Training your horse to accept being wormed...?! Yes, it IS possible...
Worming is an important part of horse health management, and it is a necessary task for horse owners to carry out, but the practice of administering the tube can be a challenge?! The sight of this little syringe can often fill horses and humans with fear...sometimes resulting in extreme behaviour and stress for all involved. It's (unfortunately) quite a common sight to see two people struggling to restrain a horse to administer the contents of the syringe into a horses mouth, and this causes anxiety to horse and human and can result in injuries to both parties.
When human(s) come into the stable with the dreaded tube, the horse knows exactly what is going to happen because he remembers the trauma from last time. He raises his head as high as he can, and sometimes tries to get away from the humans, or pushes them against a wall in an attempt to show his unhappiness about the situation. The humans often use brute force to crank the head down long enough for one person to shove the tube in the horses mouth, hoping that the contents of the syringe end up IN the mouth, not on the outside of the horses' head (or up the sleeve of the human) as he tries to evade the syringe. I've seen this happen (or situations VERY similar to this) so many times, and it really doesn't have to be like this...
By the end of the ordeal, which can last several minutes when horse and human are acting against each other, the horse will not only be left with a strange taste in his mouth from the wormer, but a memory that will be with him the next time a human approaches with a syringe. The humans walk out of the stable, and they are thrilled that they have wormed the 'naughty' horse, but they dont consider the impact that this experience will have on the horses behaviour next time they approach with a tube of wormer.
But what if I told you that worming doesn't need to be as stressful to horse and human?! Have you ever thought about TRAINING your horse to accept a tube in its mouth?
Being a vertically challenged human at only 5ft tall, I have often come across horses that evade wormers by raising their head high in the air or rearing, but as a result, I think its important that humans spend time training horses to lower their heads, and accept a tube of wormer. Yes, you heard me correctly, I TRAIN horses to accept wormer tubes, and YOU can too! So what is my secret to getting a horse to accept a tube of wormer I hear you ask....well, the answer is more simple than you might think...I get an empty tube of wormer, and put something tasty on the OUTSIDE of it that the horse will like! A small blob of honey, or jam, or apple sauce for example. After the horse notices that this tube tastes nice, you can put a little of the 'magic treat' INSIDE the tube and practice putting it in the mouth and pressing the plunger.
Once you have done this on a few occasions over a period of a few days, your horse will not dread the little tube. I always give something 'nice' right before I actually put the real wormer in the mouth, but then usually give the horse something 'nice' straight after as well...like a small feed. Once the horse associates the wormer tube with something nice and tasty, his attitude will change, and your life will be so much easier when trying to worm him. No more raising his head to evade the tube, and no need for a gang of humans to try to physically restrain the horse. Less stress for all involved, and much safer too!