Mare scared of vet/needles - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 9 Old 02-09-2019, 03:09 PM Thread Starter
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Mare scared of vet/needles

I have a 12 year old mare that rears and bites at the vet when it comes time for her vaccinations, she has a lot of general fear issues and was poorly started. it is to the point that she can barely be handled when the vet comes and it gets quite dangerous. I live pretty far as I am in school an hour away and am moving 4 hours away in the spring. What can I do to help resolve the issue with the opportunities I have. She is generally very spooky and hot and my parents have been trying to get me to sell her for years but I cant just give up on her. She reacts well for the most part with me and has been getting better but hates most men and is very distrusting and has been abused before I purchased her.
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post #2 of 9 Old 02-09-2019, 03:37 PM
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Desensitize her by standing near her should out of teeth and hoof reach. Then just tap her neck with your finger in the general location where a shot goes. Just tap-tap-tap. She will protest and freak out, but get her calm and begin again. Soon she'll realize that it isn't hurting. I do this a few days before shot day, just keep tapping until all is calm. Then on shot day, have the vet do the same thing - tap until she's quiet then give the shot and it's all done. No fuss, no stress.
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post #3 of 9 Old 02-09-2019, 06:30 PM
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Originally Posted by Liz.e3399 View Post
She reacts well for the most part with me and has been getting better but hates most men and is very distrusting and has been abused before I purchased her.
Abused by a man is not something the horse will easily forget...
Men have a different odor than women has been told to me many times due to hormones and physical body build.
We humans may not notice, or we can also understand and process those smell assaults to our senses...but our more simple minded horses associate that smell, the size and bulk, the timbre of a male voice....
And brain function reverts back to who did the abusing and you get what you got.
Vets also have a medicinal smell to them that many animals find offensive and object to...
I equate it to going to the dentist office and the smell of the office that meets your nose when you open the door...yuck.
I feel for the horse.

How do you go around the farrier issue since it is more common a male farrier than female yet today...
Is it just the vet or do you also have issue with a farrier?
Rough situation because in emergent care you are going to have one huge problem on your hands...and threat to everyone's safety.
I wish there was a magic cure but no it does not exist....
Time and her being repeatedly exposed to men and soft handling, patience, kindness is the only thing I know of to try to work the situation to a better level...
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post #4 of 9 Old 02-09-2019, 07:27 PM
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I agree. Time and many men with soft voices, gentle hands and plenty of treats. It took my mare three solid months of hubs feeding her exclusively and 6 of him mostly and another couple of the neighbors hhubbies generously scritching and doling out apples and cookies to get her to stop running from men.

Some horse people change their horse, they change their tack and discipline, they change their instructor; they never change themselves.
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post #5 of 9 Old 02-09-2019, 07:28 PM
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Dang phone left out years. Another couple of years.

Some horse people change their horse, they change their tack and discipline, they change their instructor; they never change themselves.
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post #6 of 9 Old 02-11-2019, 08:05 AM Thread Starter
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Its hard to come by men with soft voices for me, all the men in my life are very harsh and are the ones saying to just sell her because she is "dangerous" poor girl winds up twitched and all sorts of attempts of control are used on her. She is fantastic with the farrier because I am in training to be a farrier and so her feet are constantly poked at and messed with. Its mostly needles and having her udders cleaned can cause a pretty mild protest. Took me 6 months to get her to where she gets in a trailer without rearing and kicking.
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post #7 of 9 Old 02-11-2019, 11:04 AM
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My Walka was terrified of vets and needles in particular. Always assumed it was from his early years of operations to "fix" the ryes nose he was born with.

Took a wonderfully kind and gentle male vet, who worked with me to set Walka up for a better experience. He showed me pressure points to help ease Walka's stress and then we found the best position for Walka and for our safety. For Walka we placed him at an angle in his stall by the door. He could see a way out, but could opt to stay with me. I would cup his eye on the side the vet was and with my other hand, feed him treats while I spoke to him reassuringly.

Now he is so chill that he practically runs to his spot and waits for his treats!

Oh yes, another thing I did to help desensitize him to the procedure, was to pinch him in the V of his neck where the needle would go, while giving him treats.

Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the floor each morning the devil says, "Oh crap, she's up!".
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post #8 of 9 Old 02-11-2019, 04:50 PM
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This is a case of lack of respect and trust.

I have come across this many times, not just with needles but also with clipping.

Horses frighten themselves if they don't have trust in their handlers. When they get het up the handler is most likely to A) get frightened or het up themselves, B) expect the horse to misbehave because it always does, C) pacifying with trying to soothe them and calm them down.

It doesn't work.

When a horse acts in this way I will get after them letting them know that I am totally displeased with their behaviour. I do not beat them up but I will chase them around the stable spinning them fast, arm waving and growling at them. They think that I am the devil himself. They are then way more concerned about what I might do than of the vet or the needle.

I know this sounds terrible and you will think that it will make the horse worse but, done correctly it does work.

Failing wanting to do this use a nose twitch or put a thick blindfold on her so she cannot see what is coming.

My niece then aged about 15 was on a work experience with my vet. They went to a horse that had been injured to remove the stitches from a back leg.
My niece had hold of the horse and as soon as the vet went to pick the leg up the horse kicked out and meant it. My niece immediately got after the horse. Then stood it still. It never moved whilst the stitches were removed.
The owner was upset about her poor horse having been chastised in such a manner but when the vet pointed out that my niece had saved her a lot of money because the horse didn't have to be doped and him having to take a lot longer to get the job done.
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post #9 of 9 Old 02-11-2019, 05:05 PM
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We used clicker training to help overcome Lou's dangerous fear of needles.
I was never a 'believer' in anything like that but it worked for her and I'm now a convert!
It isn't an overnight magical thing - you have to put some time and patience into it. I won't say that she loves needles now, she still tenses up but deals with it and no trying to kill the vet anymore.
I also recommend always having a bridle on a difficult horse like yours and have them in a contained area but with room to stay safe yourself if they do explode

Just winging it is not a plan
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