What you see. The starting point for addressing any equine health related issue is your observation.


Cannot Give IM Injection, Horse is Needle-Shy


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.

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    Contact Your Vet at Your Convenience for an Appointment
    • Some vets have valuable advice regarding behavioral and training issues.

your role


What To Do

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.

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.

your vet's role

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.
Questions Your Vet Might Ask:
  • Was there a time that you remember that the horse did accept injection?
  • Do you remember a particular incident that may have caused the horse to develop the behavior?
  • What method do you use to give IM injection?
  • What have you tried in order to solve the problem?

Diagnostics Your Vet May Perform

Figuring out the cause of the problem. These are tests or procedures used by your vet to determine what’s wrong.

Very Common
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Treatments Your Vet May Recommend

A way to resolve the condition or diagnosis. Resolving the underlying cause or treating the signs of disease (symptomatic treatment)

Very Common
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Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP