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Hi there, I hope you can help me with this.

I have have owned horses with my family for over 30 years and been giving my own shots for about 20 years. My vet showed me where to do it and it's right where your green mark is on your drawing. [See Q&A #194]

Today where I work they had taken a few to a show and I was alone at the barn. One medium sized pony was lying down and had a touch of colic. I tried calling them at the show but they were not picking up their cell. I called the vet and she came up. She asked how much Banimine and I said 7cc's. She said that was perfect. Anyway, she left and I walked the horse for a while. I called them again and told them what happened. They were happy that I called the vet. So I get a call from the boss and he asked me to come over and show him where I gave the needle because her neck was huge. I get there and I was like "where is the huge neck?" He said I put it in the wrong spot (where you had the green mark on your drawing) I have always put the needle there. He said there is a triangle where the needle goes and I could have killed the pony. Well, she was fine and a lot better since I gave her the shot. I felt great when I saw her better, but he made me feel bad after he told me that I did the wrong thing. No blood came out at all when I gave the needle at all. What is your idea of where to put the needle in the triangle? I almost quit when he said this. Sorry for such a long email.

Thank you

D. M.


I'm curious as to the exact location of your boss's "triangle." Yeh, there are other areas of the neck where it's safe to give shots, but there's also a greater risk of hitting the spine or a major blood vessel. I agree with my vet (and yours) -- who taught me that the safest place to give a shot is in the long dimple under the mane (just not too close to the poll). Take another look at the picture of the horse on the shot page -- if your boss's triangle stays away from the shoulder and is higher than about midway between the spine and the mane (where the neck artery runs), you can probably avoid a fight with him and still be safe.

By the way, there is a potentially dangerous illustration circulating on the Internet which suggests giving shots in a very risky area. (See graphic at the right.)

Superimposing an image of the placement of the spine and major blood vessels over that picture shows why that triangle may put you at risk of seriously harming your horse. The bulging muscle in the picture is the brachiocephalic muscle, and the top of the spine runs along, or somewhat above, the upper edge of that muscle. As you can see, depending on the actual build of the horse, the spine may extend well into the triangle, and both the neck artery and the neck vein run right through the middle of it! Even if you miss those blood vessels, you may end up dumping a large amount of a drug in an area where it will be picked up by the blood stream too quickly.

The "triangle" area should only be used by trained folks who are well acquainted with equine anatomy -- not by amateurs. If there's a value to that triangle, it is as a guide to where you can draw blood. The next time your vet takes a blood sample for a Coggins test, watch where he inserts the needle -- right in the triangle! Every vet I've talked to said play it safe when giving shots and stick to that dimple under the mane (the serratus ventralis or trapezius muscles).

The dangerous triangle

This illustration, which is circulating on the Internet, suggests giving shots in a dangerous area.

The triangle may put you at risk of hitting the spine or a major blood vessel

This triangle may put you at risk of hitting the spine or a major blood vessel!

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