Friday, August 8, 2008

This Was Worth the Try!

I have mentioned in the past that my spotted pill is a challenge to deworm. It takes someone strong to manhandle his nose into a twitch hold (no twitch, just hold his upper lip) for a second then he freezes and I can get the tube up there. One rotation of worming I am able to use a pellet wormer so that helps, but then it's back to the tube and Mr. Big Eyes Saddlebred-head appears.
When My Boy became injured last winter, I had to give him Bute. I did this by mixing it in a couple of handfuls of grain (he was not grained at that time) and he gobbled it right up. I did this last week before the farrier came out and it worked again.

I had the idea to try this with dewormer. I tested it out with my mom's gelding Dusty last month, who is equally challenging to deworm. We mixed his paste with apple slices and grain. It was not pretty. When all was said and done (he really wanted those apples) he did manage to get it down, but I think some of it was wasted.
This week it was My Boy's worming time again (I always worm when he's shod, easy to remember that way.) I bought an apple-flavored Ivermectin wormer. I knew that I was risking this being a wasted tube so I purchased the lesser expensive of the all the options. I squeezed it out on top of My Boy's supplement (this wormer was not a paste, but an apple-juice colored gel and it mixed in well with the supplement. It actually smelled like apples!) I then took the concoction out to My Boy at feeding time.

So, did it work? Well, at first bite, My Boy was a little surprised, I think unpleasantly so. He made a funny smacking sound and probably spit out half his bite. But then he went back for more. Made one more funny face, then, proceeded to lick the little bucket clean. Yeah! A worming session passed without major ado. Now, I do not think this will be as effective with a thicker, stickier paste wormer, those are more likely to add a strange texture and taste. I am thinking of getting creative and adding some treats and applesauce though. My Boy is easily tempted by sweets!

I saved the empty deworming tube and I'm going to clean it out and start using it with treats inside (applesauce) and see if I can desensitize my horse to this whole worming process. Has anyone done this with much success?


  1. I haven't had too much of a fight with any of our ponies so far. Raincloud isn't too easy but he's not horrible (hmmm, he's our Appy, is it an Appy thing!? lol)
    However your idea of saving an old tube and giving treats like applesauce in it is a good one. Or even buy a syringe that you can clean and reuse. Cleaning an old deworming tube may be tricky due to the label.
    One of the mags I read had an article with the same premise. It was awhile ago, and I can't remember which mag to refer you to.

  2. When I need to deworm unhandled horses, I mix the deworming paste into a big bucket of soaked beet pulp and oats. The beet pulp is easily digested, and its large volume dilutes the dewormer so much that I've never had a horse even seem to notice it's there. Perhaps My Boy would fall for that trick??

  3. I've heard that the old tube or a clean syringe with applesauce can work really well. Another one of those things we get to work on and overcome... I think I've seen a John Lyons article on that...

    You've done a lot of work on your boy, so I'm sure he'll respond to your patient way of working with him.

  4. My daughter's gelding is a challenge to worm. I like your idea of re-using the tube with items that he will like. Good idea that I will probably try.

  5. My Paint mare is very challenging to deworm like your boy, as you well know. It takes wrapping the leadrope around a post for leverage with me on the other end while my boyfriend gets on the other side of the fence. Once he gets his hand in her mouth he can than get the tube of dewormer in. We can't get a twitch on her nor get a hold of her nose.
    I have tried mixing bute in her grain and with her first bite she notices it has something in it and spits it out than she'll try to knock the bucket over. She will have nothing to do with it. It always amazes me that your boy will eat things in his grain!

  6. We work with all of our horses starting when they are really young, to let you stick a tube or a finger in their mouths. We don't have any trouble getting the tube in any of our horses mouths. I have never had to mix it with any feed. So, sorry I am not any help here. I did learn something new though, I never knew you could give it to them in their feed like that. I would just practice like you said with an old tube and reward him when he lets you put it in his mouth. Everything just takes time. Plus, My Boy really likes ya.

  7. Skip ahead a few steps in your PNH stuff there, and start teaching him head down on cue, too. (Wait- that was John I got that from... sorry...)

    Head down- easier to halter, easier to bridle, easier to medicate, and it is a control switch. Head is up, switch is on, adreneline can flow. Head is down, switch is off, and adreniline is saved for another time. ;)

    Sorry for typos here-- not enough bucket o' joe processed yet...

    Rub that spotted hiney from me!

  8. Oh girl you should try Iver-Ease I think that is the name of it. It is a powedered wormer you mix into there feed and has no taste. Not that expensive either!

  9. Oh, JJ is so difficult to deworm with paste. It is terrible actually. He never gets dangerous, but he throws his head over and over and over. We are slowly getting better at it, but it has never been fun. You idea of applesauce in the tube it pretty smart. I think I'll try it! Yay!

  10. My 25-year old mare hates tubes in her mouth, and I suspect it comes from the fact that one eye had to be removed many years ago and the care around that OD'd her on paste meds and anything around her face.

    When she came to live with us, I realized we really needed to work with her to make these basic things easy, b/c I don't use twitches and I'm just not willing to set up a battle I might not win trying to hold a horse's head still.

    We spent the first 3 months desensitizing her to being touched on her face and ears by making the morning grooming process a pleasure. No halter or tie, so she was free to move if she wanted to, but we used a small soft brush and a sponge and just did a little more each day, stopping before we went far enough to elicit resistance.

    She will now let us sponge her eyes, clean her ears, and hold her head in our hands (a useful thing if there's ever an injury to the face/head).

    The tubes - that took a bit longer, but what I discovered is that the thing she really hates is having the tip of the tube stuck into her mouth w/o warning. I let her see it and sniff it so she knows what's coming, and then I place the tube flat against her cheek and slide it down her face until I get to the corner of her lips. I never rush this. When she's quiet, and she is most of the time now, I slide the tube down so the tip is at the corner of her mouth and then slip it in.

    We don't have issues with the others - my horse will take a tube over his stall door and the 5-year old QH's only problem is that he wants to wrap his head around you while you give him the paste. We're working on that. The key seems to be to slow down and not try to force it to get it over with.

    While I think it's good to avoid a struggle and find other ways to get meds into them, I also think having a horse accept a tube w/o a big to-do is a useful thing to teach.

    I will occasionally fill my big tubing syringe with applesauce or something yummy and just take it to the barn and give everyone a taste of something good with it, just to keep things interesting. :)

    Oh, and re: the Bute - my vet has a buffered apple-flavored Bute powder made especially for his clients that smells heavenly and mixes in very easily to feed. I keep that on hand for the mare and give it 24 hours before and after her trims, as she has arthritic knees. If you need to use Bute on a regular basis ask your vet if he/she has this.

  11. I want to try that apple flavored stuff next time for sure. My 2 mares do fine with just placing the tube in their mouths, but of course hate the taste. I am going to try the apple sauce trick you mentioned with my colt, Toby. He has never had a tube in the mouth yet.
    thanks for sharing.

    I still have that award for you, come on by and grab it.
    happy horsin' around!

  12. I have the exact same Saddlebred-head issues with my "big horse" J. The only way I've had success is with the twitch. Some repeats with the applesauce every now and then has helped make it less of an issue but he still looks at me like a horse killer and shoots his head up when he sees the wormer come out of the pocket. I'm excited to try this new apple flavored gel. Last wormer session I had to dose him twice because most of the first tube ended up on the side of his face due to his head rolling. Thanks for the tip.

  13. Forgot to add, I think J can actually smell the difference between the wormer and the applesauce. So takes the applesauce grudgingly but still hates the paste.

  14. Ranchette~ I love it, horse killer, hee! That is exactly what my horse thinks. In fact, I'm beginning to think the applesauce in the syringe idea is really not going to fool him. Like you said, they can smell the difference. And how fair of it is to give him applesauce 7 times then fool him once with the nasty stuff? Like he's going to trust me the next time!? All I've done is trick him?

    I think it's not the tube itself, I can stick fingers or a bit in his mouth, clip his muzzle....i think it's really that icky tasting stuff. He has associated the tube with that paste. Not all wormers I need in the rotation are apple flavored, if they were, I would think after several worming sessions he would just get over it and look forward to it, like it was a treat.

    I do think you have to pick your battles. My vet even said that about vaccines. She said at his age he's mostly set in his ways and luckily vet visits aren't that often (knock on wood!) I'm not sure I agree with that 100%. But working on some of these issues takes time. I don't see my horse every day. In fact, come late fall and winter, I will only see him mostly on the weekends. That makes it hard to work on consistent desensitization.

  15. I think your applesauce in the syringe is a good idea. Make him look forward to getting wormed!

    I used to mix powdered butte with grain to feed...I'm so glad they make a paste now! It looked like a drug lap in my tack room, with pounded up bags of white powder everywhere! Good times.

    I wonder what soured him up to worming...its not like its painful or takes very long...30 seconds or so? IF that? Probably just another way he's testing you!

  16. Just to be clear - I'm not trying to "fool" my horses with applesauce or any other treat I offer to help with med taking - of course they know the difference and can smell what I have.

    It's simply to make the process pleasant sometimes so they don't totally dread it, AND to give us practice doing it without a struggle so we can carry that experience into the times when the paste is yucky.

  17. I have never heard of the applesauce trick, but worth a try. More head dropping and general mouth goofing would help I think.
    In the pic today it looks like your rope halter is tied backwards, when I did a week with Will Howe, they taught us to tie them tail part back, or "tail to tail" for ease of remembering. Anyway I dont know why tying it that way is important but Will and Beverly stressed it.
    Have a great family trip!!

  18. Jewel: You're right, I did tie it backwards, and I think I did that again last night, for some weird reason!? I must be getting old! ;)

  19. We've had to give Bute to our horse, Curly, recently and have found that he is not able to spit it out if we administer the medicine while he has a bit in his mouth. This trick works well with deworming pastes as well.

    Of course, we do end up with a messy bit...but easier to clean a yucky bit than to force the horse to keep his mouth shut and swallow!

  20. Curly's mom~ Interesting idea. You know, they make those fake bit worming bridles. I've often wondered how those work, but I'd worry they make it difficult to bridle your horse the next time. My Boy holds a grudge for things like worming. I know, he has issues.

  21. I did a post on eHow (PackinMom is my ID over there, title is How To Properly Secure A Rope Halter,)about how to tie a rope halter, and the WHY of it too. If your horse pulls back, that knot as you have it will cinch down tight, preventing you from ever getting it untied. If you tie it back on itself (I have pics up showing how too, since I cant explain it right for the life of me,) you can take the throat latch side, and the crown piece side, and push them towards each other, thus loosening the knot. It works- I have had a few horses blow back in hand and cinch that blasted knot down tight- but when I pushed the pieces together the knot came undone in a flash.

  22. I quit using paste wormer a year ago. Now I use liquid ivermectin and simple add it to their feed. The big mare gets 9cc and the small mare gets 8cc. No fuss, no muss. I got mine from my vet in 100ml bottle. That would be about 10 dosages for about $30-35.

  23. LOVE that eye picture! I just got a chuckle. All your readers comment on all the technical stuff I haven't a clue. I just enjoy your pretty pictures and fun stories. :) Keep it up!


I love hearing from my readers!! I truly enjoy all of your feedback, advice, helpful tips, and stories. You all make me laugh and I learn so much from you, too. I will try to post replies to your comments as often as I can.

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