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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov. 9, 2008

    Default Best way to give injections to a shot-hater?

    I guess I have always been lucky because in the few instances where I have given IM injections to my horses (colic, hives), they have always been no problem. I could give the shot either in the hind leg or in the neck. I just got a new horse two months ago and he recently had a reaction to a fly spray. The vet told me to give him Banamine and Azium. When I went to give the Banamine in the neck, he was fine until the needle went in and then he moved away from the handler so fast, he pulled away from the needle and only got 1/2 of the dose.
    Any suggestions like applying ice beforehand, whatever? Hopefully, I won't have this problem often but would like to have some ideas to try BEFORE I need them.

  2. #2
    Brandi OHS Guest


    I usually desensitize the area by firmly patting on it. I do this frequently on a shot hater, AKA every time I think about it when handling him. That way he is use to me messing around there. I pinch the skin up too.

    When I go to give the shot I will generally go in the stall with their side against the wall. I hold the lead with my hand that will pinch the skin. I usually have some "whoa" tension on the lead. I firmly pat the area and pull up the skin and stick him -still holding the skin - inj and then remove the needle. I don't let go of his skin until I am done.

    If he moves forward I pull the lead and push him toward the wall in a sidepass type move. I also take advantage of the stall walls in front of and beside.

    Another thing I have done is put them in the round pen and use the round pen panels like I do the stall wall. Only difference is if they get incredibly stupid they get to work in the round pen. I would do lots of sessions with a capped needle and syringe. Press firmly on the inj site with the cap so he gets use to pressure there. Praise big time when he stands perfectly still.

    Worst case scenario are the ones you almost have to hog-tie and blindfold. I have seen this done and it isn't for the faint of heart. Another way is to put them in the horse trailer and reach the best you can based on the way the trailer is put together. i.e. straight load with an escape door at the shoulder would give access to the neck. Slant load might let you reach a hip. Tie them well and maybe blindfold or twitch the really bad ones.

    Hope some of these are methods you can make use of!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul. 28, 2004


    I had one that was bad with shots. I would warn the vet, and when the vet drove up, I would give the horse a little something to eat in its stall. The vet would quickly sneak into the stall and get it over with. I had one female vet who was very good at this! The trick was to not let the horse see it coming and to not get started thinking about it.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec. 31, 2003
    Central Ohio

    Default I have a shot-hater too..

    ...and the magical thing that works for HIM is just to blindfold him with a towel. He's tense and worried, but something about the fact that he can't SEE the needle keeps his feet firmly in place, and I scratch him real hard over the injection site then quickly slip the needle in between scratches. He never really seems to "feel" the needle stick. It's the anticipation of me or a vet coming AT him with the needle that makes him the craziest.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar. 9, 2004


    A lip chain or a twitch usually works for the really bad ones. I used to really not want to go there, felt like it was mean and un-neccessarily harsh. Then I had a horse get injured and I had to give him three shots a day of antibiotics. He got increasingly stressed and uncooperative. After an ugly attempt where we both dodged serious injury I decided it was quicker, less stressful for the horse & less dangerous for me to twitch. A win, win.
    "You can't blame other people. You can't always say what happened wasn't my fault, and you know what? Even if you have an excuse, shut up. "Bruce Davidson Sr.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar. 8, 2004
    Baltimore, MD


    I know this doesn't help you with your question but please don't give banamine im. Learn to give IV shots or give it orally. Its just not worth the small risk.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct. 16, 2008
    Central Oklahoma


    Separate the needle from the syringe. Hold the needle between your fingers, pat his neck with the back of your hand for a couple of time, and then stick the needle in immediately. Once the needle is in firmly, you can reattach the syringe to give injection.

    You may also want to desensitive him to the sensation of needle before hand. Pinch his skin where the injection site will be and release when he relaxes. Repeat for several times for several days.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan. 4, 2007


    We had a show jumper that was so dangerous when he thought someone was going to inject him that he once almost tore the stocks down trying to get out of there.

    We got around that by giving him any shot when we were grooming him and he would not even know about it.
    We would brush vigorously and then just stick the needle only in and keep brusing and he didn't feel it then.

    If a vet approached him with a shot, he would rear and pull away in a real panic.
    Don't know what ever happened to him to make him like that, but it was scary to see him that wild, because he generally was a very nice and polite horse.

    You may try desensitizing him to sticking with a tootpick and use it as you brush, so he doesn't think any stick may be a shot.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan. 8, 2006
    B.C. Canada


    I have one gelding who is downright dangerous when giving shots to. Didn't help he was on IM antibiotics for 6 weeks about a year ago either. we tried everything..

    Finally I resorted to giving him shots in his pec muscles, it was the only place you could 'kinda' get close to. (asked vet first, - she agreed it wasn't a prime area, - but has known this horse from birth and is well aware of the difficulties of working with him with anything vet related)
    Quote Originally Posted by ExJumper View Post
    Sometimes I'm thrown off, sometimes I'm bucked off, sometimes I simply fall off, and sometimes I go down with the ship. All of these are valid ways to part company with your horse.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov. 9, 2008


    He doesn't have any problem UNTIL the needle goes in and when it does, he is NOT safe to be with. I think I'll try the toothpick and pinch ideas first and hopefully, he'll be sensitized to it before I need to give him another injection. Thanks everyone.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Mar. 10, 2003
    Massachusetts, USA


    One can use Clicker Training (Positive Reinforcement) to help the horse overcome his fear of being injected as well to even line himself up for it. Basically the method used is the same for any animal, including the lion ...

    National Zoo School for Lions

    Naba, Shera, and Luke are now in the process of learning to receive injections from their indoor enclosures. Training for injections requires a high level of trust on the part of the animal and the trainer. Training for injections begins by working with the lions on their body position: they must align their body parallel to the front of their enclosure. Just as people, lions learn at different paces from one another and require individualized methods of teaching.

    To date, all three lions have learned to align their bodies correctly. They now must learn to move their bodies closer to the front of the enclosure so that future hand-injections will be possible. Once they are ready, keepers can start preparing the lions for a poking sensation without a needle. The poking sensation during training should be a little more uncomfortable than that of a needle injection so that the real injection is readily accepted. Before real injections take place, veterinarians will shadow the training sessions and give practice injections to desensitize the lions to the injection. As usual, Shera is progressing the fastest in her training and will be ready for needle desensitization soon.

    Lusaka has a custom training plan. Keepers are still working to help Lusaka overcome her tendency of biting the mesh at the front of her indoor enclosure, a behavior that she brought with her to the National Zoo. If Lusaka needs an injection or exam, she has been trained to walk into a specially designed cage, where vets can administer a hand injection.
    That quote is from

    A way to 'poke' without an actual needle for desensitizing and training purposes would be using a push-pin (bulletin board push pin) ... Obviously you're not going to 'jab it INTO the horse' but you can 'poke' ... go through all the normal gestures (back-handed slaps and then turn hand over and "poke") ... but start from the beginning. It might help to have a special area just for this training so the horse learns to associate 'that area' with a pleasant reward (c/t) ... then start at the beginning working through each 'step' of giving an injection - complete with swabbing the area with alcohol prior to the 'poke' with the pushpin. Some horses recognize that alcohol smell and will react simply to that.

    CT isn't just for teaching 'tricks' to a trick horse. Its use with all sorts of animals in various capacities is successful and most readily utilized as the primary 'teaching' tool in zoos, rescues, sanctuaries, etc.
    --Gwen <><
    "Treat others as you want to be treated and be the change you want to see in the world."

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Aug. 22, 2005


    I have one mare (that I got as a three-year-old and is now 27) who is needle-phobic.

    First time or two I stuck her, she stood on her hind legs. After that, I took a bit more time with the "shot prep": My left hand holds the lead rope and the left-side cheek piece of the halter; right hand holds the syringe needle pointing up with thumb and forefinger; other three fingers scratch the neck a bit. Usually, I stick the needle in mid-scratch, then continue scratching. With her I'd put my left hand on the bridge of her nose, and I'd scratch, scratch, stick with a fingernail, scratch, scratch, stick with fingernail, repeat until she wasn't flinching so bad, then make the next stick the needle.

    After several shots (which is generally only a once-a-year thing with me), she started making a huge effort to cooperate. You could see her internal conflict plain as day: "I will, I will stand...ohhhh, I can't, but I must, I will, I will stand..... ohhhhhhh, I can't, but I must, I WILL stand. As the years passed, the conflict became shorter and less obvious, but she still gets "that look" when the syringe comes out.
    Last edited by greysandbays; Jul. 24, 2009 at 04:13 PM. Reason: lost html tag

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jun. 14, 2009
    SE VA


    I have a shot hater that I bred myself. She sounds similar to your's. She sees the needle and gets kind of crazy and once you stick her, she really flips out and often sends the needle flying. I AM a Zookeeper and have trained rhinos to come up to the fence and stand to be hand injected and have blood drawn from the back of their ears, but try and try and I could not desensitize this one. I, too, have done the pectorals, because I could "sneak up" on her there, but it is only good for one shot a day and after losing half an Adequan injection, I decided that wasn't the way to go. We had good luck with someone feeding her while trying to inject her. The best thing I have done is to blindfold her. I have been desensitizing her to having a towel over her eyes since she was a baby, so no problem there. She will still jump sometimes, but it is so much easier and I can do her by myself, standing in the cross ties (not tied). I don't do anything unusual(no telling her "Whoa!" or otherwise "tipping her off" that something unusual is happening) and will let her back herself into the corner if she wants(all the better!). Each time I have used this method, she has gotten easier. I blindfold her fairly regularly, after grooming, and just pet her, feed her treats, and mess around her neck, so she never gets the idea to expect a shot just because she is blindfolded. In fact, it is fun, because it means treats! It has been a blessing. Fortunatley, so far, we have not had to give any large volume shots to do nerve blocks. Not sure how that would go over.

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