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How to Give Your Horse a Shot

As a horse owner, you may be required to give your horse vaccines on occasion. If you are not comfortable giving your horse a shot, then you should have your veterinarian or someone who’s had experience administer the shot. Knowing how to give your horse routine vaccinations can save you fees for ranch visits by your vet or the hassle of trailering your horse to the vet. Have your vet teach you how to administer shots so you know how to give vaccinations in the future.

Many vaccines are administered through intramuscular injections into a large muscle mass. Giving your horse an intramuscular shot is not difficult to learn. Intramuscular injections are administered so the medication is injected into your horse’s muscle mass.

The type of medication and dosage your horse needs and how it is to be administered should be determined by your vet. After giving your horse any shots, replace the plastic cover over the needle and place along with syringes in a sealable container and take them to your veterinarian’s office for disposal.

Before administering the shot, brush away any noticeable dirt from the injection area. Using a sterile needle and syringe is more important in the prevention of infections to the injection area than thoroughly cleaning the site.

Your horse will most likely allow you to administer a shot without any objection; however, you should always have a handler when giving your horse a shot. You and the handler should be on the same side. If your horse pulls while giving the shot, move with the horse and continue the injection when it calms down. If your horse tries to kick, the horse’s head should be pulled toward the handler to make the horse swing its back-end away from you.

The base of your horse’s neck is a preferred location for administering a shot. It allows you to remain in a fairly safe area by your horse’s shoulder. Locate the injection area by placing the heel of your hand on the base of your horse’s neck where it joins the shoulder and midway between the top and bottom of the neck. The injection area is the part covered by your palm.

When giving the shot, insert the needle perpendicular into the muscle and all the way to the hub where it attaches to the syringe so that it is deep into the muscle mass. Insert the needle with a quick stab.

Next, attach the syringe and pull back slightly on the plunger (aspirate) before injecting any medication. If any blood is drawn when pulling back the plunger, you will need to pull the needle out and start over in a new area with a clean needle. If there is no blood drawn, then slowly inject the medication.

A method some use to distract their horse from the stick of a needle is to pinch the horse’s skin next to the injection site for a few moments. Then while holding the pinched skin, insert the needle into the injection site.

Discuss with your vet about any signs of allergic reaction before administering any medication to your horse. Observe your horse for any signs of allergic reaction for about 60 minutes after giving an injection.


Randall Holman, site owner of FrontRangeFrenzy.com and horse enthusiast, is the author of this article. You will find other easy and practical basic horse care information on his website.