Thursday, January 19, 2012


For everyone complaining about their horrible winter weather, snowstorms, ice, and subzero temperatures, I'd just like to take this moment and say that it is currently a lovely and sunny 75 degrees outside, and it will be 80 tomorrow. I know I'll hate my life come summertime, but as for today? January is awesome.

In this week's episode of I-Hope-I-Am-Doing-This-Right, we have come to the crux of Bay Girl's problems: deworming. As far as I can tell, the base of her headshyness, uncatchability, and general distrust of humans stems from the fact that prior to her time with me, she's only been caught and handled so that extremely unpleasant things could be done to her (palpations, shots, dewormings, etc). Therefore, whenever anyone went to grab her catch halter, she freaked. And while she now is caught easily, loves to have her face rubbed, and is more than willing for me to walk up and grab her halter at will, we've still not gotten to the actual base of the issue here.... deworming. She is still absolutely horrible about it, and when she sees you coming with the syringe... good luck if you can catch her. And if you CAN catch her, good luck getting it in her mouth! Copious amounts of rapid backing, head flinging, and general panic are the norm for this magical time of month. It's not a lot of fun.

We can't avoid this issue forever. So it's time to push the envelope a little bit and see if we can't get her to at least stand for and and accept getting pasted, even if she doesn't really enjoy it all that much.

Here's what the plan involves: one large tipped 60cc syringe, one jar of molasses, and one Bay Girl. Oh, and one pen for containment purposes. Because this plan would implode out in the open anywhere.

The operation? First, get this:

And do this:

And then syringe this deliciousness into the mouth of this:

Sounds easy, right?
(And healthy.... have fun with this one, insulin! Sorry about the sugar assault! Barefoot practitioners everywhere are gritting their teeth and pulling out their hair, but a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do!)

And.... it's so not easy. I'm not going to say it went POORLY, but it wasn't the amazing magical lightbulb that I was hoping it would be. She's been such a dang genious for everything else I've done.... and the second time wasn't much better, to be honest.

I showed her the syringe dipped in molasss, and she sniffed it curiously, getting a bit on her mouth in the process. She licked it off in surprise, making "um that tastes weird" faces the entire time. I opted for molasses seeing as the ONLY thing she'll eat as a treat is a handful of sweet feed, so as was pointed out in my treats post, she is familiar with the taste and clearly must enjoy it. Or so I thought... I'm not so convinced anymore that she does!

When she realized what I was about to do, the head-tossing, flailing, and rapid backing began. Luckily, she was in her 10x10 feeding pen (all the mares are separated during feed time so they all can get their individual feeds without fuss from the other herd members), so she didn't really have anywhere to go. Once I managed to get the syringe into her mouth (by some small miracle), she stopped moving abruptly and made confused faces at the taste. I then released her off into the evening, and she wandered nonchalantly away still making the yuck-in-my-mouth face. This morning after breakfast, I did the same thing again, and the same routine of backing and head-slinging ensued. She was more than happy to walk right up to me again pre-breakfast, but she may change her mind about that if she doesn't enjoy getting some tasty molasses in her mouth. This could go either way... either she relaxes about it and enjoys her tasty little treat (and hopefully looks forward to the syringe for the most part), or she decides that this is a bunch of crap and she wants nothing to do with any of it. Obviously the former is what we're shooting for here.

I had planned on doing this every day, once a day after mealtimes, until she gets used to the routine and takes it quietly... but I'm not so sure that I really want to do that until she starts to be quiet about it. If all she associates me with is that nasty molasses crap being forced down her throat, she's not going to want to come spend any more time with me. I'll give it a few more random times to see if she quiets about it, and then we'll reassess and go from there. The last thing I want to do is go backwards in any way.... we've come so far already!

(I also have considered dipping the molasses-covered syringe into the sweet feed as an extra candy-coated treat. Then again, I'm not really keen on calling the owners to tell them their foal and the mare died of colic from swallowing a giant piece of crunched-on plastic syringe. It remains to be seen if I dive that far into the realm of crazy and give that a go or not.)


  1. Well, it sounded like a good idea lol ;)

  2. I don't think she likes apples :/ At least, when I drop them into her feed bucket with her grain, she picks around them and won't try them. I'll get her to eat one yet!

  3. How about Karo syrup? Not as bitter as molasses.

  4. That's exactly what I'd do. Of course you know her better and it's your own unique situation, but I'd stick with the plan and *keep* cornering her and molasses-ing her every day. (Or honey, or Karo...) It can't be actually NASTY like "apple" ivermectin. If nothing else, you're changing it from a negative gross experience with syringes to a neutral annoying experience with syringes.

    And when you do need to worm her, do sugar then bam wormer then bam sugar again!

    Dixie doesn't *like* her applesauce electrolytes, but she knows the routine now: it's a couple ounces of nummy applesauce, a couple ounces of horrid salty applesauce, then a couple syringes of water to help wash the gross on down. She doesn't fling her head up and pitch a huge fit anymore.

  5. GOOD luck with this. For reals. Roxie came to me as a yearling with a built-in aversion to having her mouth handled and i have never been able to get her to willingly accept paste dewormer. Not even after 7 years of careful handling and 3 solid months (last summer) of daily applesauce syringes. It's not the flavor--it's the whole violation, near as I can tell. Now I just make her Wormer Sammiches or mix it really well in her grain with water. Some battles just aren't worth it.

  6. I wish you the best of luck with this. I have one that at 23, I can't worm. He will literally fling himself over backwards and take you with him. It's only gotten worse as the years have gone by, despite trying the applesauce-syringe method for months. After he almost really hurt me a couple of years ago, I gave up on paste wormers (he won't touch his feed if it's mixed in) and now use the wormer granules that look like feed.

  7. What if you get her used to the syringe in her mouth without any food just yet? Desensitize her mouth. You could start with your fingers, just don't lose one!

    I don't think that straight molasses tastes very good anyway. Good luck!

  8. Does she like sugar cubes? What about just straight sugar water?

  9. One little guy I worked with would eat dewormer perfectly well it it was barely hidden under the top layer of grain (you don't want to mix it in and make everything taste slightly gross). Trying to put a syringe in him was another matter! You had to be quick, clever, and brave. It wasn't worth the hassle, as he would eat anything in his grain.

    Have you tried just doing it from the off side? Would she be able to get used to one of the dewormer "bits" or not?