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Administer Dewormer

  When it's time to deworm your horse, he may have other ideas. He may throw his head up in an impressive giraffe impersonation or atttempt to stick his head in the ground like an ostrich. Some horses are just sneaky and appear to have taken the dose, then promptly spit it out, while others manage to divert the paste back on to you when you push the plunger!  However, making sure your horse gets the proper amount is important so the medicine can do it's job as well as prevent worm resistance by minimal exposure that allows worms to survive.

How do you get the wormer in an obstinate horse?

     The instructions say to place the syringe at the back of the mouth, and dispense the pre-measured amount and hold the horses head up for a few seconds until he has swallowed. Sounds simple enough, right? I find that many horses anticipate the nasty flavor and texture and will try many tricks to avoid taking the wormer.  
     I don't hide the tube in a vain attempt to suprise them, they soon figure out what I am doing anyway. I also don't try to blindfold or distract them by twitching lips; or tying their head short to immobilize them. That can become very dangerous, by the way. Horses are claustrophobic and have an innate ability to sense what you are going to do, and they hate sneaky predatory behavior. What I DO do is this: I simply let them see it coming. Being honest with them goes a long way to build trust in everything you do, and I don't like sneaky behavior myself. Even horses that have been the giraffes in the past object less with just allowing them to know whats going on. Then I put the tube in the mouth and remove, without dispensing the medicine. I do this several times until the horse leaves his head in a lower, relaxed position, then I do it a few more times for good measure. Now is when I adjust the dosage, put the tube in his mouth again and dispense the wormer. Then I push his chin up and massage his throat a little until I hear a swallow. I finish off by putting the tube in again, obviously not dispensing anything so the last thing I do is not put something nasty in his mouth. It's the law of averages. The more times you put that tube in without the paste coming out, the more trust he has that it's not always going to be a fight, or taste bad. If you ALWAYS have a root canal at the dentist, you dread it, but if you go for checkups and that's usually the worst that happens, then you probably don't mind going.  And that is how I suggest deworming your horse. It also helps desenstitize his face to bitting, oral exams and such.
         I also suggest you get your dosage right. Use the weight tapes and use the appropriate weight markers on the tubes. A margin of 100-200 lbs over is better than underdosing, but going too far over can cause tummy aches and is wasted medicine.Any left im the tube can be saved toward the next treatment or the next horse in your herd, as long as it is used with the same type of wormer. This saves you some money.
           Finally, some people save the worm tubes and put applesauce etc in them and "dose" their horses between wormings to leave a more pleasant taste in their mouths. I like that idea, but am generally too lazy to pursue it. However, they are great for mixing crushed bute with applesauce and dispensing accurate bute dosages that way, and can be used to flush wounds with water. Just be sure to wash the wormer syringe thoroughly.

Just to review, here are the steps to easy worming:

  • Place the tube in his mouth and remove several times until he relaxes. Do NOT attempt to force him to allow it. Start where you can and advance to placing it in his mouth. Taking this step usually causes him to spit out grass and hay in his mouth, so that makes it harder to spit out the wormer later.
  • After he is calm and allows you to insert the tube, adjust your dosage and dispense
  • Immediately hold his chin up and rub his throat until he swallows.
  • Insert empty tube again to reinforce the idea that you won't always be injecting medicine and don't quit until he is calm.