Yes that's right, I said deworming day is fun around here.
Yesterday mostly the only real play I did with anyone was with syringes. I grabbed some maple syrup from the kitchen and some applesauce and headed to the barn. My little mini Charm has always been perfect with medical things, I never even halter him to do it. Most of the others I can do with a rope around the neck. Princess wasn't too happy about it, but 4 syringes full of good tasting stuff and she was less skeptical. Ghost loooooved the maple syrup mix!!! So after playing with that for maybe 5 minutes, I can walk in, give some from the good syringe, then the wormer, then some more of the good, and she's totally happy, relationship intact, and healthy horse. That was fun! Mesa was skeptical of the syringe, but she's good and usually tolerates it without any fuss. I got the wormer in her no halter as well. But i think to get her to actually like it, I'll keep playing with good tasting stuff. Our little stallion Freedom is notoriously awful, but I do like playing with him on it. We got to where I could get the syringe in his mouth without him striking, so I decided to play some more of these friendly with the mouth games before actually worming him.
Xena is a bit touchy about her mouth anyway. I tried a rice bran alfalfa mix, but she was just not having anything shoved down her throat. I decided I certainly wasn't going to push this, so I made it a game like everything else we do. I call it "What can you do to make the syringe dissapear." I had a small empty 20 cc one to work with. First I offered it to her to snif it, and she went the other way. Someone has clearly fouled her into it, so it's my current goal to get it done with her permission. I followed her around until she looked at it, and then I'd back off. If she either put her head down or toward me, the syringe and I walked backwards. This got pretty good until she was offering lateral flexion to keep the syringe away LOL smart horse! Then I upped the anti a bit and started to touch her wherever she would let me with it. I scratched her neck with it, rubbed the sides of her face. Then if she actually put her nose on it, it would go away totally and I'd put it behind my back. Pretty soon she was touching it every time I offered it to her. Then I started rubbing her forhead with it, working down towards her mouth, and releasing if she put her head down. She did amazingly well with that, because she realized that she could control its actions. Pretty soon, I was sitting on a bucket with her head down next to me rubbing her face with it. I rolled it all around her mouth, under her chin, inside her nose, and then I'd stop whenever she let me put either a finger or a piece of it in her mouth. After just a few minutes of this, her head was close to the ground and I could put the syringe in her mouth and she'd just half close her eyes as I rubbed her face.
I decided that was more than I expected so I just quit there, quite proud of my smart girl! I think we'll do a week long program of this, maybe one more day of it being empty and then I'll try to see if she likes honey. Hardest part will be getting something she likes in there, the picky little eater! Eh, there's no wormer in the wild, she'll live a week without it lol. I'll do the same for Freedom and Mesa until everyone is confident with taking it at liberty.
I've seen people with a bunch of horses to worm end the day with broken cross ties, upset humans, and hard to catch horses. Thanks to Parelli, I left the barn smiling and laughing about our fun new game, can't wait to try it again today! Then I'll continue our other programs of friendly games with tack and scary noises outside the pen. Thanks PNH, for making every day a good horse day!