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Discussion on Fear of Injections

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Vicky Thomas
Member
Username: Vthomas

Post Number: 7
Registered: 10-2004
Posted on Thursday, Jun 16, 2005 - 9:43 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Does anyone have experience w/teaching a horse to stand still when getting an injection? I think this mare is operating out of intense fear, which turns to intense "get away from me now!". We have a broodmare that is, overall, a very gentle mare and in the year we have had her has learned to trust both my and my husband (she was a bit distrustful at first). All this changes when she sees or suspects an injection. It is impossible to give IV shot and very scary even for IM. She jumps and runs away or "threatens" to run over us. We have tried men and women, vets and nonvets! Tying her only panics her more. Various types of restraint only panics her more. Even though so far she hasn't hurt anyone, I feel this is very dangerous. What little I know of her hx is she was born early and did have some medical issues and was "poked and prodded" a lot as a foal. Is there a way to desensitize a horse to fear of injections? We are willing to use time and patience. What hasn't work so far is (1) taking time and staying w/her until she quiets down, (2) round pen work where she either trots in circles or stands for injection (this has sometimes worked), (3) tying to keep her still, (4) covering her eye (now she knows this is prelude to injection). Typically, vets are giving the injection and they are quick to finish once the needle is in place.
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Sara Wolff
Member
Username: Mrose

Post Number: 726
Registered: 1-2000
Posted on Thursday, Jun 16, 2005 - 9:58 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

What about using a needle less syringe and pretending to inject her, thus desensitizing her, and rewarding her when she does stand still?
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Vicky Thomas
Member
Username: Vthomas

Post Number: 8
Registered: 10-2004
Posted on Thursday, Jun 16, 2005 - 10:39 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Sara, that is an idea worth trying; Thanks.
Has anyone else had to deal with this situation, too? What worked?
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Sue G
Member
Username: Warwick

Post Number: 158
Registered: 4-2002
Posted on Thursday, Jun 16, 2005 - 12:18 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Hi Vicky

What I have done in the past with several youngsters who were difficult to inject was to get a helper to feed them carrots while I gave the shot. Initially they would react but the drive for food soon overtook the drive for flight/fight and in a very short amount of time, they all stood without a problem. I can now give them shots on my own without them moving a muscle and without having to ply them with carrots beforehand. They have completely lost their initial fear/mistrust of needles and a pat and a kind word afterwards is all that they need.

One filly in particular was positively dangerous to deal with and as a weanling even put the poor vet on his tush. She was a premie foal and spent the first 10 days of life in the ICU strapped to a waterbed, undergoing plasma transfusions and multiple other treatments. By the time she came home she wanted absolutely nothing to do with people, needles or oral meds. The carrot trick worked wonders with her and she is now as calm as a cucumber when I give her a shot. Just gave her tetanus the other night as a matter of fact without even as much as a flinch.

Something I also did until they got better behaved was make sure to separate the needle from the syringe before popping it in. It seemed easier that way. Just like people, horses have different pain thresholds and so another idea is to use a smaller gauge needle. Obviously it wouldn't work for something like penicillin but it would for say tetanus or WNV. After getting good results with that, you could then bump up to a thicker gauge.

I sympathize with you as having a broodmare that is hard to give shots to is a real drag. Thankfully my broodmares have always been the kind that you don't even need to halter to shoot up. And my really big gelding is the best of all and just keeps munching hay without as much as a glance backwards.

Good luck and remember to stay positive and relaxed. Don't get her tense by letting her picking up on your anxiety as her life as a broodmare goes hand-in-hand with having shots.

Sue
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Cheryl Hohler
Member
Username: Chohler

Post Number: 276
Registered: 8-2004
Posted on Thursday, Jun 16, 2005 - 12:19 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Sara, I start by patting my horse firmly on the neck, not quite a slap, I do this all the time, and then I progress to tapping them really firmly with my index finger and middle finger repeatedly.

I then use a syringe by itself to desensitize my horse with first, I rub them all over with it and repeated tap them firmly and fastly with it.

If they move thats fine keep them going in a circle, and rub with the syringe more. When they start accepting that well I take the needle unatatched to the syringe and dart the needle real fast into the skin I leave it there and start desensitizing with the syringe again. If you put the needle in horizontally it has less of a tendency to fall out. If they are doing well I insert the syringe and pull the needle out. I repeat this several times. It takes a little coordination, and don't be afraid if the needle falls out, I keep a sanitizing solution and clean it and start over.

No animal likes shots, their biggest hang up about it is that we act differently, we hide it etc... nervousness, acting like it is a big ordeal.

If all else fails a stock comes in handy.
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Sue G
Member
Username: Warwick

Post Number: 159
Registered: 4-2002
Posted on Thursday, Jun 16, 2005 - 12:42 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

I don't believe in tapping prior to giving shots. I think it sends a signal to the horse that something is up consequently putting them on their guard and causing their muscles to tense.

I do clinical research and if I tapped my patients prior to sticking them, they would definitely be leary of what was coming next! Horses are no different.
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Cheryl Hohler
Member
Username: Chohler

Post Number: 277
Registered: 8-2004
Posted on Thursday, Jun 16, 2005 - 1:29 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

I only tap the horse in the begining stages of desensitizing, they get used to it and stop flinching, before you graduate to a syringe, if you can't tap the horse without it flinching or going bonkers ods are seeing a syringe isn't going to go well either.

I don't tap before shots, you can rub them afterwards.
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Robert N. Oglesby DVM
Moderator
Username: Dro

Post Number: 13157
Registered: 1-1997
Posted on Thursday, Jun 16, 2005 - 1:32 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

We have an article that explains how to recondition your horses behavior towards injections, Training Horses » Behavioral Problems » Behavior Modification, Conditioning, Desensitization, and Counterconditioning.

Concerning tapping it depends on the horse. I do find just sticking a flighty horse who is unaware that a slightly noxious event is about to occur may cause them to "jump the moon". On the other hand some horses become increasingly annoyed with it. If I find the horse is not paying attention to what is going on I will tap them or give them a light pinch.
DrO
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Cheryl Hohler
Member
Username: Chohler

Post Number: 279
Registered: 8-2004
Posted on Thursday, Jun 16, 2005 - 1:41 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

If you know you are going to do shots in 2 weeks, desensitize for a week and a half.

Then when its time just give the shots. If the horse gets all hyped up, lunge them let them rest and then try again.
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Alden Chamberlain
Member
Username: Alden

Post Number: 186
Registered: 9-2002
Posted on Thursday, Jun 16, 2005 - 11:14 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Vicky,

We also have a mare that would do anything to get away from a needle, she'd tear the barn down and pity the person who got in her way. I tried every thing I think of, but nothing would changer her mind.

We moved to Colorado last summer and needed a new vet, we asked around and gave one a try. I warned him when it came time for shots, he smiled and listened; then walked up to her and gave her the shot. She didn't move a muscle, just stood there. I couldn't believe my eyes.

But then I hadn't seen a vet insert the needle like him. He walked up talking to the mare, stroked her neck and laid the needle against her neck. Then he very slowly slid the needle in, taking five seconds or maybe a little longer. The crazy mare just didn't know what to make of this and stood still. He's given her two shots now with the same results. Everyone before had jabbed the needle in and the fight would begin. Maybe this will work for you.

Good day,
Alden
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Sue G
Member
Username: Warwick

Post Number: 160
Registered: 4-2002
Posted on Friday, Jun 17, 2005 - 11:39 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Alden, that's how I inject my patients and horses too. I lived in Italy for a while as a kid and remember going to the doctor for a vaccination in my arm. He basically treated me like a dart board and literally threw the needle at me. I couldn't move my arm for a week and I've never forgotten it. Skin is a highly sensitive organ for people and horses alike and should be treated as such.
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Vicky Thomas
Member
Username: Vthomas

Post Number: 9
Registered: 10-2004
Posted on Friday, Jun 17, 2005 - 12:27 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Thank you all for the great advice. She isn't due another injection for a few months, so I can start desensitizing her now. She is otherwise such a nice, quality mare. This has really helped.
Vicky
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