My camera got left in the house this morning, because I was more interested in getting the MUD off of the mares before Dr. Miller arrived to administer the annual vaccinations.
(I'd love to bathe the horses prior to injections, just to minimize the amount of junk that gets pushed under the skin at the injection site, but that is So. Not. Happening. in the Swampland in early March, sigh).
(However, did you notice that we have MUD again? The sn*w is finally melting!!!!)
I've seen plenty of horses at endurance rides who are not tolerent of a basic vet exam, let alone needles. Not just green endurance horses, either--I've seen plenty of experienced horses with experienced riders who, for whatever reason, see no problem with their 1200-pound monster leaping all over the pulsers and the vets. Whassup wit dat?
Let me tell ya: if your horse won't stand reasonably still for a pulse, I won't pulse it. I'm not getting paid to pulse horses, and I'm not insured to pulse horses, so if somebody brings me a knucklehead for a pulse at a ride and it wants to play freight train, I step politely aside and ask the owner to come back again when the horse can stand. I've seen vets pull unruly horses from competition because they couldn't be examined safely...but not nearly often enough, IMHO!
Having said that, it's been a priority to train my own horses to accept vet intrusions, especially Fiddle with her bad attitude and "body space issues". Let's face it: I'd rather practice this stuff at home, in daylight, under the roof, during a scheduled exam, than try to teach a horse to behave when she's bleeding in a field someplace.
Here's how we do it at Haiku Farm:
* Horse is cross-tied or on a leadrope.
* Vet approaches, greets the horse with a stroke and some words, takes a pulse and a temp. When the thermometer goes in the back end of the horse, a cookie gets stuffed in the front end.
****(Horse: "Hey, um?? Cookie?" )****
* Vet gives injection #1. At the same time, I stuff a cookie in the horse's mouth.
****(Horse: "Huh. Cookie!" )
* Vet gives injection #2. I stuff in another cookie.
****( Horse: "Cookie! Cookie!" )
repeat until injections are finished.
Then, the horse gets an extra cookie, just because.
The intran-nasal is a little trickier, because having a long skinny straw stuck up a nostril is something that no horse can really ignore.
We start with me, rubbing the nostril with a thumb. Then the inside of the nostril. Then (icky, I know--you can wear rubber gloves if you want) further into the nostril. Then it's the vet's turn: outside, then edge, then in with a finger. There are cookies throughout this exercise, but only when the horse is standing quietly, allowing the intrusion. By the time the long skinny straw gets shoved up the nose, the horse will just stand, waiting for a cookie.
How long did all that training take? Well, about 4 years, total. We practice for at least 5 minutes, once or twice per year, preferably the night before the vet comes out. Or....not. Because sometimes I forget. So, real time: about 30 minutes, for two horses, over the space of four years.
The horses NEVER forget:
Dr Miller = cookies.
What kind of stuff do you do to make your vets visit easier, Dear Readers?