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Ear/Nose Twitching
 Moderated by: DrDeb  
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Joined: Fri Mar 30th, 2007
Posts: 3321
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 Posted: Mon Jun 14th, 2010 10:36 pm
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Brandy, think about the tension in YOURSELF that can go up on an increase when:

1) You give a shot (you yourself may have 'issues' with shots; you'll have to get over them completely before you can give an animal a shot without provoking the same fear of the shot that you have yourself, in the animal).

2) There is someone besides yourself handling your horse. Once you have decided to employ a given vet, then you have to LET them do their job the best they know how. Don't hover, don't talk to them while they are working with or on your mare. Even leave the area might be better. An old, experienced vet once said to me, "yeah, I give more shots for the owner than I ever give for the horse."

I have never advised that you "pretend" to give a shot with a needle. A nail is fine. If you get the needle, then that's the day and the hour that you're actually going to give the shot.

Understand, Brandy, that getting a horse 100% OK on the inside is NOT emphasize *N*O*T* about getting them "used" to the needle. What you are doing instead is educating the horse with regard to "how to receive a shot and have the least hassle and discomfort for yourself". What you want to provoke is a REALIZATION -- not a HABITUATION. Habituation -- which is the proper term for what some people call 'desensitizing' -- absolutely does not work. We NEVER want to 'desensitize'. We want to educate. Do you 'desensitize' your talented child when he shows an interest in the piano? Is 'desensitization' the reason why the child is made to take a piano lesson twice a week?

This applies to every specific thing around mannering, just as much as it does to the specific situation of giving a shot. Every single thing you do around horses is a 'specific thing'.

So what you are doing is you are showing the horse that it is no big deal. You let the horse see the needle and smell of it before you stick it in her. If she rolls her eyes, throws her head up, and steps backward, well then, you just follow her on back until she stops, and then you offer her to smell the apparatus again, and as many times again until that is totally boring. You don't come "at" her with anything, but you don't give up, either, no matter how much of a tantrum she throws.

Then when smelling it is no big deal, you educate her neck with regard to it. You hold it in your hand and while you are holding it, you rub the back of your hand along her neck. This would be exactly the same way you would introduce, let us say, a towel or a new piece of grooming equipment that she seemed afraid of. Or a whipstock. You rub it on them until they have seen it, they have felt it TO THEIR SATISFACTION which may be a great deal many MORE rubs than it would take to bring it to YOUR satisfaction. YOUR satisfaction doesn't matter in this situation.

Once she's at the "no big deal" stage about having the needle in your hand rubbing on her neck, it's time to actually give the shot. Understand we are talking here about an INTRAMUSCULAR (I-M) injection, which you are qualified and legally permitted to give, and for which you have a huge "target" area, consisting of the lower triangle of the neck. So you move your hand to the target area, and as I describe in the other threads you have read, you roll your hand over and you push the needle in there with the same quality, speed, and force you would use to push a thumbtack into a corkboard (it's just a longish thumbtack).

The only moment when this actually hurts is during the time when the tip of the needle is actually penetrating the skin. Even the coarsest horse's skin in the lower triangle of the neck is hardly thicker than four sheets of paper. So from this you know that PAIN is not what the mare is objecting to. It hurts her no more to receive a shot than to be bit by a horsefly -- actually, less.

What she IS reacting to is:

1. Her own will, which she still has the belief is, or should be, surpreme;

2. Your fears, which you are conveying by your own altered breathing;

3. Memory of previous situations in which both 1. and 2. were operative.

You get this part cleaned up, Brandy, and there will be no further trouble. Getting yourself put together here will also have good ramifications for all other aspects of your horse handling and riding. -- Dr. Deb


Joined: Mon Aug 10th, 2009
Posts: 31
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 Posted: Mon Jun 14th, 2010 11:02 pm
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Ah, I think you have found me out.  I don't mind getting shots but I do mind giving them to my own horses.  And I have big anxiety about someone else handling my horses, especially this one.

As I suspected, the problem is me.


Joined: Fri Mar 23rd, 2007
Location: Nr. Frome, Somerset, United Kingdom
Posts: 158
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 Posted: Thu Jun 17th, 2010 10:11 pm
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Dont want to be quarrelsome, but, I thought you said it didn't take any time at all to sort out this issue with training a horse to accept the needle for injections - I was lambasted for having some kind of preconceived silly ideas on training times required when I suggested the owner may not have time to re-educate a horse (or mule) before an essential  vet visit - (I think it was to rasp the teeth of an uneducated mule in the original post) - and if the equine needed drug treatments, I suggested that 'thump, thump, thump in' was a simple means to an end if the careful rolling in of the end of needle tip you described was not possible because it had not been practiced already on that horse in preparation,  yet here you are stating: '

Because the alternative for the vet is to drug the horse, and that's an extra amount on the bill. Sometimes, too, though, you get a horse that is in need of immediate treatment and it won't take a shot, either; in which case physical restraint becomes the only option'.

- and this is the most shocking part - '

In that case the animal will be twitched and then have one or more legs tied up, or else be thrown and tied.'

In UK, in all of my years of work as a vet nurse I have seen many horses successfully nose twitched in order to administer essential drugs (but never ear twitched, as this is totally barbaric and only practiced by a cruel few) and this has been to good effect  and with no obvious lasting detriment, but I have never, ever heard of - or seen - ANY horse thrown or leg tied by a vet to have any procedure carried out whatsoever -  yet you insinuated that 'good' UK vets are - by and large -  not up to speed in comparison to 'good' USA vets on humane injection procedures.  I find that rather contradictory. It seems to me that it would be very severe to throw a horse down - even when done skillfully -  and I am sure that the horse would never forget that experience.

In the post where I was acccused - and probably rightly - of holding assumptions about training a horse to accept injections politely, I was told this:

Jacquie: Again, your post is illustrative of a set of ASSUMPTIONS that you hold. The tacit assumption here is that it must take a lot of time to get a horse to where he will stand for an injection or for anything else. I don't share this assumption, and I think it is an obligation of every horse owner, as soon as they acquire the animal, to teach it manners, including how to stand to have its feet picked up and its mouth examined and its sheath or udder manipulated, and to take injections.
In reality, it takes only a few days to do this, even if the horse appears to be a total screwball or is as wild and unfamiliar with people as a mustang.

Its a very different world in USA compared to thge UK.

Last edited on Thu Jun 17th, 2010 10:40 pm by Jacquie

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