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Getting Meds into Horses
 By Winniefield Park   •   15th May 2018   •   560 views   •   0 comments


Need to take a pill? Most of us just pop it in our mouths and wash it down with some water. But, itís not quite so easy to get your horse to take itís medicines. While some of us might have trouble getting pills down, we know it must be done and find a way to do it. But, horses see no reason to take something in their mouths that isnít food, and will resist, sometimes quite vigorously. Getting medications into your horse easily is something you need to prepare for long before your horse needs to take medications.

As a youngster, your horse should learn to accept your handling of its mouth. This means you should teach your horse to accept your fingers on its lips, gums and tongue. And, it should learn to accept syringes in its mouth. This can be done by filling an empty paste wormer tube with something yummy and teaching it to accept that. Your horse might accept putting the tube in its mouth, or you might have to start by leaving the tube in its grain buckets a few days. Then, dip the end of the tube in something like apple sauce or molasses and touch its mouth with it. Gradually work up to putting the filled tube in its mouth. Then, when the real thing has to be given, your horse wonít put up a fight.

If youíve got powdered medication, you may be able to put it in the horseís feed. Some are flavoured so the horse will accept them. But, Pills are hard to give horses. Crushed pills hidden in feed usually doesnít work. Horses are more likely to pass up eating than eat food with medication in it. Or they will pick around it. Pills can sometimes be dissolved in water and mixed into a paste with something yummy like syrup or molasses. Or the can be crushed and mixed in. That way you can put them directly into the horseís mouth. Ask your vet what the best strategy will be. You might be able to hide smaller pills in balls of banana, apple slices, a marshmallow or some other food your horse likes. But horses have a keen sense of smell and may refuse even a favorite treat. Be careful with sugary treats if you have a horse with metabolic problems. Again, ask your vet what you should mix the meds with.

Giving medication is easier if there are two people - one to hold the horse and the other to administer the medicine. If youíre alone, youíll want to tie your horse in cross ties. Your horse wonít swallow a pill whole, unless itís very small, so have your medication crushed, mixed and put into a large syringe. Hold the nose band of the halter and slide the syringe as far back on the tongue as you can put it. Hopefully you can do this quickly enough that the horse doesnít pull back, or spit out the concoction. To prevent the horse spitting out the medication, hold its head up and gently stroke itís throat to encourage it to swallow.

Sometimes, if you have a real struggle to get meds into a horse, you might have to resort to using a twitch. If you donít know how to do this, it best to have someone experienced help you. Twitches can be dangerous to both horse and handler. But, they can be an effective last resort if used properly. Thatís why it the long run, itís easier to train a horse before you have to give it medication, than struggle with one that refuse to take meds.
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