Is worming your horse a nightmare?

Buying a horse wormer is the easy part of the job, actually getting the horse worming paste into your horse's mouth without a fight, can be tough.

Watch this ' worming a horse ' video clip -

If your horse does not like the worming paste here is a preparation exercise to help you. When you have finished viewing, review the steps further down this page.

(click the 'play' arrow once to start)


Preparation before administering the horse wormer

  1. Teach your horse to lower its head by the mere touch of your hand. Do not push down on the horses head, just rest your hand.

    When teaching the horse to lower its head, start by placing one hand on the top of the horse's nose and the other on the poll (behind the ears). Rest your hand and take your hand off the moment the horse gives you a hint that it is thinking about or does start to lower its head.

    Do not pat the horse. Taking your hand away is to be the reward and you want to focus on head lowering not touching elsewhere.
  2. Watch carefully, even if you are unsure if there was some movement down but you thought there may have been, take your hands off the head (release pressure).

    Put your hands back on again after the brief release, especially if the horse puts its head back up. Continue until the horse can lower its head to the ground. Practice where there is no food on the ground.

    When the horse can do this with your two hands, proceed to one hand behind the poll.

  3. Cuddle the horse's head. As shown in the video, make sure you stand at the side, near the horse's front legs and turn the horses head to the side. This is so if the horse throws its head up, it will throw back away from your head.

    Do not put your head over the top of the horses neck or head.

  4. Play with your horse's mouth and around its nose. Also get to putting your hand in and pulling the horse's tongue out and holding it. The horse must be comfortable with you placing your fingers in its mouth. Just remember to keep your fingers in the side of the mouth where there are no teeth. Also, be careful that the horse does not drag your fingers onto its teeth when it is moving its tongue around.
  5. Once all is relaxed then you can think about administering the wormer but only once the horse is relaxed with all of the above. Before worming, make sure your horse's mouth is not full of grass or other feed. If it is, clean it out.

    Do not hide the worming paste from your horse, let the horse see it. Put the nozzle into the side of the horse's mouth and wait until the horse open's its mouth. Do not force it in. Once the mouth is open, slide it back onto the back of the tongue and squeeze the paste out. Hold the horses head up until it swallows.

  6. In case your horse bites or moves away from you during the process. When going through all of these exercises and at the time of administering the horse wormer, have the horses lead rope in a position where you can grab it quickly.

    If a horse bites, never smack your horse or hit is nose or body. Simply apply a 'pull and release' as follows.

    Pick up the lead rope very quickly and take a big step backwards away from the horse. When you have taken the step back, rock your body back (turn side on to give you power) and strongly pull the horse's head towards you. Be careful not to jerk the lead rope, collect contact on the lead and thereby the horses head then pull. Make it a very big pull.

    As soon as you have made the pull, release the pressure. The horse should be pulled so it moves its feet towards you but once you have made this big pull release the pressure.

    If the horse continues to move away, apply another pull and release. Or if the horse bites, pull and release again.

    Once the pull and release has been applied, lead the horse back to the same place you had the horse before it moved away or bit. This is called 'putting the horse back in position'. When doing so, make sure you lead the horse back in the direction it came from.

    e.g. let's say the horse bites and you are standing on the horse's left side (some people call it the near side). You step away from the near side and pull and release. The horse ends up facing you, which means it has moved to its left. You need to put it back in position by leading it back to its right and get as close to the original position as possible. Once back in position, pat the horse to reward it for being back in its position. Then, recommence what you were doing before the horse need the pull and release correction.


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