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Working with abused horses.

31 Jan
“This is my 8 year old Quarter horse gelding Teddy. I adopted him over the summer Charitee's gelding Teddyfrom a horse rescue. The rescue I got him from said that his previous owners had neglected and abused him. I have been working with him since I’ve had him and have started him under the saddle. He was very head shy at first, now he has gotten better but still mouth shy(won’t allow anything near his mouth without a fuss) and he blows up like a bronc when he is spooked. He is a very sweet horse but I am fearful that he will potentially hurt himself or me while riding. He has bucked me off out of fear of a hay tractor, he has really hurt me from this fear induced bucking. I have done ground work with him since he has been with me but I feel like I am getting no where fast. Do you have any suggestions on working with and training a horse that is fearful of everything due to abuse? I can see so much potential in him if he could just get past his fear. If I am not being specific enough please let me know. Thank you for all the help you can give! “-Charitee P.
Such a sad story…and unfortunately it is not uncommon. Often working with abused animals takes much more time. Because of the abuse they can have ‘flashbacks’ that a horse who had never experienced mistreatment cannot have. Innocent horses don’t carry around that baggage.
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Although it is often time consuming, helping a horse overcome these issues can also be very rewarding. When I have worked with these horses and felt like I was becoming discouraged because of all the extra time involved, I enjoyed turning it into a math problem. If the average ‘un-abused’ horse took me two days to accomplish a specific goal and the ‘abused’ horse took me two weeks….I was able to use that ratio as a guide for that abused horses ‘normal’. It was a little trick to remind me to go slower with those horses; almost like giving myself permission which prevented frustration.
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One unexpected side benefit of working with previously abused horses that I discovered has been that when you do earn their trust they often view you more as a ‘savior’ than the average horse. The last horse I ‘saved’ caused my husband to often tease me. He said that when I walked into the barn the horse got ‘puppy dog’ eyes…like he was in love with me. And he did. The horse really viewed me as his savior.
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Taking extra time, finding someone experienced to ride with and many, many hours all go into a successful rehab. If you are concerned about your safety please get hands on help. Some horses never fully recover. Some horses do. Yes, abused horses are often time consuming but they can be very, very worth it.
 
39 Comments

Posted by on January 31, 2014 in Thought provoking, Training

 

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39 responses to “Working with abused horses.

  1. Leisa

    January 31, 2014 at 8:44 pm

    What about bach flower therapy alongside everything else? I think they’d be worth a try

    http://www.bachcentre.com/centre/bfrani.htm

     
    • Catharina

      February 1, 2014 at 3:15 am

      why not start to stop to use every thing in his mouth, i mean, do sommering totally different; no belt arround his bely no bridle in his mouth…and go for walks allong side. like he was your dog, so to speak.don’t go sit on him. surprise him by not using him as a way to travel or do other ‘non horse’ stuff,(remember you’ll be like a predator for him, esspecially when already abuse) just be with him. and then after some time, try to sit on him, but no pressure, no bridle, no belts arround his bely….see, do it completely different….you might learn a lot, and he too.

      The best off luck,

      I use to have succes a lot this way with abused horses…but /and I stoped seeing the animal as somthing I can ride on. Think about, not all horses are suitable anyway to ride on!!!! Please take care for your onw sake, it can be very dangerous because he’s very insecure and affraid. Start to become his leader, and walk with him….
      Love to hear about you.

      Sincere. Catharina

       
  2. Ashley boyce

    January 31, 2014 at 8:44 pm

    I got my red roan mare several years ago, someone had really done a number on her! She reared over every little thing, broke anything you tied her to, bucked like a bronc under saddle… She just wanted nothing to do with anything about people or riding… She over reacted to everything! After a lot of time desensitizing and sensitizing and lots of TLC im blessed to have one of the most driven and willing horses ive met! She still has some mental blocks when things make her uncomfortable, but he has come a long way! We have shown gymkhana, all around shows, extreme trail, drill team, cattle sorting and enjoy many hours on trails each year! She isnt perfect but she is the first horse i did most if the work on, after going back and restarting her and dealing with all the bumps along the way.

     
  3. Tanya L. Kollar

    January 31, 2014 at 8:48 pm

    One of the most efficient things you must do with an abused or very weary animal is to first..not to react when they over react to an old or new experience. Then when they have become calm again go over it again. And most of all for the person involved do this BEFORE you mount up..Another thing to do is to gently lay them down..and show them they will live through it. And you are their advocate..of course all of this comes with dealing first hand to know when to do these things.

     
  4. deanne

    January 31, 2014 at 8:56 pm

    This is very true ive worked with all types of horse wild, little handing , well trained , bad habits,abused ,and foals my favorite wild they r a clean slate no bad habits no fear well except natural horse fear but no bad abuse hate fear…with abused horses they never forget but will most of them forgive and learn to trust again it just takes twice as long but so worth the time and bond the two of you build.

     
  5. Mara

    January 31, 2014 at 8:57 pm

    I own a 22 year old QH mare that I’ve had for 10 years. When I got her, her owner who had her from a yearling to a 10 year old had passed away, and she went to a woman who put her in training with some gentleman who had no business “training” horses. They spent a great deal of time yanking the reins while spurring for no apparent reason. For years after I got her, she would have panic attacks at some random thing that caused her to flash back. With consistency and patience, she has become a favorite of mine and my daughters, she even does showmanship for a local therapeutic equestrian program. It took a very long time to eliminate her panic attacks, sometimes months would go by between them. She was worth every minute of it!

     
  6. Anne Morgan

    January 31, 2014 at 8:59 pm

    Any time bucking is a symptom a chiropractor and/or saddle fit expert need to be consulted. He might be tolerant of saddle/back pain until he gets scared, then has sensory overload.

     
    • Charitee

      January 31, 2014 at 9:27 pm

      He has had both his back and teeth checked and both are fine. That’s what I was concerned about at first, however he doesn’t act out everytime he is ridden. A majority of the time he can be great to ride(I guess you could call him a little unpredictable). Appreciate your comment though!

       
  7. Eva M

    January 31, 2014 at 9:01 pm

    I got my gelding when he was five. Not sure of his history but I bought him to get him out of the stark, lonely pasture he was in. Not even a tree for shelter. The water was so black you couldn’t even see the bottom of the container….a white bath tub!!

    He spooked at everything. If you simply looked at him while leading him, he would swing his head away & straight up as if to avoid a smack up side the head. You couldn’t touch his face but he didn’t seem to mind grooming & other contact. He was green broke at best and I’m not a TRAINER.

    I now have his trust. He loves to be get kisses on his nose when he flexes to the girth area. He is my sweet Knot Head. So curious & full of personality. Unfortunately no money for pro training, my lack of knowledge in training under saddle, just makes him a big, beautiful pasture ornament.

     
  8. Nikki Schleppe

    January 31, 2014 at 9:06 pm

    Ground work, ground work, ground work! I can’t say it enough. You need to bond on The ground before you can bond in The saddle. The second most important thing is knowing when to stop. Always stop when it’s good even if it’s only been 5 minutes, your horse has had more bad experiences than good and you need to reverse that. Get to know your horses signs when he can tolerate more or when he’s getting to his edge, reward and stop. If you have a bad go of it make sure you do something you know will be positive and feel good before you put him away. Once he learns to trust you he will ‘ask you’ for the way to deal with his stressor before blowing up but you must always be vigilant and you may never be able to relax and enjoy the scenery on this horse but that doesn’t mean it won’t be rewarding. Good luck and have patience!

     
  9. Joyce Aubrey Grabush

    January 31, 2014 at 9:12 pm

    Have you heard of the Parell
    i method. Please check it out, as it works wonders. You can also contact Best Friends Animal Society, as they use this method, and deal with neglected, abused, and abandoned animals of all sorts. I have been there, so can vouch for them!! That’s Parelli.

     
    • Charitee

      January 31, 2014 at 11:12 pm

      Yes I know all about the Parelli method. I haven’t tried them yet but will be deciding between that or Clinton Anderson. Thanks!

       
  10. Kate

    January 31, 2014 at 9:14 pm

    When introducing the bridal to Arab, I used peppermint candy. One in my mouth and would blow softly on his muzzle and nose. Gunner would forget about the bit just to get his mint. Got over his pulling back and up fast. My daughter was 6, he was 2.5 and large pony. We raised him on a bottle so I never understood the bit issue.

     
  11. Kathy Calloway

    January 31, 2014 at 9:18 pm

    I agree w/Nikki my horse was neglected it took years n lots of ground work….I actually hit a turning point when I got my horse to ‘join up’ whoa…what a change…n yes, feet, saddle, n teeth were also issues, but I can’t stress how important your bond is….lots of hours ground schooling and de-spooking them while u r on the ground versus on their back….the reward? I know what my horse is gonna do at least a few minutes before she does it. I can read her so well. I can often diagnose simple issues just by listening to her now that we r a team. Good luck n don’t give up.

     
  12. Belinda Albracht

    January 31, 2014 at 9:20 pm

    I work primarily with horses who come from traumatizing “training,” and Stacy, of course, is right. It’s rewarding and patience is the key. Break everything down into small, doable lessons–start them from the beginning. teach the horse to walk politely on a lead line, and big praise for every “try.” Lot’s of grooming is really helpful, too. Long sessions brushing the horse, lots of good body contact. Give the horse time to relax. and don’t be discouraged if after some progress, they regress a little. also don’t be surprised if they seem to hit a plateau for a while, seeming to make no new progress. They can’t learn as fast and as consistently as well-broke horses. I promise, they will make “leaps forward,” too!

    Best of luck!

    Belinda

     
  13. melanie423Melanie

    January 31, 2014 at 9:23 pm

    I have two horses that have been abused at some time (neither was a rescue but both have real baggage). I spend time paying particular attention to what happens before the blow up and work on diffusing before the crescendo. I can’t tell you how many countless hours I’ve spent on and off my horses letting them look at scary things (trash cans, piles of yard debris, man hole covers, even horse toys…like the big blow up balls made by Weaver….Sorry Stacy!!! They scared the heck out of one of my younger gelding. The upside…I was able to take that horse and do things with him everyone told he that he would never do (like go to horse shows and win).

    The other HUGE learning curve I had with my horses especially the gelding I keep referring to…he had some underlying health issues (ulcers and neck issues) and once they were addressed he was so much happier, calmer and willing and able to learn. My older gelding was labeled as “nervous” and “sketchy” when he was in his stall and would sometimes act out and scare people- he was diagnosed with Cushing’s and since he started meds and a different diet he has been a totally different horse.

     
  14. trisha

    January 31, 2014 at 9:24 pm

    I too saved a horse. A 20+ year old retired speed racker.He was scared to death of people,he wouldn’t let anyone catch him. I think it took over 45 minutes to catch him. It took weeks to be able to walk up to him in the pasture without him running from us. I think it was almost 6 months beforeiI ever put a saddle on him. He became my baby,he was like my child. He got to where he would fellow me around like a lost puppy. When I finally was able to ride him,he was awesome.I have back problems and he was one of those horses that took good care to make sure there was no stumbles,no tripping, but he would give me everything his heart had. He was just an awesome horse. He has since passed after living 5 years with me. When I got him you could count his ribs from 10 feet away. Could count the bones in his back. My train of thought was I’ll buy him but if he don’t make it then I tried. Adnd I continue getting abused starved and mistreated horses. Its a passion that you have to have. Try to identify with the horse learn where the horse is coming from. Read them they will tell you their story.

     
  15. Bughboo

    January 31, 2014 at 9:56 pm

    Have you had his mouth checked by an equine dentist? Mouth ulcers, broken teeth, exposed nerve, even a stiff hay stalk stuck between teeth or in a gum? That would be the first thing I did, then if the mouth is sound and he still doesnt want anything in his mouth, bosal or hackamore break him dont make him take a bit. One thing at a time figure out the mouth issue then go after the big scarey monsters that scare him. Lead him up to a hay wagon let him sniff and even eat off it. My daughters horse had a horrid fear of 4 wheelers…she would take him into the outdoor arena and had a friend just park a 4 wheeler beside it, the horse got used to walking past it, then we started it and let it sit and idle while he learned to walk past it, then while in the arena the 4wheeler was ridden very slowly around the outside of the arena again he could see it and my daughter just talked calmly and reassured him constantly that he was safe. Then the 4wheeler got faster and louder etc. He learned its not going to hurt him and his fear vanished. Yes it took alot of time but he got over his fears and trusted her with his very life. Ended up being her once in a lifetime horse. The love of her life!

     
    • Charitee

      January 31, 2014 at 11:14 pm

      Yes he has had everything checked such as teeth and back and it isn’t an issue. Thanks for the suggestions though!

       
  16. Dee

    January 31, 2014 at 10:01 pm

    My first horse was a neglected abused horse. His owner moved away and left him to be sold at a barn. He sat in a stall only taken out maybe once a month. His original trainer was known to beat him for making any mistakes!! He had been through 5 or 6 owners (1 month or less) before I started 1/2 boarding on him, he trusted no one, especially men! He would flip over, rear, bolt or anything else to try to get away.
    It took a long time but, he was the best horse. He was my best friend, my partner and would do anything I asked of him. He was that once in a lifetime horse!!!
    Patience and consistency are the key. I wish you a once in a lifetime horse!!!

     
  17. mj

    January 31, 2014 at 10:17 pm

    My horse turning 12 this year Got him when i quite young got him from the auctions at my home town they had drugged him… though i was told ahead of time he was spooky well… we eventually found … from a so called trainer he thought he was abused and for reasons… i wont go into i eventually had to work with my gelding myself he hated men absolutely hated them he wanted to bite one two years ago at horse camp hes gotten alot better with me just working with him he now lets two men pet him big accomplishment now backs blinded folded for me he now lets me have an American Flag near his face on a windy day lets me pick up his four back feet and lets me bareback ride him i feel so blessed to have my horse in my life its completely worth it Ground work and play time is extremely important ! its so worth it though get through the little battles first that’s what gives you hope .

     
  18. linda

    January 31, 2014 at 10:23 pm

    try ponying him without, then with an empty saddle….you may find he gets courage from the other horse, and if he bucks, u will not be hurt. That is where I am with a mule

     
    • Charitee

      January 31, 2014 at 11:14 pm

      Great idea Linda! I may just have to do that!

       
  19. Marcia Evans

    January 31, 2014 at 10:29 pm

    The first two rules of working with any horse are these: 1. No human may be hurt 2. No horse may be hurt. Any time you work with your horse your goal should be just to accomplish these two things. Especially with an abused animal who is constantly on guard and in a hyper sensitive mode, the more you can work in short stress free sessions, the better. Building confidence is the key. Ground work is important, and even just hanging out near the horse while he is in his stall or turned out can allow him to become more relaxed and calmer in your presence. Be consistent, be patient, and be generous with praise and stop your session before his anxiety takes over his brain. You must accept the fact that it will take you much longer to do simple things, but in the end he will learn he can trust you. And invest in the best safety gear you can afford i.e. helmet, vest etc. and wear them when working with or around your horse.

     
  20. Marion

    January 31, 2014 at 10:34 pm

    I work at a therapeutic riding center. We have 8 horses. Of those 8, 6 are rescues. It did take time, but now these horses will give everything they have to give and have and empathy toward disabled riders that is hard to find in “normal” horses. It is however, really important that we keep in mind where each one came from to avoid the possibility of “flashbacks”. Even with that, I wouldn’t trade any of them for any amount of money.

     
  21. Annette

    January 31, 2014 at 11:12 pm

    It is the same as working with abused kids or women. Empower them and they will be an amazing friend for life. My guy is wonderful with me but still has issues with men…but I trust his instincts in this area. He has many injuries that are long term and often get unearthed as we learn new things. It is a very slow process but nothing worth having comes without alot of work. I would take a special needs horse over any other type for a long term forever horse!

     
  22. Mary

    January 31, 2014 at 11:15 pm

    So true! I have owned a neglected mare as well as a severely abused gelding (scars from rope burns on his legs and even a dented sinus cavity), and have worked with a number of other abused/neglected situations. The mare was sold as a brood mare do to some saddle fitting issues, no one noticed until it was too late, that caused severe problems (ulcers and psychological issues). Before that however she was coming along nicely. My gelding I had for three and a half years. In the first year he went from barely steering, knowing no ground work, and kicking when you touched his legs to being able to wrap ropes around his legs and galloping bareback. It was going great until I moved to college. He never truly settled in and then someone went into his stall to “pet and feed him” I’m pretty sure he turned his butt to the girl and she smacked him pretty good because he reverted back to not even being able to touch him for several months. After many hours of sitting in his stall over several months we finally were able to start working on things again. I was getting frustrated and decided to sell him after about a year and a half later. A trainer bought him for their son and they are now doing 4H together, gather cattle, and even did a parade with banners and Christmas lights hanging off of him! He was always great with beginners and his issues were primarily on the ground at that point. From my understanding he is finally really settling in there and he has a large pasture to run around in with a good sized herd, as well as a little boy who loves him. The biggest advice I can give someone who chooses to take on the large but rewarding project of an abused horse is make sure you can work with other horses that will allow you to have a break for when you get frustrated, it can take a long time to make progress. If you aren’t making progress, consider if the horse feels comfortable in the environment it is in. It took my gelding 6 months to lay down with people around when I first got him, at the barn that I moved him to he would role and lay down but never truly settled in. If the horse can’t fully relax when it is in its stall or pasture consider what you could do to help the situation, even if that means finding another home. Working with rescues can be very rewarding, if you remember to be very patient and don’t expect results fast. I also made a cute sign as if Rex were saying it himself stating that he had some trust issues, stated his background, and to please not attempt to pet or feed him unless I had him out. It helped people to understand where I was coming from and people respected his space from that point.

     
  23. Lori Walsh

    January 31, 2014 at 11:23 pm

    I have a good story about a wonderful horse that my husband “rescued” for me. I grew up with horses and have been horse crazy all my life.I had 2 horses, one since I was 15 yrs. old, when I found myself a single mother to a 2 year old daughter. My older mare I gave to my best friend and my other mare I was forced to sell. Years passed and I met a wonderful man and we went to Wyoming to visit one of my dear girlfriends. She lived in the country and she let a man she knew keep his horse out in her field.She had no knowledge of horses but always knew how much I loved them and was excited for me to see this horse.When we got there, we took carrots out to see him, She called his name and he ran clear up to the fence from a large pasture. I had never witnessed a horse do that before. Patty told me that he had been on her property for the past 2 years and the guy never did anything with him, except loaned him out to his friends during hunting season. His name was Jazz and he was a beautiful black Morgan. About a month after our visit, Patty called me very upset. She said that the man was going to take Jazz to the sale barn for slaughter. It was 15 years ago during the drought and the hay prices were very high.He didn’t want to pay for hay and wanted to get rid of the horse. When my husband got home I told him about the phone call. He told me to call her back that we would buy him. I told him that I didn’t even know if he was ride able. He didn’t; care. He said ” You love horses, and even if he’s just a lawn ornament you will love him”. So I called the guy told him I would pay what the going price for what the “killers” would pay and would be up the next weekend to purchase him.He told me that he was a riding horse but he didn’t have the time for him. I asked him if he would bring his tack since I no longer had any but I would buy him regardless. I drove the 5 hours to get there seeing the guy standing in the field with the halter and rope near the horse.When I got out of the truck Patty’s husband Don told me that the guy had been there for 45 minutes but couldn’t catch the horse. I walked out to the field straight up to Jazz and slipped the halter on without a problem. The guy told me that the horse just liked women better. I gave him the check and asked if he brought his tack. He made up an elaborate story (red flag) so I asked Patty if she would call her sister in law to borrow hers. He became very anxious and started to tell me that the horse acted a fool. I stayed calm and said I just wanted to see what I was working with,Bonnie brought over all of the tack I needed and when I started to brush Jazz he relaxed. He stiffened when I put the saddle on, but I chalked that up to not being handled for the last 2 years. I rode him around for about 1/2 an hour and he crow hopped a couple of times but really wasn’t too bad.I bought him some feed and told Patty I would come back to get him in a week. I needed to find a place to board him and rent a trailer. My husband went with me to get him (no horse experience) and asked me ” Who is going to help you get him in the trailer?” I had been praying the whole drive to Wyoming that Jazz was food motivated and would easily go into a trailer. I did have plan A and plan B, but thank the good Lord he was food motivated. I had Chris shake the pan of rolled oats from the escape door at the front of the trailer, gave Jazz a handful of grain, and he walked right in.I got him settled in to his new home, the poor guy was so excited to see other horses, as he had been all alone for the past 2 years.I ground worked him for about a month.He was the spookiest horse I had ever seen and I had worked at a stable from the time I was 12 until I was 16. I was brushing him and I dropped the brush, when it hit the ground he pulled back and broke the halter. I knew that he needed a lot of time and I had patience to spare.If I had him tied and someone else was putting a saddle on their own horses he would panic and pull back. He had horrible old scars on his hind legs that looked like they were caused by a rope or something. I didn’t know his story but I knew that it wasn’t good and someone had mistreated him some time in his past.I rode him bareback at first and he was fine but as soon as a saddle appeared he became petrified. It was so sad, he was so sweet and had the biggest soul filled eyes.I met 2 other women close to my age that boarded as well that had good horse experience and they helped me with the saddle issues.It took a very long time to get a saddle on him and I had to purchase a synthetic one ( not my preference) but he coped much better with the lightness of it. I could never ” swing” the saddle upon his back. I always placed it gently and slowly put the stirrups down, if they hit his side he would come unglued.I became very good friends with those 2 wonderful women who helped us and rode together for 14 years. I always rewarded him with a cookie after his saddle was on and he always looked forward to our ritual. He never got past other people swinging a saddle on their own horses. I have always had a good bond with my horses and enjoy spending time and working with them. I established the strongest bond with Jazz out of all the horses I have been honored to have in my life. He always whinnied every time I would pull up to the barn and everyone would comment about it. He would follow me all over and would hug you with his neck. People always would tell me how much he loved me that it was so apparent. I believe that God placed him in my life because he knew that I needed that horse as much as he needed me.He was the Alpha horse at the barn and everyone loved him and comment that he had such presence. I shared 14 years with him and my family referred to him as ” the other man”. This past March he died of colic. I was there for his last breath. He was a once in a lifetime horse and I am Blessed to have had him in my life. In the beginning there were times that I thought I was nuts for taking him on. I will be forever grateful that I did because I loved him with all of my heart. I was devastated when he passed and I still miss him every day, but the gift of love that horse gave me is priceless.Take the chance, it can be the best choice you ever made.
    Sincerely,
    Lori Walsh

     
  24. Paul James

    February 1, 2014 at 2:25 am

    Great work Charitee, sad to see so many horses end up at the knackeries through absolutely no fault of their own. l commend and admire your hard work.

     
  25. Jessica

    February 1, 2014 at 6:19 am

    Just a thought… Could having someone on a quiet “bomb proof” horse riding with you help? If he can feed off the other horses calm disposition, he may instead of bucking wildly, go to the other horse for security and comfort. Maybe he has a best buddy in the field?

     
  26. EaZy Horses

    February 1, 2014 at 9:34 am

    I had a quarter horse mare that was biting people. with biting, I mean REALLY biting.. she was my first horse and I took a horsetrainer education with her. Aicha was my teacher in many ways. She might had some bad experiences in her past, might was allowed to bite people when she was a filly and even when she was getting older. One thing is sure, she has a big personality. And I miss her. So, if I can say one thing: Dont give up! If you really like your horse, get help from profeessinals and maybe go one step back, starting on the ground. I think you could help your horse with some things from Linda Tellington – Jones practices:) have you tried that? with TTouch we can have influence on the horses mentality, give them more self estime and much more. These horses can get real good partners, like Stacy says, they see you like their savior.. Good luck:-)

     
  27. C.C. Beaudette-Wellman

    February 1, 2014 at 12:41 pm

    We have mostly abused and neglected horses. We start from scratch and use a liberty method. Success with something so broken, makes all the hours of the journey that more special. Thank you Stacey for understanding its not a quick fix, far from it! Flash backs will never completely go away but the reaction to them will. “Saving one animal will not change the world, but it will change the world for that one animal”.
    That’s what keeps us going. It’s an extremely depressing life choice to rescue because you see a side of mankind that is nothing short of horrendous. Thank you Stacey for giving so many the education to #1 communicate and listen ! to their horse and also be kind.

     
  28. bobbiejo81

    February 1, 2014 at 5:49 pm

    Im not sure what all has been mentioned in previous comments as Ive not read them all yet..but the first thing I would recommend would be to stop trying to ride him and go back to more ground work..with my rescues, I set up an ‘obstacle course’ of sorts(small step-in t posts with plastic bags tied to them, heavy duty pallets as a ‘bridge’, railroad ties or logs to walk over, around, etc and anything else that you know to be their triggers–in your case I would have tractor/4wheeler something left running nearby as well) and after lunging, lead your horse through this course several times a day, both with and without tack, and only after he is completely comfortable with that, then try under saddle again. Mix up the patterns, maybe move the tep-in posts, or he will begin to expect a trigger in a certain area. I would also try a rope bridle and stay away from bits for now. It is certainly going to be a very long journey but when it all over it will be worth it. One of my rescue was beaten by a man and I eventually figured out that it was with something leather, it took 4 months of letting my boyfriend be the only one to feed/water her, the only one to lead her to her stall after turnout and to turnout every day.. for her to start to trust him. I have have her for a little over a year and I still cant use anything leather on her or even sit a leather saddle near her stall or she starts to shake and her entire body tenses and she was 17 when I got her and never started under saddle so I decided to not start her, but she is worked alongside everyone else in ground work and now my 4 year old son can lead her and groom her and I am not worried about her spooking. She is great to have around the new horses, as she is the dominant mare and is great at teaching them herd dynamics. Best of luck with your boy and dont give up on him. Its great that you decided to rescue, every horse on my farm is a rescue, some came to me worse than others but each and everyone makes progress at their own rate, like Stacy said.

     
  29. Terri Anderson

    February 1, 2014 at 8:17 pm

    When I first got back into horses, I bought a mare with great bloodlines and she was talented, but threw her head most of the time…I bought her knowing this….. I had two different vets check her over, but the third one found a bad wolf tooth in a weird place, that was being banged by the bit part of the time,(explaining the part of the time behavior). I was present when the anesthetic wore off after removing the tooth and floating the rest. That mare looked at me from that moment as her savior from her pain……I also put her on ulcer guard,as she was touchy on her sides and generally nervous. She became a relaxed, wonderful horse. It did take a lot of time for her to realize the pain was gone…..over a year ….. Good luck, but remember to always be safe…..

     
  30. LEE GALEN

    February 2, 2014 at 8:27 am

    It takes great patience and concentration to bring an abused horse back and I believe the horse never really forgets what was done to them. You have to watch all the time not to trigger that fear.
    I bought a horse that was horribly head shy and was almost impossible to halter or bridle. I knew that a male “trainer” had routinely brutally twisted his right ear, forcing his head down to “twitch” him for clipping.
    Five years later he trusts me 90% of the time and if I bridle him exactly the same way every time there is no problem. I can even clip his bridle path if I just stand quietly talking to him for about half an hour and rub him down with the clippers running . Every now and then, for no apparent reason he will become very nervous and I will have to calm him down just to put his halter on.
    It’s so sad to know that he still has that abuse in his memory.

     
  31. MarySue

    November 26, 2014 at 12:41 pm

    I volunteer at a rescue stable and have just adopted my first horse. A very calm Walker who was starved but does not exhibit the signs of any other abuse…thankfully! He is not very sensitive about his feet so we think he was fortunate to have escaped soring (look it up on YouTube….it’s horrific!!!) A huge thanks to Stacy and the commenters here for addressing the issue of abused horses. I want to share my experience with a little Hackney pony that I’ve been working with, though. She was abused by TWO separate owners as well as being starved. She has severe trust issues and has been so far deemed unadoptable!! She is very fearful of being touched … at all … anywhere. She will attempt to “cuddle up” to you as though she is seeking affection but, as soon as you start to move your hand to touch her, she will cower and cringe. She has reared out of fear, kicked at me and tried to bite me. I have handled all of these without ever hitting her and she is finally, after months of work, calming down and trusting and respecting me some. I am not a trainer but I have spent a great deal of time studying the methods of Stacy and Guy McClean and other natural horsemanship and do my best to apply what I’ve learned. My greatest tool is a loving and empathetic heart that truly tries to understand the thoughts and feelings of the animal. She is the first horse that I have ever worked with. Her sweetness under all that fear stole my heart and I just wanted desperately to calm her fears and show her what love really is. Right from the start, she would do amazing things…walked over tarp, kiddie pool, wooden bridge etc the first time I asked her with no problem! She only acts up out of fear so I see no reason for anyone to ever have had any reason to beat her…to see such a sweet and willing horse be so fearful makes me furious with the abusers! I do LOTS of groundwork and de-sensitizing with her. It’s so sad that even after months of loving touch, touching her is truly her biggest fear. It took months of gentle persuasion to convince her to give her front hooves to me…still working on the back ones – they are much more sensitive for her. To calm her food aggression, I will carry her grain into her stall and rub her as she eats. I have stood beside her at the round bale and picked at the hay and offered her handfuls. You should have seen her reaction the first time I kneeled near her in the field and picked at the grass while she was grazing. Up to that point she had always evaded any approach in the field. I was just looking for a way to convince her to move TOWARD me. The look on her face when she noticed that this human was grazing was priceless and it paid off! For the first time, SHE actually walked toward ME!! I’ve learnt a lot from her. She teaches me when I’m rushing things and I’ve learned to take baby steps with her….always looking for that small win to end on. I am planning on adopting her so she can have a comfortable life and always known only loving care for the rest of her life. I wanted to share our experience as an encouragement to others. I really appreciate all the tips and encouragement from every one else’s stories! God bless!!

     

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