Say “Ahhh?”

Things are going quite well with Valentine. He hasn’t hurt himself or any of us yet, and I count that as a success. He and Blaze seem to be working things out (Blaze is also a gelding). We haven’t done anything very complicated yet. Mostly because we don’t have a saddle. We’re working on that. In fact, we don’t have anything yet but a halter and lead rope.

One thing we did right away was the deworming. When Bill picked Valentine up, the owner said we’d need to have him shoed right away (we knew this, he had actually thrown a shoe) and also that it was about time to have him dewormed. Bill doesn’t remember too many details about this, because it was cold and late and he was in a hurry, but he remembers that the brand is something “Gold” and it’s apple flavored, and that it’s really easy to do: “You just stick the syringe pretty far back in his mouth and squirt it in.”

Okay, back up the wagon! People say it; dewormer instructions say it; website information pages say it: “insert syringe as far back as possible and dispense.” What everyone leaves out is, how do you get the horse to open his mouth for you? Being new to all this, we’re a little wary about trying to convince a 1200-pound animal that barely knows us to open up and say ahhh. Have you seen those teeth? I know he’s an herbivore, but still! So we opted for the on-feed dewormer – you just put it on their oats and they eat it up. Great plan, we thought! So we sprinkled it on his oats the first time we gave him oats. Then we found out that Valentine likes to swish as many oats as possible onto the ground when he eats! We were alarmed, in fact, thinking he could taste the medicine, but we eventually learned that he eats ALL his food off the ground. He pulls his hay out of the feeder onto the ground. He drops apples onto the ground. He is, in fact, the messiest eater I have ever seen – and I have owned many dogs and survived two toddlers. So it looks like next time, we’ll have to figure out how to get him to say “ahhhh.”

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