“No Drama Worming” for the Lazy Horse Person

horse taking wormer

How to give wormer, medication, or electrolytes without battling the horse

Battling the horse for any reason is never a good idea. Even if we manage to muscle our way to goal achievement, both horse and human are left with a bad taste in their mouth, wormer or not. Any interaction between horse and human should be one of mutual understanding and cooperation, whenever possible.

Even the most well-meaning horse people, however, cave under the task of giving their horse an oral dose of wormer. Even for those, who practice fecal testing, it does become necessary to administer the foul-tasting chemical to the animal from time to time. No, I don’t buy the ‘apple flavor’! My horse’s face tells me that the stuff is not equine Godiva…

Over time, I have observed the following futile attempts to get the horse to accept the syringe and swallow the wormer:

  • Ear twitching (very, very dangerous to the horse’s ear cartilage!!!)
  • Tongue twitching (danger of fracturing small bones inside and connected to tongue!!!)
  • Use of nose twitch (while not downright dangerous, should be reserved for real emergencies)
  • Desperately hanging on to the halter (will help you spread wormer all over your new shirt)
  • Spreading the wormer over food (will entice the horse to spread the food all over the ground, this used to be my method of choice…)
  • and other similarly ineffective or drama-soaked techniques.

But what to do? The endurance riders among you probably already do it: You need to give your horse electrolytes during rides and probably practiced that with well-tasting syringe contents first. The trick is: Get your horse to happily accept syringes before approaching with the ill-tasting stuff!

apple sauce and syringe
An empty syringe and some apple sauce.

This is the solution that will solve the problem in the long run and make worming ‘a piece of cake’:

What you need:

  • Empty syringes (farm supply store)
  • Unsweetened apple sauce (individual serving cups work well)
  • Any type of halter
  • A little patience

Every time you see your horse, find an opportunity to fill a syringe with apple sauce and gently move your hand with the syringe around the horse’s mouth. In the beginning, your horse may react unfavorably, thinking you are approaching with the wormer.

apple sauce in syringe
Fill the syringe with apple sauce—several times, if needed.

Don’t insist that your horse look at the syringe, simply make it available around the horse’s head. Curiosity will eventually lead the horse to take a sniff and let you touch his lips with the syringe. While your goal is to eventually be able to squirt the contents into your horse’s mouth, take your time and plan for several sessions.

horse with wormer
For day 1, a soft eye around the syringe is a good goal.

Tips:

  • Don’t ‘push’ the syringe on the horse. Hold it near the horse’s mouth and let it be the horse’s idea to approach it.
  • Be satisfied with small progress. A soft eye, not moving away from the syringe, may be a good goal for the first day.
  • Don’t have an agenda. Your horse will tell you when he is ready to give this a try.
  • Let the horse think that it is his idea to take the syringe into his mouth.
  • From then on, it’s smooth sailing!

There will be some disappointment after the first time the syringe does not contain apple sauce, but you can remedy this by squirting apple sauce into the horse’s mouth right after the wormer. He’ll take his chances with you again.

Let me know how this worked for you and leave a comment!

Enjoy your horse!

Stefanie Reinhold

horse taking wormer
Let it be the horse’s idea!
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