We have been very busy this week. Yesterday was vaccination day. Administering the vaccines is the easy part (with one glaring exception), but the prep work takes awhile. We go around and put halters on all of the horses ahead of time to make it easier to catch everyone. We have a few “runners” here that hate to be caught so when they catch site of the halter odds are good that they might take flight! However once they have a halter on you can then walk up to them in the field and just clip the lead shank on. I’ve always found this somewhat silly on their part, all of the drama about a halter but then a couple of hours later you can just walk up and put the lead rope on. I guess they only look for the halter in your hand and not the lead rope.
When it is time for vaccinations we each take a grain bucket with us and usually one or two shakes of the bucket brings all of the horses in each pasture on the run. With multiple people catching horses, leading them up to the vet and then going back to get another horse we make the process run smoothly and efficiently. The vet also brings an assistant to label coggins tubes, dispose of needles and syringes and keep up with paperwork. I let them know the number of horses ahead of time so they come prepared with all of the vaccines already drawn up and ready to go.
The only resident who ever gives us trouble with vaccinations is Sparky the donkey. He objects to needles. He objects to needles in a very big way. Every year we end up with a donkey wrestling session on vaccination day and this year was no exception. It looked like he might go easy on us this year as he stood quietly for his first injection. But then Sparky said “enough!” and it went downhill quickly. At one point Jason and the vet were both attempting to hold on to Sparky and he was just dragging them around and around in circles as if they had skis on instead of shoes. Sparky hardly broke a sweat doing this (donkeys are strong!) but Jason and the vet looked like they had run a 5K. It took about 15 minutes but Sparky had his vaccinations and blood pulled for a new coggins. We always start with Sparky to get the wrestling session over with. All of the horses are quite mannerly.
In the past I’ve tried different desensitizing approaches with Sparky. My mare Bonnie was needle-phobic and clicker training solved that fear with her easily and she is fine for injections now. This was not the case with Sparky. Trying to simulate needles with toothpicks didn’t work. I’ve tried all the usual stuff and Sparky, Jason and myself are all happier accepting 15 minutes of wrestling each year vs. making us both miserable repeatedly in our “desensitizing” sessions. They were more like “sensitizing” sessions.
Sparky has perfect manners for the farrier. When I gave him paste wormer I don’t even have to put a halter on him, he just opens his mouth. However the second he suspects a needle might be involved he wants no part of it. We love Sparky and our vets are very patient with him so we just deal with his needle phobia a couple of times a year.
Tomorrow will be another busy day as it is a farrier day. I’m off to make my list and then tuck in the World’s Cutest Fainting Goats. Have a great weekend!
Sparky dragging Jason and the vet around
Getting his IN strangles vaccine (last one thank goodness!). He also objects to things being shoved up his nostril, but you can’t really blame him for that.
All done! Jason and Sparky are both smiling.
Chilling out after dragging everyone around for awhile
Sebastian and Asterik
Lucky and Snappy
Trigger, Thomas and Elfin
Lily and Cuff Links