is identical with that of the hind limb. Why then is lower forelimb lameness so much more prevalent than hind limb lameness? I am referring to such common unsoundness as high ringbone, low ringbone, splints...
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  • The Hazards of Horsemanship

    We all recognize the physical hazards of horsemanship. It is not just due to falling off while riding. Most injuries to people occur on the ground and are inflicted by horses considered gentle. Why? Because the horse is a prey species, not equipped with...
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  • Why I Encourage the Use of Spalding Lab’s Fly Predators

    I am a frequent speaker at horse expos, schools of veterinary medicine and equine science, veterinary conventions, and other horse related events. I meet a lot of horse people and I have often been asked, “You endorse Spalding’s Fly Predators...
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  • Veterinary Schools, Then and Now

    I started veterinary school at what was then known as Colorado A&M in 1952. I had already acquired a Bachelor of Science degree in Arizona in 1951, but, primarily because I was not a resident of Colorado, I had already been rejected by Colorado as...
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  • Hobbling Horses

    Unlike some traditional cowboy horsemanship methods, this one is humane, gentle, and easily done. The photo shows how I teach horses to accept hobbles. A soft burlap sack is cut up to form a large square cloth. It is then folded to make a long multi-layered...
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  • Changes in Terminology

    Languages change. I understand that. But, in the horse industry in the U.S.A., the urbanization of our society has resulted in language changes, which completely alter the original meaning of some words. Increasingly, horse owners are not from an agricultural...
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  • The Four Greatest Things I Learned About Horses

    By the time I graduated veterinary school at thirty years of age I felt very knowledgeable about horses. After all, I had driven draft teams at 15 years of age, judged Quarter Horses as a student in the University of Arizona, spent 10 summers working...
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  • "Riding Home" Book Review

    The most fascinating book I have read in quite a while is Riding Home by Tim Hayes (St. Martin’s Press, 2015). The subtitle explains the theme of the book. The Power of Horses to Heal , with a forward by Robert Redford, ultimately proclaims the...
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  • Natural Versus Artificial Selection

    The Thoroughbred horse is so inbred that every horse is more closely related to all other Thoroughbreds than first cousins. Inbreeding of course, in any species tends to fix desirable qualities such as size, color, temperament, agility, strength, intelligence...
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  • A Love of Horse Expos

    I assume that most of you horse lovers attend, each year, at least one of the many Horse Expos held all over the U.S.A. I am fortunate to have been invited to lecture or demonstrate at nearly all the big ones in the country, some for multiple times. ...
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  • Why I Started Using Fly Predators

    Thirty-seven years ago I was on a call to a well-known boarding stable. I can’t remember why I was there, but I do remember that it was a hot August day. I was bending over, working on a horse’s right forefoot. The temperature was over 100...
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  • Heartening Stories from the Past

    The most heartrending case for me (and there were many) was when I had to put a horse down because of a hopeless fatal colic. Sadly, this is not an unusual event in an equine practitioner’s career. However, the client in this case was a woman with...
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  • Pigeon Fever

    Dr. Sharon Spier is a brilliant member of the faculty at the U.C. Davis School of Veterinary Medicine in California. I recently attended one of her lectures at a veterinary conference. The subject was Pigeon Fever, a rapidly spreading disease of horses...
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  • The Introduction To Pat Parelli - A New Look at Same Old Methods

    Dr. Robert M. Miller discovered Pat Parelli at Bishop Mule Days when he was not yet 26 years of age. Dr. Miller recalls witnessing a young man loudly explaining to a small group of perhaps a dozen people how he was going to mount a mule colt and ride...
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  • Sergeant Reckless – A Double Book Review

    I first heard of Sergeant Reckless before the two books I’ll describe were published, and before I learned that a statue of this remarkable little mare and a memorial existed at the Camp Pendleton Marine Base in California. I heard the story...
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