First of all, I have never seen Ridley get his dewormer before, but it came as no surprise when my barn owner texted me to tell me that he wasn’t happy about the process. To put it mildly. She asked if I could have Tom help me get Ridley to accept the process with better grace. I have no idea how he got it before, but I expect the process was a fight.
For the un-horsey readers, dewormer is given from a tube in the corner of the horses mouth, pointed upwards. Sort of like getting an animal to swallow a pill, the idea is if you get enough of it, far enough in, it will go down the hatch.
Ridley will usually eat ANYTHING. You name it, throw it in his dish and it will disappear. He will eat pills, supplements, etc. just thrown on top of the food. Bright idea – try to feed it with his dinner.. well, of course this is the one thing he doesn’t like!
Yesterday was our “date night” with Tom and I warned him ahead of time that I would like him to help us work on this problem. You know that I rave about Tom, but seriously, he is the best! He came to the barn armed with a plastic turkey baster and a jar of unsweetened applesauce.
Not Ridley is no pushover. He knew that Tom was up to something. He eyeballed the plastic baster with a little distrust and stood there waiting. Tom put a bit of the applesauce on his palm and held it out. Looking at it from every angle that he could think of, Ridley could not figure out how to eat the applesauce while avoiding the baster.
We had a stand off.
Tom is a very patient guy, he made the baster a little less obvious and waited for Ridley’s desire for food outweigh his distrust. With his neck as loooooong as it could go (and its a long neck), we had some success… yummy applesauce, no baster.
Well the questions he had to answer for payoff got harder. Next he had to move his feet to get to the applesauce, then he had to eat it from his palm with the baster next to the palm, then it was while it touched his mouth. Having passed all of these questions reluctantly, we moved back into his stall. (He was on in the aisle with me holding the lead prior to this)
Now Tom got him to bend towards him in a relaxed position, lightly blocked his nose from moving and fed some more. After several head tosses and disgusted looks, Ridley decided he could play Tom’s game. Timing is everything, and this is something both Tom and Ridley excel at. It’s like watching a game of cat and mouse.
After some under saddle work with our friend the tarp, it was my turn with the applesauce. Now I am considerably less coordinated, but Ridley had now connected said baster with some good nom-noms. It didn’t take too long to stick baster in the corner of his mouth, turn and deliver applesauce directly into his mouth.
Tom 1, Ridley 1.
I think this was a win-win scenario.
The look of indignation on Ridley’s face when we actually use the dewormer… will be priceless, but we have more work to do with the applesauce first.