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Advice for the needle-phobic horse

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  • #21
    Originally posted by PeteyPie View Post
    My vet does something interesting. He has the needle separate from the plunger. So he approaches the horse with the needle held in his fingers so it can't be seen, darts the needle in, and then attaches the plunger. Of course there is some kind of escutcheon or base on the needle which holds it in at the right depth. Sometimes he will turn away, leaving the needle in the horse's neck and retrieve the plunger or fill it or whatever. He does it very quickly, quietly and efficiently, and they don't even flinch. Don't ask me how he attaches the plunger without moving the needle too much, but he somehow does.

    This might be a common practice, but I had never seen it before.
    That is how I do my shots. I have someone hold the horse. Once the needle is in, I hold it still with one hand and attached the syringe with the other hand.

    Comment


    • #22
      I found that doing IM injections in the pecs helped ease the drama for my needle phobic guy.

      On a side note, euthanizing the needle phobic horse that has a broken leg was a $hit-tastic experience.

      Comment


      • #23
        Ugh. Sorry to hear that, Duramax.

        Roxie goes in stocks. She doesn't lash out but she still hates the whole experience. I cover an eye, and she gets LOTS of carrots or Oreos or whatever her favorite treat is at the moment.

        I hate twitches, period.
        Click here for the Roxie blog!

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        • #24
          [QUOTE=sirensong4;6586426]Ugh. Sorry to hear that, Duramax.

          Roxie goes in stocks. QUOTE]

          Yes. I love your blog...i forgot the url tho....thanks

          Comment


          • #25
            Hello, did you steal my mare when I wasn't looking?

            I tried all the tricks mentioned - you can't twitch her, hates a chain shank, you can punch/jiggle/etc. till the cows come home. She also hates having her mane pulled.

            What worked/works for us is a multi-faceted approach:
            A) Rope halter - gives more control than a leather one, and she can accept it, unlike a chain shank
            B) Food - mare is insanely food motivated, so I treat her for appropriate responses
            C) Controlled torture - stab with a toothpick lightly, increasing pressure. I didn't spend 10 minutes doing this, but did it 3-4 times twice a day. She eventually learned she wasn't going to die. I used the same procedure with the mane - pull a few strands, quit before she got out of control - and can now pull it with little to no fuss.
            D) Drugs - the vet still sedates her (IV) as soon as she gets to the farm. She wears aforementioned rope halter for this. Vet sweet talks her up for a bit, sticks her, horse usually jumps a bit sideways, neither one of us makes a big deal about it because that will make her escalate. Gives shot, follows with scratches and cookies.

            My horse has improved ten-fold as she flipped over for shots with her last owner. I worked with her quite a bit before the vet came out the first time and we were able to IV sedate right away. It added $30 to my bill but is worth not having a fight.

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            • #26
              I found that my needle phobic horse was truly frightened ONLY by the sight of the needles coming, not the pinch as it went in, so our extremely useful solution was to blindfold him with a towel, scratch, scratch, scratch his neck - stick him, and done. He NEVER moves even an inch when he's getting stuck so I doubt it's the actual PAIN of the shot. He's truly just afraid of the vet, and the sight of needles, like a silly person might be. He also gets lots of treats before his "procedures." He has been like this for the 12 years I've owned him, so I don't try to change anything that works!

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              • #27
                Did you see my thread about giving injections in the pectoral muscles? My friend who recommended it had a mare that hated shots. My friend could only give them in the neck with the help of her vet or trainer. Since she's starting using the pecs, the mare doesn't mind at all, and she can do it by herseld. My mare also seems happier since I started giving injections in the pecs though she was pretty good to begin with.

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                • #28
                  Bumping this up because I'm now dealing with the same issue - in a very rural area where I can't always get a vet. This elephant-memoried pony runs backwards at the sight of the most experienced and well-equipped vet tech in the area, kicks and strikes out to avoid even a twitch, etc, etc. Rope halter, web halter and chain shank, whatever, he'll sit back on any rope and strike out at anyone once he feels a needle go in. He's not mean, but he gets panicky about vet stuff (bad memories of gelding and post-op complication care).

                  Since he won't tolerate the techs getting close, I and his regular keeper/food guy got a shot in him once in his pen. We distracted him with his favorite food. Today he was wary but OK until he felt the needle go in his neck, and then the war was on if we tried to get near his neck to finish the shot. He wasn't mean on the ground, but panicky once he felt the needle. I might get a twitch on him for ONE shot, then he's likely to give me the same war against twitches he gives the vet techs.

                  Our vet from 3 hours away will be bringing me some oral sedatives and we'll see how much those help. In the days between shots I was able to pinch skin, etc. and didn't get any reaction. He instantly picks up if I'm trying to screen his vision (probably my vibes, but I'm the handler that's available) and watches any second person around. But the needlestick and the anticipation of what comes after is what sets him off, and he can tell a bluff from a real shot attempt.

                  My question is:
                  1) The vet who sent his Adequan trial said we needed to use the 18 gauge needle because of viscosity. The 'local' vet suggests using the smallest needle possible. Has anyone here done OK giving Adequan by using something thinner that hurts less going in?

                  2) Those with needle-phobic horses, have you found the oral sedatives take enough off their fear that they will respond to the desensitization training above?
                  HAS provides hospital care to 340,000 people in Haiti's Artibonite Valley 24/7/365/earthquake/cholera/whatever.
                  www.hashaiti.org blog:http://hashaiti.org/blog

                  Comment


                  • #29
                    Addition: Just fed him dinner and made him eat it with a rope halter on and me holding the lead. He objected to a toothpick enough that I stood there and stroked his shoulder, made him accept me holding him while he ate. He caught on pretty quick that this was Just a Drill and was fine with it. Breakfast, I'll do the toothpick thing again.

                    But you can't tell ME, let alone HIM, that a toothpick is the same sensation as putting a needle in the muscle! and the blowups have been between needle insertion and getting the meds connected and injected.
                    HAS provides hospital care to 340,000 people in Haiti's Artibonite Valley 24/7/365/earthquake/cholera/whatever.
                    www.hashaiti.org blog:http://hashaiti.org/blog

                    Comment


                    • #30
                      I would highly recommend twitching her... We had a similar horse with a similar reaction to shots...twitching worked like a charm.
                      Just be aware that some horses will react to a twitch by rearing and striking.
                      I found out the hard way.

                      NJR
                      Your beliefs don't make you a better person, your behaviour does.

                      Comment


                      • #31
                        Originally posted by HorsesinHaiti View Post

                        My question is:
                        1) The vet who sent his Adequan trial said we needed to use the 18 gauge needle because of viscosity. The 'local' vet suggests using the smallest needle possible. Has anyone here done OK giving Adequan by using something thinner that hurts less going in?
                        The practice I work at uses 20 gauge for Adequan. It takes a little longer to inject but it works fine. The only thing we use an 18 for super thick stuff, like Excede or PPG.

                        Comment


                        • #32
                          NJR, the local vet tech can vouch for that!

                          FV, I'll remind our vet that I'll need the smaller gauge needles. Knowing her she's already planned to bring them along with the sedative.
                          HAS provides hospital care to 340,000 people in Haiti's Artibonite Valley 24/7/365/earthquake/cholera/whatever.
                          www.hashaiti.org blog:http://hashaiti.org/blog

                          Comment


                          • #33
                            slap slap slap poke is how I do IM shots. We have had luck with twitching during an IM injection.

                            Comment


                            • #34
                              I'm pretty sure someone mentioned it here already, as I haven't read all the responses... "Punching" is one way, but I know plenty of horses that quickly associate the beating up with a needle. Its also not all that affective to "desensitize" the area.

                              I've had a number of vets show me and I've done it for a number of years now, and on many needle shy horses. Pinch the skin and at the same time push hard into the flesh of the pinched area. I hold it for about a minute, while pushing hard into the one spot - then in a single move - smooth - insert the needle.

                              Most horses don't even flinch or act like they just had a needle. I also only will give a shot in the neck - I learned the hard way, a needle to the bum means I'm risking getting a kick in retaliation and IF something should ever happen with the injection site, its harder to let the infection drain if its up high on the bum. Where the neck just naturally drains.

                              Comment


                              • #35
                                I love the pinching the skin method. SO easy to use. However we have one mare that has to be sedated for an IV pull (coggins). I can give her an IM shot without issue, but as soon as you go for the vein she has the same exploding behavior. Any suggestions for a horse that will tolerate IM but not IV? Twitch does not work, stocks do not work.
                                Maria Hayes-Frosty Oak Stables
                                Home to All Eyez On Me, 1998 16.2 Cleveland Bay Sporthorse Stallion
                                & FrostyOak Hampton 2008 Pure Cleveland Bay Colt
                                www.frostyoaks.com

                                Comment


                                • #36
                                  Originally posted by Duramax View Post
                                  I found that doing IM injections in the pecs helped ease the drama for my needle phobic guy.

                                  On a side note, euthanizing the needle phobic horse that has a broken leg was a $hit-tastic experience.
                                  I've put down a pony with a broken leg before, and it's my nightmare scenario for Hoover.

                                  I haltered him and stood by this morning while he ate. He still gets really peeved at both finger flicks and toothpick pokes to the neck - like glares and scoots back ready to flick hooves at me peeved. I can certainly make him work on a lead, and only let him stand and rest if he lets me flick and poke.

                                  But it brought up another thought - the doggy 'mailman scenario'. Why do dogs bark at the mailman to make him go away? Because in a dog's mind, it works, he goes! I might get this pony to tolerate flicks and pokes with no needle. But it will likely be because he realizes there is no needle. Or worse will think he ran us off from giving the needle. After all, he's succeeded before, and I'll wind up leaving without using an actual needle so it must have worked, right? I can just see the wheels in his head turning in that direction.

                                  Have folks here consistently found that horses eventually chill and desensitize, or have you found some that simply recognize 'drill' from 'there's a real needle' and still blow up as bad or worse when the real shot comes into play?
                                  HAS provides hospital care to 340,000 people in Haiti's Artibonite Valley 24/7/365/earthquake/cholera/whatever.
                                  www.hashaiti.org blog:http://hashaiti.org/blog

                                  Comment


                                  • #37
                                    My mare eventually chilled out to the point that we can sedate her to do her teeth and stuff now. We will see how she does this spring as I am breeding her and she may need to be timed in, which is, of course, shots!

                                    I totally get what you are saying about the toothpick not being a needle thing, but for my mare at least, it was the initial stick of the needle that got her so worked up, so the toothpick helped her immensely.

                                    Comment


                                    • #38
                                      Several years ago I prepurchased a mare - and watched the vet hold the halter in left hand, run around the stall with her, aiming the needle (with right hand) at a vein to draw blood. He actually hit that vein which was quite impressive. Though the mare was VERY fun to ride, and pretty talented there was a part of me that was relieved when she didn't vet well. Vet suggested that she would need "aggressive maintenance" on hocks. That was a deal breaker - especially when I started thinking about the needles needed to do stuff like that! Reading this thread makes me more relieved!
                                      We don't get less brave; we get a bigger sense of self-preservation........

                                      Comment


                                      • #39
                                        I finally got the search function to work better, and found this article on another thread:

                                        http://research.vet.upenn.edu/Portal...%20Shyness.pdf

                                        Some interesting ideas there. Doesn't sound like 'mailman syndrome' is a big risk if you go slow enough with the conditioning and watch for a good positive stopping point.
                                        HAS provides hospital care to 340,000 people in Haiti's Artibonite Valley 24/7/365/earthquake/cholera/whatever.
                                        www.hashaiti.org blog:http://hashaiti.org/blog

                                        Comment


                                        • #40
                                          Originally posted by HorsesinHaiti View Post
                                          Have folks here consistently found that horses eventually chill and desensitize, or have you found some that simply recognize 'drill' from 'there's a real needle' and still blow up as bad or worse when the real shot comes into play?
                                          My horse did not ever eventuall chill out. Months of careful, progressive desensitization flew right out the window when a real needle was used. He did hold still for a moment when the needle went in, then freaked and broke away and ran into the wall when we reached up to attach the syringe.

                                          You asked about oral sedatives in an earlier post. This horse blew right through a tube of Dormosedan gel and panicked. Good luck to you, this is such a stressful situation for both of you.
                                          --o0o--

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