January 16, 2018

How to Give Medicine to Your Horse

                Ok, it’s finally happened. You went to the barn this morning and your horse, Sweet Pea, was sick. Or lame. Or hurt. You called your trusty veterinarian who came out and treated Sweet Pea and all will be well in time. He/She then handed you a bag filled with bottles of pills and instructions.  After the vet drove off to their next appointment, you looked miserably at your diminished checking account. Then you looked at your poor distressed horse and was grateful that the vet was able to come so quickly and sort things out. Lastly, you looked in that bag, read the instructions and wondered…12 pills twice a day? Plus, 2 grams of bute?  Exactly how do I get Sweet Pea to eat all those pills? Of course you could buy those cute little pill pockets but that’s a lot of pockets, lots of pills and lots more money.  Surely there must be a better way. There certainly is and it’s easy of you know how. Allow me to enlighten you…

            First you need to understand that the best way to get the medicine into Sweet Pea without wearing it or putting it all into the stall bedding is with an Oral Dose Syringe. Your friendly vet should be able to provide you with one. They look like a normal syringe but are much larger and don’t have a needle. (Think Paste Wormer) Now you just have to figure out how to get the medicine into the syringe and then into the horse. Here’s the best way I have found…

First- Gather all the necessary materials-

    1. Your medicine. 
    2. A mortar and pestle 
    3. Ziplock sandwich bags  
    4. Molasses, pancake syrup, applesauce or jelly.
    5. Water   
    6. An oral dose syringe
    7. Scissors
    8. A small bowl

The procedure-

Step 1. Carefully count out the pills into the mortar. Count twice, just to be sure. Grind the pills into a fine powder using the pestle. Make sure no large pieces remain or they may get stuck and clog up the tip of the syringe. If you are mixing two or more medicines at the same time, be sure to ask the vet if it’s ok. We don’t want any weird chemical reactions happening.

Step 2. Open a ziplock baggie and add your syrup, molasses or whatever you are using to mix the medicine in. Be sure to add the liquid before you add the powder or it will get stuck in the corners of the bag and be difficult to mix. Make sure you have the right amount of liquid. Too much won’t fit in the syringe and too little will make a very thick paste that won’t easily be expelled from the syringe.

Step 3. Add the powder, squeeze out any excess air and close the bag. Now from the outside of the bag, squish it around with your fingers until it is completely mixed. If it is too thick, add water a few drops at a time until you have the right consistency.



Step 4. Squeeze the mixture away from one corner of the bag, preferable a bottom one. Using scissors, cut off that corner of the bag and set the bag aside. In order to make sure the medicine won’t run out while you prepare for the next step, you may want to set it in the bowl with the cut corner sitting up on the side.


    Step 5. Remove the plunger from the syringe. Hold the syringe with the open side up and your finger over the hole at the tip. (I cut the pointy tip off first. The paste will come out easier, clog less and some of it doesn’t get left behind in the syringe. It’s also much easier to clean.) Now, place the cut corner of the bag into the barrel of the syringe. Squeeze out all the medicine into the syringe. Discard the bag where children and pets can’t get to it.

    Step 6. Put the plunger back into the syringe, but only as far as necessary to keep it in place. Invert the syringe and wait until the air bubble rises to the top. Once the air is all the way to the top, SLOWLY remove your finger. Now finish pushing the plunger into place, being careful not to push any of the medicine out. Now it’s time to head out to the barn.

Step 7. Put a halter and lead on your horse. If they won’t stand still, have a helper hold the horse, but don’t tie them. If they object to the procedure and pull back you could be causing all sorts of new problems. Hold the syringe with your right hand and put your left hand on top of the horse’s nose. Put your left thumb into the upper corner of the mouth lifting the lip open and upward. Place the syringe into the mouth and point the tip toward the top of the head. Depress the plunger thus squirting the medicine onto the back of the tongue. If it is a large amount, give one-third or one-half first, then go back with the rest. Give your horse a moment between doses to swallow thus making sure it goes down and not out.

Success! Your horse has been given the medicine. You aren’t wearing any of it and none is splattered all over the stall. Now go back in the house and wash everything associated with this process. You don’t want to risk any cross-contamination of meds to people or pets. Wipe down the counter tops and wash your hands. Put away the pills where children and pets can’t reach them. Put all your supplies away until next time and you’re done! Good luck!

Yes, that’s my husband Steve, cleaning up after me!

Shiny As A New Penny!

Shiny As A New Penny!

Should I Body Shave my Horse? This question was posed to me just the other day by a student. She owns a very fuzzy pony that she wants to get ready for the shows. Shows that are going to be starting in just a few short months. I understand why she would ask this question. Her pony, Tony, is the typical Thelwell pony. Short, stocky, and really hairy. Every time she rides him, poor Tony sweats up a storm. She spends hours walking him dry after each workout. Grooming him has become a nightmare (no pun intended). It is nearly impossible to keep Tony even slightly clean with all that hair. Plus, now that spring has sprung, Tony is shedding like crazy. It looks like someone laid down a chestnut blanket after each grooming session.  Bathing is out of the question unless his owner has a full day of sunshine to bathe, rinse and dry Tony before the cool of night sets in.

            So what’s a pony or horse owner to do? Shaving is simply not a possibility for Tony. His owner does not have the time or money to supply the needed blankets. So what should she do to get Tony ready for shows? The best chance she has of getting Tony show ring ready is this four-step process. But with the proper time and attention, Tony will be looking spiffy in a jiffy!

            First, It’s Elbow Grease Time! Tony the Pony needs comprehensive grooming each and every day. Twice a day is best, before and after his workouts. My school horses are always the first horses to shed out each year. Some are blanketed but most aren’t. However; they are groomed to within an inch of their life nearly every day. All my lesson student’s are required to groom before and after each ride. It is not uncommon for the school horses to be ridden 3-4 times a day. That leads up to 6-8 grooming sessions per horse-per day. Even those who have a really heavy coat will be slick and shiny by the end of March.  So, break out those curry’s, dandy brushes, rags and elbow grease. Tony needs a good grooming each and every day to get all the shedding hair off his body. It will also make his new summer coat grow in short and healthy.

            Second, let’s feed for a great coat! Tony will need a coat supplement. I like to begin feeding good quality coat supplements around late February-early March each year. My personal favorite is Nu-Image, but I’m sure there are plenty of others that will work as well. The proper supplement will give the horse the correct nutrients to grow a healthy, shiny, new summer coat. It will also help the hair grow in the proper color. This is especially important if your horse is black, palomino, buckskin or any color that is difficult to keep from fading. Once the coat is established, you may be able to discontinue feeding the supplement. I have found this method works well at keeping the coat looking excellent well into the summer without lots of added expense. Just doing those two things alone will make a considerable difference in your horse’s coat, but there is more you can do.

            On to step three- Cleanliness is next to Godliness– Bathing your horse will help keep the coat clean and free from stains. However; if you bathe your horse often, be careful of shampoos. If used too frequently, they can be drying to the coat. A dry coat is a dull coat. To keep the coat clean and shiny, rinse the horse with plain water after every workout, weather permitting. Once a week or so, bathe your horse with a mild horse shampoo like Corona or Orvus. Stay away from human shampoo or dish soaps. Both have detergents to remove oil. We want to get out the sweat and dirt, but keep the oil in our horse’s coat. I also reserve the whitening shampoos for the day before the show when my paints need to be really white. When the weather is too cold for a full rinse down, spot clean with warm water and a clean towel. This is really important when your horse is sweaty from a workout. If your horse has lots of white, especially on the legs, keep those areas treated with a product like ShowSheen or LaserSheen. This will help keep those white areas stain free. The same goes for white or light colored tails. Spray the tail after every shampoo to keep tangles and stains at bay. Also, keep the tail in a bag to keep it clean, prevent breakage and encourage growth. Of course, keeping your stall clean will help prevent the stains in the first place. Keep your “Tony” on clean bedding and remove manure as often as possible.

            Finally- Shun the Sun! The last thing that will help keep your horse’s coat in top-notch shape is sun protection. Keep your horse out of direct sunlight as much as possible. Strong sunlight will fade and dull any coat. If you don’t have appropriate shelter a day sheet or fly sheet will do the trick. Make sure the sheet covers the horse’s neck along with the body. If you can’t find one with a neck cover, consider a slinky-type hood as well. If heat is a problem in your area, be sure to buy covers in light colors and breathable material.

            If you follow these tips your horse should have a blindingly shiny coat this year.  We’d love to her what you do to make your horse look shiny and new every year.  Please feel free to share your comments and tips!

Cheryl Rohnke Kronsberg is a Certified Horsemanship Association Master Instructor and Clinic Instructor. She is also a registered AQHA Professional Horseman. Cheryl has been teaching riding and horsemanship for over 30 years. Currently she and her husband own and operate CRK Training Stable in Yorba Linda, CA. We welcome your comments and questions. Please feel free to share this article with your friends, but rights to publish this article are restricted.


Broken Horn Sale Today!

Look what I won today!

Today’s Adventure-

            As I do every year, I went to the Broken Horn Sale today. Now for those who don’t know, Broken Horn is an amazing store in San Dimas. It is filled with everything horse related even I could want. It is the place to stock up on horsey stuff. And during their semi-annual sale, it’s even better. They have loads of stuff on sale at really cheap prices. They also discount the entire store 10%. Well everything except feed and bedding that is. Although the sale is a mere shadow of its former self, it’s still a fun outing. Gone are the free hot dogs, sodas and buckets. But they still have the hourly drawings and saddle give-aways.

            In addition, the sale is attended by many sales reps talking about their products. These people are a great resource.  They can tell you about all the new research in their industry. Most of the sale items were strategically placed outside the store.  So, as I walked to the entrance, I was picking up the items I wanted. I stopped to chat with the sales rep from Sher-Mar Enterprises, the makers of Four Flex. As it turned out, he wasn’t a sales rep, he was the owner, Sherrel Heath.  After I told him I was going to buy his product for our dog, he proceeded to tell me that the product was originally made for dogs. He explained how he started the business because of a dog named Bear and the Yucca plant. His dog was getting old and had arthritis.  His wife, Maggie, told how they gave Yucca to the horses when she was a kid. So Sherrel gave Yucca to Bear, and he got better. Bear lived to be 15 years old. Then he gave it to his horses and they got better to. So he did his research and began marketing  Pure Desert Yucca. Fast forward to the 90’s and the introduction of Chondroitin Sulfate and Glucosamine Sulfate. He researched those products also and added it to the Yucca. He also added MSM which is known for its anti-inflammatory properties . Now he had a new product with 4 ingredients.  He named it Four Flex.  The original Four Flex label featured a picture of Bear, the dog. Pretty Cool.

Maddie wants a treat!

            We have been giving Four Flex to our dog Maddie for quite some time now. It has helped her with her arthritis.  I asked Mr. Heath if the product would help a horse with Navicular Disease. He said it would, so I purchased the extra large bucket. Now both Lace and Maddie will get Four Flex daily. Why was I so willing to take this man’s word that his product would help? Well, maybe because he told me not to buy his more expensive product, Four Flex HA. He didn’t just push his product on me. He asked some very pertinent questions. He listened to my answers and gave me answers in return. Mr. Heath told me that Four Flex HA would not work for my situation and not to waste the money. I liked that. He knows and believes in his products. I know this product works for my dog. I’m hoping it will do the same for my horse.  Anyway, he’s a really cool guy who was promoting his products to help animals have longer, more productive lives.  And that’s a good thing in my book.

            Now you are wondering why the picture at the top of the post isn’t of Four Flex.  Well, I didn’t get it free, I had to pay for it. That picture is of the really cool stuff I won.  For Free! Remember the drawing I told you about? Well my name was drawn first and I got first pick of the 10 items available. That picture is what I picked. The really nice gear bag with boot holders on the side will come in handy for traveling to clinics.  It was filled with all the products you see in the picture.  Some I will use and some I won’t. The extra ones will be donated to the CHA Silent Auction next Sunday. If you see something you would like to have, be sure to come to the CHA Region 10 Conference September 25th at CRK Stable. You could just get an amazing deal on some really cool stuff.  It’s almost like getting it free! Ok maybe not free, but the money is for a really good cause, and that’s good for everyone! Just don’t get your heart set on the bag. I’m keeping that. See you there!