Freaking Out!!!!!.... Please help
We have a mare that we are trying to give shots to. She starts backing up and ends up rearing up and trying to hurt the person handling her. If this continues she will kill her self when she rears up to high and falls over backwards. (Trust me, I have seen it happen!)
What can we do to help her to calm down and not act so stupid.
In emergency situations, like needing to do medical treatment to a non-cooperative horse. We take a couple of fence panels and make a sort of squeeze chute. You can use one or 2 panels and a barn wall or just panels and sort of press the horse into a small enough space they can't move.
When Sassafras had mastitis we just took portable panels and made a sort of V with her head in the narrow part. It kept us from getting injured. We've also used gates and a wall to contain foals that needed doctored.
If you have some panels it sure makes it a lot easier.
I would not try to squeeze shoot this reactive horse without a real squeeze shoot. She is very likely to go right over the top of someone.
As for what to do about her, you need to start with respect. (And I speak from experience. My mare used to require stocks, sedation and a twitch to get an injection in her) Some plain and simple ground work to teach her to respect you and that she needs to stand and allow whatever you are trying to do needs to happen before you try to give her anymore shots. This isn't going to be a simple one-time thing--you need to start these lessons when you have plenty of time to work with her and when you are in a relaxed mood. Have a good halter and long enough lead to lunge her (and a lunging whip if one is required to lunge her) and several toothpicks or a good fingernail.
Out in a roundpen, paddock or even the pasture and with her on a lead, make the same sort of moves that you do prior to giving her an injection--tapping, pinching, etc. If she moves away or acts up, send her off and work her for a few minutes---make sure you keep her moving pretty quickly and make her change directions a couple of times. Then try the motion again. If she acts up--send her off to work again. Repeat this process until she stands for the motions of giving her a shot all the way through tapping/pinching and giving her a little poke with a toothpick or your nail. Each time she stands, give her a little rest and pat her. Once you can do this a few times in a row, call it a day. This may take more than an hour the first time, so be prepared to spend some time on it. You need to repeat this process 3 days in a row at least and then after that go out once or twice a week and just randomly go through the same thing-call it a refresher coarse ;) Doing it repeated will help her to retain the lesson. Then anytime you know you are going to have to give her shots, go out the day before and give her another refresher. It's amazing how quickly they will learn to stand and behave. My mare now stands quietly without even a halter/lead to get vaccinations or blood drawn.
You need to find out WHY she's acting this way. Does she have bad ground manners in general? Is she sacred of needles? Does she always act up in the barn? Does she act up only when more than one person is around her? etc.
Once you can identify the cause, you can work on a solution.
If she has bad ground manners in general (is always scared or witchy), then she needs some serious training BEFORE you attempt to give her shots or any other medical attention.
If training doesn't help, then she might have something medically wrong with her. Call a vet that is willing to tranqualize her so he/she can do a full work up to find out what's wrong.
I would also make sure she's on a "calm" diet of grass hay/pasture only, with little to no sweet feed or feed pellets. Some horses can react very negatively to diets high in sugars and starches.
MY DIL's mare would do this too. She would also leap over a farrier if she couldn't get away from them. She was just being rotten cuz my DIL said she was not naughty for her original farrier. She had gotten to where she would do that rear and leaping around with the vet. Once my vet got hold of her she got an attitude adjustment and is much better now. Tho she still loves to yank my chain.
Basically he did what Ryle is telling you. Tho I believe he did more backing up than lunging. For her I believe that worked much better as she is very evasive if she thinks she's running away. IE round penning/lunging. I wouldn't use a squeeze on her either as when pressured/cornered she would try to go thru the handler. Oh she minds great for her mommy. lol
The problem with backing a horse that is misbehaving and trying to evade something is that they learn to just back up to evade things. At least with lunging they are working hard and I'm hardly working so if they want to "self lunge" to try and evade whatever they can give it a go but I can guarantee they will get tired of it before I will ;)
Ryle, I disagree. Done correctly either method will do the job. Backing up is work the same as lunging is. Done wrong lunging doesn't work either. ;) I can guarantee you that mare does NOT back up to evade anything around here. LOL I believe it is the manner in which you back the horse. Intent, same as when you lunge them.
Answers to questions asked.
1. Does she have bad ground manners? In my opinion, No. She is very respectful when being handled. Follows you like a dog without any hands on the lead rope. She will stand ground tied for an unlimited amount of time. She will stand while being saddled (Ground tied or someone holding her). She responds to all cues when being ridden or worked on the ground (Lunging).
2. Does she act "Freaky" when more than one person handles her? Myself I have tried to give shots and have had the same problems when two people handle her.
3. Is she scared of needles? I don't know... I would guess so. You can approach her with a needle showing, but once you start to try to insert the needle to medicate, she FREAKS!
If worse comes to worse, can you orally tranq her?
So, then go about grooming her or whatever until the Ace has taken FULL effect (20-30 minutes). You want her sleepy looking, but not falling over. When she's nice and sleepy, have someone distract her by brushing her neck. Go to her haunches with the needle hidden and turn your back to her. Rub her hip with your free hand, then pinch the skin a few times between your fingers. Time your needle stick with a pinch. Be sure to plunge as you poke and stay light on your feet so you can jump out of the way! I would do all of this OUTSIDE with the mare untied. You don't want her to back anyone into a corner or break a cross tie.
I would suggest having your vet do all of this though. Your vet will have more experience in timing a poke and being able to get out of the way. Tell the vet that you want this to be a training exercise as well, so the mare can start getting over her fear. Ask the vet to explain to you what he/she is doing, so you can try it yourself next time.
Also, I would ask your vet if he can use a topical numbing agent, Maybe if the horse doesn't feel the poke so much, she won't freak out. ?
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