Last Updated on December 2, 2021
Most of the time, horse injections are given by your veterinary team. However, if your horse needs a long course of medication, your veterinarian may suggest that you can give the injections at home. But do you know where to give a horse a shot and the best technique to use?
Giving a horse an injection is not as scary as it sounds, but it is important to get it right the first time! Let’s take a look at how to inject a horse and find out the best technique to use.
Why Would You Need To Give A Horse A Shot?
Hopefully, this is not a situation you will come across frequently, but sometimes you may need to give your horse an injection. This normally happens if your veterinarian prescribes an extended course of medication that must be injected daily. Rather than visit every day to give the injection, they may suggest that you do the shots yourself.
There are only certain types of shots that are safe for a horse owner to administer. The most common reason is a course of antibiotics to treat an infection. Although many antibiotics can be given in the food, some are more effective when they are injected.
The type of injections that horse owners may be asked to administer are intramuscular shots – these go directly into a large muscle. Only trained professionals should give any other type of injection, such as those that go directly into the veins.
Are Horse Injections Difficult?
If you have never done it before, injecting a horse can be a daunting thought! Your veterinarian should assess carefully whether it is safe for you to give your horse a shot, and they should show you the best technique to do this.
Giving the injection itself is not too difficult, but it is vital to get the technique right. If a shot is given badly, it can be painful for the horse and may cause a reaction. This may make your horse wary of injections in the future.
Where Is The Best Place To Give A Horse A Shot?
When deciding where to give a horse a shot, you need to use an area of large muscle. There are two areas of the horse that are suitable for an intramuscular injection – the neck and the rump. Which of these you choose depends on whether you are giving a one-off injection or a course of shots.
One-off shots are normally given in the neck, as this is the easiest place to inject. However, if you are giving a course of injections, you will need to use a different site each time. This will be the least painful way for your horse and will reduce the risk of an injection site reaction.
How To Prepare For Giving A Horse A Shot
Thorough preparation is essential when giving a horse a shot. This will help you to give the injection in the safest possible way, with minimal stress to you and the horse.
The horse should be held by a confident handler while you give the injection – never tie a horse up for a shot. Both you and the handler should be wearing protective clothing, including a hard hat.
Firstly, you need to prepare the injection. Use a clean, sterile needle and syringe for every injection. Check that you have the correct drug and confirm the dosage. Draw up the injection using a sterile technique, to avoid contaminating the medication.
How To Give A Horse A Shot
Make sure that the injection site on the horse is clean and dry. Approach the horse calmly and quietly. The handler should be stood on the same side as the person giving the injection.
Place one hand at the site where you wish to give the injection – this will help to desensitize the horse. Rubbing the area gently and lightly pinching the skin can also help.
When you are ready, remove the sheath from the needle and insert the needle into the injection site. You may need to stab quite hard to do this, so use a quick and decisive motion. The entire length of the needle should be inserted into the muscle.
Next, check for any blood. Visually inspect the hub of the needle and drawback gently on the syringe. If you see any blood at all you will need to withdraw the needle and draw up a new batch of medication.
If you are confident that there is no blood, slowly push the plunger on the syringe to administer the medication. Remove the needle and syringe and dispose of them safely.
Technique For Giving A Horse A Shot In The Rump
The aim of giving a shot in the rump is to use the large muscle mass of the horse’s hindquarter. Stand to one side of the horse and visualize the three points of the pelvis. The soft, fleshy area in the middle of this triangle is the area to inject.
When injecting into the rump it can help to tap the rump lightly and quickly before inserting the needle. If the horse is at all prone to kicking or flightiness, then the rump is not a safe area for anyone other than a veterinary professional to inject.
How To Give A Horse A Shot In The Neck
To inject into the neck muscle, it can help to pinch a piece of skin and insert the needle alongside this. This helps to keep the horse still and reduces the level of sensation to the horse.
When injecting the neck of a horse, the area to aim for is the triangle of muscle in the center of the side of the neck. This is about a hand’s width above the shoulder blade, just above halfway between the top and bottom of the neck.
To help you visualize where to give a horse a shot, here is a useful video:
So, as we have learned, the best sites to give a horse a shot are the neck and the rump. If you are giving more than one injection, then you need to use a different injection site each time. It is vital to pay attention to your technique and safety when giving a horse a shot.
We’d love to hear about your experiences – have you ever given a shot to your horse? Or maybe you find the whole idea really scary and daunting? Add a comment below this post and we’ll get back to you!
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Kate Chalmers is a qualified veterinary nurse who has specialized in horse care for the vast majority of her career. She has been around horses since she was a child, starting out riding ponies and helping out at the local stables before going on to college to study Horse Care & Management. She has backed and trained many horses during her lifetime and competed in various equestrian sports at different levels.
After Kate qualified as a veterinary nurse, she provided nursing care to the patients of a large equine veterinary hospital for many years. She then went on to teach horse care and veterinary nursing at one of the top colleges in the country. This has led to an in-depth knowledge of the care needs of horses and their various medical ailments, as well as a life-long passion for educating horse owners on how to provide the best possible care for their four-legged friends.
Kate Chalmers BSc (Hons) CVN, Dip AVN (Equine) Dip HE CVN EVN VN A1 PGCE