Available translations

Tips for Easing Your Horse's Anxiety During Vet Visits

Tanja Dietz


2 Min. Lesezeit

Audio version – listen to this article easily

Tomorrow is the day again. Vaccination is on the agenda. The appointment has been set for three weeks now, and if you're honest, you've had this slightly uneasy feeling in the pit of your stomach ever since because you know it means stress for both you and your horse. Your veterinarian is actually super friendly, and she handles your horse very gently and cautiously, but every time, it's a struggle. As soon as you enter the barn, your horse senses that something is up.

She can tell that you're nervous, and you know your mare will likely turn her hindquarters to you when the vet approaches the stall. Anticipating this, you've already put the halter on beforehand, knowing that it might be difficult to catch her otherwise. Your mare is already pinning her ears back, showing you that she's not in the mood because she knows it might get unpleasant soon.

Many horses associate the vet with discomfort, stress, and/or pain. They often react by trying to flee the impending dangerous situation, as vet visits can mean pain, such as from getting a shot. This association can then be linked to the person themselves.

However, sometimes a horse's flight response isn't possible, especially if they're in a confined space like a stall or already tied up. This can lead to horses displaying clear defensive behaviors, such as turning away, pinning their ears back, or even kicking.

How can I train my horse to make vet visits less stressful?

Training for vet visits can be challenging for two main reasons. Firstly, your vet likely doesn't have the time to come regularly to show your horse that they mean no harm and are actually a nice person. Secondly, your wallet would eventually veto any excessive training visits if you had to pay for each one. However, you can try to ease your horse's fear by remaining calm yourself and keeping your nerves as low as possible.

"Bribery" with treats like carrots or beetroot during the vet visit can sometimes work wonders. And if all else fails, it can be helpful to have your barn friend or someone else from the stable assist you. Even though you know your horse best, having someone there who is less emotionally invested and approaches the situation with fresh eyes can sometimes help.

Are you familiar with our Feeding ABC? You might find some additional helpful tips here to support your horse to the best of your ability. Download our free e-book now for more insights.


Equine 74 Gastric

The long-term solution

Buffers the excess acid in the horse's stomach instead of blocking it.

Equine 74 Stomach Calm Relax

In case of acute stress

Supports the nervous horse stomach in stressful situations.