Profile: From the horse's mouth
Working with horses can help medical students communicate with patients, according to neurosurgeon, researcher, author, and rancher Allan Hamilton. Krishna Chinthapalli saddles up
Every Friday afternoon, a group of medical students dressed in jeans, boots, and hats try to coax horses to leap hurdles or negotiate an obstacle course. Each medical student works with a new horse every week, and they do not use bridles, harnesses, or saddles to control them. Instead, they are taught to use their own body language to gain the horse's trust and then persuade the animal to perform various tasks. Why? The students are taking part in the “Medicine and Horsemanship” course at a ranch on the outskirts of Tucson, Arizona, in the United States.
Professor Allan Hamilton is a neurosurgeon at the University of Arizona's Health Sciences Center, and he set up the course four years ago. He elaborates: “One day after working with my horses during the morning, I came into hospital for my afternoon clinics. I looked at the whole clinical setting, comparing it with