Horse Twitch Types And Uses Explained!

Last Updated on April 6, 2022 by Cristina

If you’ve ever seen someone using a twitch on a horse, you might be surprised at this unusual restraint technique! However, if the right horse twitch types are used, this is a simple way to keep a horse calm for a few moments.

Let’s find out everything you need to know about twitching horses, and how to do it correctly!

What Is A Twitch? Horse Twitch Types

A twitch is a method of restraint used on horses. It involves looping something tightly around the top lip of the horse. This loop is then held in place, creating pressure on the upper lip.

This might sound like an odd thing to do to a horse, but twitches have been used for centuries as a way of keeping horses calm. They can be used for short periods to keep a horse still, quiet, and relatively immobile. This can be invaluable if you need to carry out a quick procedure that the horse resents, such as an injection, bandage change, or clipping.

What Is A Twitch

How Does A Twitch For Horses Work?

When a horse is twitched, it will stand very still, with all four hooves planted firmly on the floor. It will not be as reactive to pain and stimuli, making it easier to safely carry out whatever you need to do.

The reason that the horse goes so calm is that when the top lip of the horse is squeezed, the body of the horse creates endorphins. These are feel-good hormones, that make the horse feel tranquil and relaxed. These are the same endorphins that humans get when they do something pleasurable or exhilarating, such as eating chocolate or going for a run!

This effect happens relatively quickly when the twitch is applied, within three to five minutes. After this time you should see that the horse is visibly relaxed and calm, and does not react to external stimuli such as loud noises. His eyes will glaze over, and the lower lip may become droopy.

This effect only lasts for around 10 minutes, so this restraint technique is only suitable for short procedures. It can be a very useful method to use if you only have something quick to do that your horse does not like. If you need to do something that takes longer, such as clipping the whole body, you might need to use chemical sedation from your veterinary clinic instead.

Read more about Why Do Horses Chew On Wood? Weird Horse Habits Revealed!

What Are The Different Horse Twitch Types?

Over the years, many different horse twitch types have been developed. However, some of these are not as effective or can be painful for the horse, so are no longer used.

HORSE AND LIVESTOCK PRIME 109850 Humane Horse Twitch

Horse Twitch Types

The two most common horse twitch types still in use are the traditional twitch and humane twitch:

  • Traditional Twitch – Horse Twitch Types

A traditional twitch consists of a rounded wooden or plastic handle, around one to two feet in length. Many horse owners commonly make them by cutting up a wooden broom handle.

At one end of the handle is a loop of rope. This is often secured into a hole drilled through the side or top of the wooden handle. The loop should be made from a soft, non-abrasive material to avoid injury to the nose of the horse.

Check Out How Many Teeth Does A Horse Have? Amazing Horse Dental Facts Revealed!

  • Humane Twitch – Horse Twitch Types

This type of twitch consists of two metal handles, joined at the top with a hinge. Each handle is shaped so that the middle has a hole through which the top lip is held. The handles are then closed, applying pressure to the lip.

These twitches are not quite as effective as the traditional twitch, but they are thought to be less painful and are easier to use. They have a clip which holds them in place, but the metal parts do sometimes slip off the end of the horse’s nose.

How To Use A Twitch For Horses

To apply a twitch, hold the top lip with one hand, and use the other to loop the string around the lip. Twist the handle of the twitch to tighten the loop until the lip is snugly secured under the rope. Make sure that your fingers are kept well out of the way so they do not become trapped in the twitch!

After a couple of minutes, the horse should start to look calm and sleepy. Remember that he can still react and strikeout, so remain vigilant at all times.

Horse Twitch Types Summary

So, as we have learned, twitching a horse is a restraint technique used to calm a horse for a short period of time while a difficult procedure is carried out. This can be very useful for horses that are nervous or frightened of things like injections or clippers. The right horse twitch types and techniques are used to avoid hurting or injuring the horse.

We’d love to hear your thoughts about horse twitch types! Are you a fan of twitching horses to keep them calm? Or perhaps you’ve got a better way of restraining a horse that doesn’t involve a twitch? Leave a comment below and we’ll get back to you!


What Is A Nose Twitch For A Horse?

A nose twitch for a horse is a piece of equipment that loops around the upper lip. It is designed to be tightened around the lip, with the aim of keeping the horse still and calm.

What Is An Ear Twitch For Horses?

An ear twitch is a technique where the ear of the horse is twisted around to subdue it. This is a painful and cruel practice, and it is very uncommon to see anyone use an ear twitch on a horse.

Why Do People Twitch A Horse?

A twitch is a form of manual restrained, used to keep a horse quiet and subdued during certain procedures. If used correctly, it is a simple and effective method of restraining a horse without the need for chemical sedation.

Does Twitching A Horse Hurt Them?

If twitching is done correctly, it should not hurt the horse. The horse will be able to feel the twitch and it might be quite uncomfortable initially, but after this it will not feel any pain. It is essential that a humane twitch is used, as alternative twitches can be painful to the horse.