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Change in horse's behavior after being given a shot and administering butte.


On my 34th birthday I was given a horse that I trained for someone early in the year. He was passed around a bit while its owner was getting it "trained". An Amish family had him for a while early in its life and they broke him to ride and drive in addition to castrating him. The story is that this horse tore apart stalls and caused all sorts of hell. Then the owner got him back for a while and became afraid and sent him away for two intense weeks of "cutting" training. The owner gets him back and there is no change.

Through mutual acquaintances she lent him to me for the summer.

We changed each other's lives, we met each others needs etc. She recognizes this and handed the papers over without hesitating. Six weeks ago he needed medicine, no vet just me. I gave two shots, one went great and the second not so good. He bucked away and the needle went flyin'. The following week I gave him butte orally and for the first time had to chase him to catch him.

After the treatment whenever I walk into the pen he heads the other way. I have been following your advice to the others regarding catching their horse and I love the technique (halter, ignore him, curry the other horses). However, besides patience I don't know what else to do. Do you think what I did was abuse? Could he be associating me with other bad experience? The horse is six and built like a brick sh*t house and normally is a gentlemen.

If you can advise me that is great if not I had fun getting this out on paper!

Thank you, David

Hi David,

Well, if someone you trusted all of a sudden became a source of unpleasantness, you might try to avoid them as well. They may not be intentionally abusing you. But, what they are doing to you is at least no fun or uncomfortable somehow. Even if what they are doing is for your 'well-being' you may still tend to avoid them if the medicine tastes bad enough or the shot hurt. Horses become habituated to specific behaviors very quickly. What you are experiencing I would say is a normal response.

The good news is that it is relatively easy to get it all back on track. Simply change the routine with the horse. Handle the horse's mouth often without giving medicine. So it does not always associate you handling it's mouth with a bad taste. Give a treat once in a while as reward for the horse allowing you to handle it's mouth. Halter it, walk around and in five minutes unhalter it and be done for the day. Do not always work the horse when you are there. Change the pattern. Bring him out of the stall, brush gently, give a treat and put away. He will begin to look forward to seeing you. He will associate you with whatever the last things you do with him before he is put away. This is why one should always end a session with a horse on a very positive note. One where the horse really has gotten rewarded for any effort at compliance, or just because he is loved. Keep your boundaries and always lead the action with the horse and you will become its wonderful and appreciated leader. Don't coddle the horse or fawn over it. That is not showing respect. Rather offer balanced, respectful praise (a Good Boy and a short, light scratch on the withers or neck) and thats it. Its nice when your horse wants to hang out with you. You can turn this situation around I am certain of it. Be patient. Nothing happens over night.

Sincerely, Franklin

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