Horses · Stories & Writing

The Time I Gave My Horse a Shot

Today I went to a retirement party for the trainer/barn owner where I used to keep my horse, Copper. She has been teaching kids (and adults) how to ride for years, and it’s been a privilege to be part of that barn and watch those little girls grow up into confident, responsible, and tough riders and young women thanks to her coaching.

As they passed a microphone around the room filled with kids and parents who adore Kelly, I thought of my own “Kelly story”, so here it is…

Let me start with this: Kelly is not a woman you say “no” to. I’ve never heard anyone tell her no. It would be futile.

There were times we’d be on a trail ride and she’d say, “let’s go up that hill.” And, even though we all looked wide-eyed at that “hill” which was actually a sheer cliffside and thought what the hell?, we’d all say, “ok” and just follow her. It was treacherous. The fact that we all came back alive every time is nothing short of a miracle. Seriously.

So on this sunny spring day, I was in the barn with Copper who was suffering from some kind of ailment (I can’t remember because the trauma of giving a living thing a shot has overshadowed whatever may have been wrong with him).

Wait, I have to back up with some context first. I don’t like needles. Heck, I can hardly even talk about them. I can’t go in hospitals. Last time I was in a hospital was about two years ago to visit my mom after she had surgery. I warned my uncle who was with me that sometimes I get a little woozy. Lo and behold, about 30 seconds after entering her room I was dizzy. I had to sit down, drink some water, and try not to cry from embarrassment and my mild anxiety attack. I stood in the hallway with my dad for a bit trying to calm down, but it basically happened again when I went back in the room.

I have to get shots laying down. Same goes for getting blood drawn. And do NOT let me see the needle before hand. I’m a wreck. I almost passed out during our “stop the bleed” training at the beginning of the year where we learned how to use and practiced using tourniquets. I definitely held back tears the whole time.

So, yeah, there’s that.

Okay, back to Copper. Kelly heard something was up with him and said “I’ll go get him some medicine.” She headed to the storeroom to get the shot ready. My friend Judy was off getting her horse, so that me left there with Copper, Kelly, and a needle.

As Kelly came towards me, needle in hand, I said “which side will it be on, so I can stand on the other side?”

“How are you going to give him a shot from the other side?” she asked.

“Ummmm…” voice shaking, “I really don’t like needles.”

“If you’re going to own a horse, you have to be able to give him medicine.”

Sound logic + Kelly = shrug, “okay.”

There I was, hand shaking, holding a needle (it was so long, y’all). Kelly showed me where to put it, sticking the tip into his skin, and then held her hand over mine. She used her baby talk voice to encourage me; I appreciated it more than I felt patronized by it. I started to push, she kept cheering me on and removed her hand. I kept pushing.


Instead of the plunger going in, I was pulling the other thingy out, leaving a lump of medicine under Cop’s skin. FACE PALM.

“Well,” Kelly said, “we’ll have to do it again on the other side. I’ll be right back.”

Deflated, I stood there shaking. Don’t cry, Kristy. Don’t cry. Be strong. It’s ok.

She came back, we walked around the other side. Copper, just so you know, couldn’t have cared less about any of this. He just stood there being the good boy he is.

On the other side there was no guiding hand. It was just me with Kelly’s voice behind me, telling me what to do. I had to poke the needle through his skin myself. I had to steadily push the plunger in (for real this time) and then I had to remove the needle. In case you’re wondering, that is by far the worst part. You can feel it tugging the skin. (I’m gagging while I write this.)

Afterward, Kelly gave me a hug and said “Great job, Kristy.” I felt like a six year old and I was so proud of myself. Haha!

I immediately texted my mam and dad to tell them what I’d done. “Did you cry? Did you throw up? Did you pass out?” they asked.

“No!” Needless to say, they were impressed. And, thankfully, I haven’t had to repeat that process since.

4 thoughts on “The Time I Gave My Horse a Shot

  1. It is amazing what we can actually do when we really have to do it. I love the way you wrote this slice, I was right there gagging with you, even though shots do not bother me! Great job finally doing it though, I was impressed!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. No horses, but cows. We had show heifers up until last year, and suddenly, giving shots was “man’s work”. Umm, what?? I never got comfortable doing it, but it always got done.

    Now we know how nurses feel, right? 😂


  3. This summer I was running barrels on a friend’s horse since she had recently had a baby and wasn’t riding. This horse was so fun to run! But she ran on lasix (she is a bleeder) so she needed a shot everytime I was going to run her. I’d never given a shot before and like you I was terrified! Great job, I know how intimidating it is!

    Liked by 1 person

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