Horse behaviour, it’s normal to be abnormal. cont

The horses that I am called to assist with usually fall into the quick to learn and highly strung category. These horses require different handling and training techniques and need to be respected as being out of the normal majority of horses when it comes to behaviour. Often times these horses are referred to as “stubborn, difficult, and impossible”, and sometimes they are, don’t get me wrong here. However the problem is usually the human not being able to adapt the way they are used to working with most “normal” horses. All too often these horses end up on the receiving end of someone loosing their temper.

As trainers and handlers our goal should always be to build relationships with the horses in our care that are built on a solid foundation of positive experiences. Past experience and past history establishes confidence and skill with situations and just as easily establishes fear and distrust with situations. Horses in the wild make countless decisions during their day; each decision is an opportunity to learn about their particular environment. The horse learns from its successes just as it learns from its mistakes. It’s really simple, if they don’t learn they don’t survive!
If you are in a situation where you find yourself faced with a horse that doesn’t react as most horses do, take a deep breath step away and rethink your approach. If you are not an experienced horse person or have limited time it may be in the horse’s best interest to re-home it or to put it down. Horses that are highly instinctual or “highly strung” have a higher potential to injure themselves and the people that work with and ride them. There are countless incidents of people being killed or severely injured by horses that have reacted explosively and caused accidents.

Recently I have had a few such horses cross my path; most extreme of them being a beautiful young racehorse. She had arrived at the yard for training but would not allow herself to be haltered. This meant that she couldn’t go out for exercise or start training, etc so as time progressed she built up a lot of history (and energy) and learnt just how to avoid being haltered. Clearly not a good situation for either the horse or her trainer! Fortunately this mare has been given a second chance and I have agreed to add her to my herd and see where we go. Although I am still not sure she will settle enough to be an easy horse to handle, as well as having acquired the vice of wind sucking to add her problems. There is something about this mare that has touched the hearts of the people that have met her, so let’s call her “Magic”. She has a volunteer that pops in to brush her, a special lady with a big heart has sponsored some of her feed cost and within a week she is my groom’s favorite horse. Most of her first few days out in the paddock were spent running, bucking, rolling and grazing non stop. The first few days it took me up to two hours to get a halter on her……talk about patience!!!!! Magic knows how to test ones’ that’s for sure. However each day we make a little progress and she is starting to trust us and today our groom was able to walk up to her and just put her halter on. What a “Magic” moment!!!! She still has a way to go and it will be many weeks before we can pick up her feet and even think of putting a blanket or fly repellant on her. But for now she is just enjoying being a horse and having some horse company to play with.

Enjoy the holidays and good weather for riding and playing with your horses.