Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Horse torture

Today was worming day for Red.  He hates it, but knows 
he has to put up with it in order to get his breakfast grain.

Before clicker training, worming was nearly impossible with such a tall horse. When I first got him, he would panic and throw his head. It was a disaster. I was told his previous owner used to twist his ears to get it  done. My usually calm horse would freak at just the sight of a wormer tube.

To get him over this, I used equine clicker training and desensitization. I'd touch him all over with an empty tube. Once I could hold it against his face, I started hooking my little finger of the hand holding the wormer into his halter so even when he moved, the tube was still against him. When he finally relaxed, I would click, take it away and give him a treat. Finally, when it was time for the real worming day, he knew cooperation meant a reward. He's been a trooper ever since. 

In April, I used Panacur Powerpac, which has to be administered EVERY DAY for 5 days in a row. Red thought he was being punished or tortured, I'm sure. By day 2 he was suspicious when I put his halter on him before breakfast. By day 3, he was walking out of his stall. I had to wait him out until he chose to come back and be wormed if he wanted to eat. 
I think it was a very hard decision for him, but for me, it was worth the wait to finally have a calm, willing participant. Clicker training for horses is a great tool.

It will be a while before I worm him again, but when I do, I'll make sure the lighting and my technique are better.


Wolfie said...

Your patience and reward system have worked. Sure, he didn't like it, but he worked with you to get it done.

Diana said...

That's so cute. Bella LOVES the worm stuff and follows me around for it. Chester,on the other hand,throws his head up 50 times and I wait until he gets tired,then stick it in his mouth.He rubs his mouth on the dirt to wipe it off.

Andromedary said...

Looks like he trusts you real good now. I had to give my cat meds (just a diuretic) like that when she got cancer. She was a trooper, but she was real tired of it toward the end with the illness and all. She would get down for a while, though she kept having these resurgences all the way to the end. (And then it was SHE that was there to take care of YOU!)