Does your horse come running to you when he sees the paste wormer in your hand? Does he practically attack you trying to get that tube into his mouth? Or is your horse like most everyone else’s and completely wise to what is contained in that white tube? He probably heads for the hills at first sign of it doesn’t he? Well I’ll share with you two very easy steps that I use to get my horses to gladly take their medicine!
Horses are a lot smarter than most people give them credit for. But they are also pattern learners, which can work as both an advantage and disadvantage. If every time you come out with a paste worming tube in your hand your horse gets a mouthful of nastiness, of course they are going to quickly get wise to you. Pretty soon giving oral medications of any kind becomes a huge ordeal for you and your horse. We get in a big fight with them, they start avoiding, throwing their head in the air, etc. Then we get mad and frustrated and our horse picks up on that, escalating the cycle. Now maybe you are lucky enough to have a horse that just puts up with whatever we do to it, but wouldn’t it be nice if you could make it completely painless for everyone and turn that around so that your horse thought it was actually a good thing? I don’t want my horses to think that every time I come out to the barn I’m going to do something to them. I would like for them to actually look forward to my visits.
Here’s a great way to reuse those empty paste tubes and set the stage for easy medicating in the future.
Step 1 – Wash those old paste tubes and fill with something like honey, apple sauce or some other treat that your horse will like. Then go out and offer it to your horse every day for a week (give or take a day or two). That’s usually long enough to make a positive pattern out of it.
Step 2 – Coat the outside of the tube containing your dewormer or other medication. Offer it to your horse. Yes, it’s that easy! Make sure you always follow up with your original yummy tube treat.
Then make sure now and again throughout the month you give the treat filled tube so that your horse will never pick up on a “pattern” that they can figure out when the tube has the medication in it. Your horse will just think that every now and again you’ve gotten a “bad batch” of goodies. This is the key to the whole process! Keep it unpredictable and it just won’t matter. Now and again you will get a horse that can always tell when the tube has something different in it. In these cases, I try and mix up the contents from time to time and if I have to give something that has a really strong taste or smell, I add something like a couple of drops of peppermint essential oil to overpower it.
HINT: Cut the tip of the tube off for easier dispensing of thicker mixtures like mashes.
Watch the video below to see just how easy it can be to get your horse to take a wormer tube and actually enjoy it without even needing to halter them!
Lisa Carter is a Certified Equine Massage Therapist (CEMT), with multiple certifications from several different equine bodywork schools. She incorporates her knowledge and experience with Parelli Natural Horsemanship, equine bodywork and as a veterinary technician to provide her clients with the resources they need to make informed decisions for their horses. She encourages and facilitates network building between equine health care professionals, working together to find the best combination of therapies to meet the needs of the “whole horse”.
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