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Having a needle-phobic horse is a common reason for people to contact an equine behaviourist.

Needle phobias, also called needle shyness or injection shyness, manifest in horses as moderate to extreme avoidance or escape behaviours, or even aggressive behaviour when attempts are made to inject the horse. Horses displaying this problem may pull away, push into or run over the handler, spin, rear, kick, bite or strike. These behaviours occur because the horse is frightened of being injected, and is trying to reduce their fear by increasing the distance between themselves and the injection.

Needle-phobic horses can develop these fearful responses after as little as one negative experience while being injected. Unless addressed, the problem is unlikely to resolve on its own, and often becomes worse over time.


Horses who are needle-phobic or needle shy are not only difficult or dangerous to treat medically, the problem may prevent them from receiving critical health care in an emergency. This behaviour problem also presents challenges should the owner wish to show or sell their horse.


The good news is that needle-phobic horses can be helped. With an evidence-based, low-stress retraining plan, horses can be taught how to once again tolerate having intra-muscular or jugular injections, without the risk of injury to veterinary staff.

To see a video of a formerly needle-shy horse participating in a voluntary jugular venipuncture while unrestrained, click here. 

Lauren is available to help you with your needle-phobic horse, wherever you are in the world.





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