Rider to Rider: Help the Medicine Go Down

How do you give your horse oral medication if he won't eat it in his feed? Practical Horseman readers share their tips to help make "the medicine go down" when your horse won't cooperate.

If the pills are water soluble, put them in a 60cc dosing syringe. Put in the plunger, suck in enough (usually hot) water to have the pills dissolve. Let syringe sit until the pills dissolve–for some meds that may be the whole time between doses. Just before dosing, suck papaya puree into the syringe, along with the dissolved meds. Put your finger over the end and shake.

Janet Gunn
Nokesville, Va.

Our 27-year old Tennessee Walker mare injured her hock when she rolled into the woven fence and got her leg caught behind a T-post. We had to flush her leg twice a day, and rewrap it. We also had to give her a couple oral medications twice a day. The first day or two, we were able to mix it in her grain and she ate it. Then she refused it because she detected something amiss. So we tried to force it in with a syringe. After our vet put her on another antibiotic–tablets–we decided to try something else. We crushed them with a coffee bean grinder, then “buried” them in LOTS of brown sugar. She loved the brown sugar mixed in her feed. We had no problem getting any of that medication in her, though it was more than the initial medication. SOLUTION: Buy lots of brown sugar!

Ellen and Rachel Bredel
Jefferson Hills, Pa.

My horse tried to jump through a Dutch door and flipped over. As you can imagine, drugs are now very familiar to him. Here’s what I do: Crush the pills, add them to applesauce, juice or water, so that it’s a pasty texture, then put it in an oral syringe and give him the dose like you would a dewormer. Make sure he gets a treat right after, and that he doesn’t spit it out.

A. Grace Van Dyke
Parker, Colo.

1. Crush the pills up in a piece of folded grain bag (smash them with a hammer).
2. Put the powder in to a 60cc syringe.
3. Put your finger on the opening and add lukewarm water, just enough to cover the powder.

4. Put the plunger on, take your finger off the hole slowly or you will spray it everywhere, shake it up to the consistency of dewormer.
5. Just give it like dewormer.
6. After they have taken the medicine, give them their treat.

Heather Fisher
Nazareth, Pa.

Put medication in a small cup with warm water, put into drench tube, nose twitch horse, administer on back of tongue, being careful not to put too far back, as you could accidentally cause choke. You will probably need an assistant to help with the drench technique, which is the last resort to administer meds of the oral nature.

CE Williams
Montgomery, Texas

For more reader tips on giving your horse oral medication, check out “Rider to Rider” in the March 2008 issue of Practical Horseman magazine. Find out what the next “Rider to Rider” question is in the Practical Horseman Forum.