Image from Big Stock Photo

People who live with horses sometimes are called upon to do their own doctoring. It just goes with the territory. Your vet will leave a course of medicine to administer in pill, powder, spray or injection form, and you’re expected to follow through. The health of your animal is at stake, so how can you not carry out the doctor’s orders? I do fairly well with the pills and powders. The injections are where things go south for me.

You see I am not a fan of needles. Syringes, hypodermics, hypos, or as my sister and I used to call them, shotters. I hate each and every one. I have to take deep breaths and go to my “happy place” when any kind of medical procedure that has to do with needles is involved. It’s a good thing I’m relatively healthy.

Just to be clear, my aversion to needles extends well beyond myself.

I can’t watch others get shots.


I don’t even like to see it on television, when I tell myself it isn’t real. It’s acting for goodness sake, but that makes no difference. I always turn my head, go load or unload the dishwasher, fold the laundry – anything to distract me from looking at the needle. I’m not so good with scalpels either.

Just an FYI.

I do a lot of avoiding during medical and crime scene television programs. You’d think my house would be cleaner, really.

You may be wondering how this relates to Bud and Pepper, and isn’t just a peek into my neurotic psyche.

In the first year that Pepper came to share her life with me, she got sick and needed a series of injections. Looking back, I can’t remember what was wrong with her. I never moved past the “she needed injections” part of the story.

I was new to handling a horse and not all that comfortable with this 1200 pound animal in the first place. Everyone who could help me was out of town. My husband, our farrier, and the woman who lived where we boarded our horses were unavailable. As in not even in the same state. Pepper’s health was 100% up to me.

So the first time I had to give the injection, I loaded the syringe and put it in what I thought was a safe place. I laid everything out, and took a bunch of deep breaths.

“You can do this, Jean,” I repeated over and over, though I never totally believed it.

Finally, I brought Pepper in from the pasture. I tied her up fairly short because I didn’t want her moving away from me at the critical moment.

I slapped her neck, like I was shown to do.

I squirted the little bit of liquid out of the syringe, again as I was shown.

And I froze.

I became a total rabbit in the headlights.

I stood beside my sweet mare, syringe in hand, trying like crazy to find the courage to poke that needle into her neck.

I waited.

I talked to myself.

I waited some more.

I tried to convince myself that she could miss a couple of treatments. Rick would be home in a day or so. Surely she could wait.

I was fooling myself. Pepper needed this medicine.


She glanced at me, with those big brown eyes seeming to ask, “What in the heck are you doing?”I talked to her, trying to explain my fear.

She waited.

I waited.

I felt ridiculous, but I could not get that injection into her. Until I realized the sun was going down. I really did NOT want to be trying to do this in the dark, by myself.

In the end, one fear trumped the other.

I slapped Pepper’s neck and plunged the needle in.

She didn’t even flinch.

I think she was just so relieved to have something, anything happen.

I exhaled and looked around to make sure no one was watching me be so silly.

Pepper and I were alone.

I led her back to the pasture, picked up my things and headed home.

For that day, I met my fear and conquered it.

One down, a lifetime of days to go.