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Cannot Give IM Injection, Horse is Needle-Shy

Code Yellow - Contact Your Vet at Your Convenience for an Appointment

Code Yellow - Contact Your Vet at Your Convenience for an Appointment

  • Some vets have valuable advice regarding behavioral and training issues.

A horse’s refusal to accept intramuscular (IM) injections is a highly undesirable behavior that can complicate your and your vet’s ability to provide necessary medicines. It is not an inherent characteristic of a horse. It is a learned behavior that can and should be resolved.

Horses are taught to be “needle-shy” in the same way that they are taught to engage in many other unwanted behaviors. They perceive this behavior to be easier and more rewarding than alternative (desirable) behaviors. Horses that resent injections have generally been trained to be fearful due to poor injection technique.


Look to yourself, and others who have handled your horse as both the cause of the problem and the solution. Your vet may have some suggestions for managing or resolving this problem from a training perspective. What is required is good technique and a method of handling your horse that rewards even the tiniest attempt at compliance.


Your vet may or may not have an interest in helping your horse overcome this behavior. I personally find it satisfying to retrain horses to calmly and willingly accept veterinary treatments, including injection.

What Not To Do

Do not believe that injection shyness is an inherent characteristic of your horse, it is learned. With proper handling, it can also be corrected.

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP


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