Tag Archives: young horse

Horse Rescue: What it really means

I was asked to help rescue a horse and her foal yesterday. I don’t usually do this as I hate having to fix my trailer afterward, but something compelled me to do this one.

We drove to this large farm and a rolling field with 11 mares: most with foals and back in foal. The stallion ran wild with them: a no-so-great quarter horse with a nasty chunk of hide off his back leg (exposed and proud fleshed) with nice side profile but on the weedy side. No papers (as usual) and breeding mares of almost every breed other than quarter horse.

Also, as usual, a group of drug addicted men were there to shout and scream to get the horses to “obey”. This is why I don’t usually do this: just want to tie them all up and duct tape their mouths. I soon discovered, all the horses were completely wild: I don’t imagine many of them had been handled in over a decade, and most never touched by a human at all. Their feet were unbelievable.

My friend was after an Arabian cross mare and her colt. After a closer look, once we “softly” moved them into a smaller corral, I noticed the Arabian cross was broken down in the back pastern area, and my friend wanted her to pleasure ride into the hills for several days. Not a good choice.

There were 2 big mares: dark bays with 4 white legs. One had foaled that previous night, and her placenta was not fully discarded. The owners of these horses (son of the father) didn’t seem to understand the consequences of this. I suggested to my friend to get to like bays really quick, because the one mare not yet foaled was stunning. It was later revealed she was half hackney.

We tried to connect with the Arabian cross: this mare and colt were completely wild, and any movement too fast would have sent her over a fence. Since we had to use a chute to move them into the trailer, I didn’t want any part of this, so we abandoned this mare. My friend decided to work with the hackney mare and her unborn foal. She was lovely: ate a few apples from our hands and softly moved towards the trailer and hopped on.

It’s a sign: this mare was meant to be. She free hauled home with no sweating or screaming. I have always said: the right thing is often the easiest. We are not meant to struggle: it’s the Universe’s way of saying we are on the right path. I use this motto in all my training as well.

Today though, I am paying the price of horse rescue: my heart can’t handle this well. As I write this, the other mares and their babies are going to slaughter in a huge truck to Saskatchewan. The bigger hackney mom will likely not survive the trip: her placenta will infect and eventually kill her, and it’s quick. Her newborn will not survive the trip. The other new foals will be crushed in travel.

Why do we do this to horses? Why do we neglect and treat them this way? These are questions I will likely never answer: I often lose faith in mankind. The two words: man and kind do not always blend well on this planet.

When you receive this post in your email, those horses will have their fates sealed. Take a moment in silence and say goodbye. One of them is alive and well, and galloping with 2 other very special mares. She was worth rescuing.

I would do it again.

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Pushy 8-month-old Cob needs to learn manners.

Question: Hi, I hope you can help. I have had my little cob for about 9 months, at first he was very bossy and wouldn’t even let me touch his face without trying to bite and ears flat back , he got loads better and now I can stroke and even brush his face, he is great to catch and comes when called , but lately, even when  I go to greet him as he comes over when I get there, he puts his ears flat back and does that trying to send me away thing , he will try to bite if I persist in trying to touch him, unless I can get to scratch him in his fave spot. I spend a lot of time with him , he will not let me pick  his feet up most of the time either, I know his previous owner and I know she would hurt him too , how can I get him to respect and trust me, I am rather nervous of him now but I love him and won’t let him down.

Answer from April Reeves: Hello Carol from the UK! I’m glad you spend a lot of time with this horse. It is the best therapy you can give him, short of a few ground lessons that I will give you that should keep you busy for about half a year.

One thing you didn’t mention was whether he was gelded or not. This would make the world of difference if he wasn’t castrated yet. Once that is done, his whole attitude will change. However, even as a young male he should still show respect and manners, as it will carry forward when he is gelded.

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How can I put a pushy yearling in his place with a herd member?

Question: I have an 18 month old Quarter Horse x TB who is kept with my 21 year old Welsh X. My problem is that my youngster pushes the old one around all the time, herding him, biting him and has now chewed half his tail off. How can I put him back in his place in the pecking order?? Many thanks

Answer from April Reeves: I want to start by saying that your Appendix QH is lovely. He has a nice balance to his body, and at this age it’s hard to find, which means he will only get better.

While his attitude is unacceptable to you, lets look at the good side of who he is and what he is doing. First of all, I’m assuming he’s a gelding, or else we stop here and he gets castrated before you go any further, as it will only get worse regardless of what I say here.

You can’t change his behavior. Read this as ‘you’. All the groundwork in the world, all the charm school you can throw at him won’t alter who he is in a herd situation. That is up to him and his herd mates to decide, and while we humans often sit back and freak out at the charade that’s happening out in the field, to them it’s nature and ritual.

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How do I feed my yearling Arabian filly correctly?

Question: I have a yearling Arabian filly that I want to feed correctly. I have gone through countless pages of books, online websites, and opinions from feed stores, friends, trainers, and breeders. EVERYONE is an ‘expert’ – no one has a consistent opinion and I’m getting frustrated.

What I DO know, is that she is doing really well on her Orchard/Alfalfa (30% alfalfa or less) and now that she’s a yearling I want to drop her protein from 16% to 14%. She gets 2 qt/day of the grain. She’s ok on the feed I was giving her, but I DON”T like how sweet it was. She has free access to the hay, and I want to put her on something that she will truly benefit from as far as her graining. I saw in another post your comments on Arabians and sweet feed and its effects on their coat and system.

What are your opinions on feeding the Growing Arabian Yearling? Do you think their tendency to take a little longer to mature physically should change the “regular” young horses diet? In what way?

Answer from April Reeves: When it comes to feeding first ask 2 things:

1. Are there foodstuffs in the product that a horse would not find in the wild (molasses, sugars, especially refined, corn, soy, oils)?

2. Do the feeds you purchase (concentrates) have studies done by the manufacturer themselves? Many companies are jumping on the ‘trends’ bandwagon, meaning they build what horse owners want. Problem is, not all horse owners have a clue as to what their horses actually ‘need’. We tend to overfeed our horses, pumping them with chemicals, diets and concentrates that they really don’t need and their liver and kidneys sure don’t! I’m always questioning the motives behind a feed company’s choice of ingredients. Many are in it for the quick dollar, not the simple science of the horse.

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Is there hope for a 3-year-old mare with her flighty nature and inability to learn?

Question: Hello, I have been training horses since I was 12. I’m no expert by any means and have lots to learn.

But as of right now I am currently working with a 3 year old quarter horse. She is the most nervous insecure horse I have ever worked with. Her previous owner told me they had started her under the saddle already and she had accepted it, which I found through further training was a lie. I have been constantly working with her since October and am hardly moving forward. I started right from scratch with basic halter training. Now, I have ridden her only because I was pushed into it by her owner. I stopped because I felt she was not ready, every time I sack her out its like its all new to her. I have used many objects such as a bag on a whip, a cowboy hat, a blanket, just a plain stick, and she still flips each time I bring out an object. Even if it was an object she has previously seen! She is having major difficulties with switching eye to eye. And frankly I am running out of ideas. I’m not sure if I should just move on and ride her in hopes I can work it out of her on her back.
Answer from April Reeves: I have run across a mare like this. You may have to back off from using objects to desensitize her as it makes them worse.

Where this problem originated was back in her history somewhere. Owners never tell you the whole story. It’s up to you to assume the worst and work from there. People can really ruin a young horse.

This mare will take a great deal of consistent gentle handling. Get rid of bags on the end of whips and other cool toys that work on other horses. With this mare, you will be doing basic work. But it’s not the work you are doing, it is HOW you will carry out this work.
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New horse owner wonders if she should sell the horse

Question: We recently bought a 3-year-old horse for our daughter.  I know it probably wasn’t the smartest thing to do but the horse was very quiet and we were assured that he had no problems.  He does seem quiet most of the time but every now and then when your not expecting it he will blow up.  It’s not a bolt but more of a jumping straight in the air and then striking out.  I think he is simply trying to avoid work, but I am worried that someone will get hurt.  I am trying to decide if selling this horse now would be my best decision as with a more experienced person I’m sure he will be great, I just want something safe for my daughter (she is 14 and has 6 years experience riding). We are an experienced horse family but if this is likely to progress into a continuous problem I don’t know if we want to deal with it.  Thanks for any advice.

Answer from April Reeves: This is one of my favorite questions as I deal with this every day. First, buying a young horse for a young girl who has had time in the saddle does not bother me. This horse does not sound aggressive enough to do any real damage, and in fact may become one of her better ‘teachers’. But the learning curve begins here, as there are differences between a horse below 7 and a horse above 7 that we will discover in this answer.

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How do I tackle a frisky 7-mth-old Paint colt?

Question: Hi there. I’ve been around horses all my life but to be honest, I’ve never actually trained one. I’ve only ridden and taken care of them.

I adopted a Paint Cross colt a Month ago who’s now 7 Months old.  He lives out with my 4 other horses who are all way taller than him.

He’s a sweet little guy who loves attention but he has no emotion.  He’s so calm and cool and thinks he is stronger than anyone.  He walks into me, through me, nibbles me, pushes me with his head and all the rest.  Doesn’t know his space and does everything a colt can at that age.

I know it’s normal so I’ve decided to tackle his problems NOW instead of later on when he will be stronger.

I read you’re not supposed to be violent with them when they are so young but he’s emotionless.  He only responds when I smack him.

Do you think you could give me some basic tips on how to earn his respect?  Am I right using physical force on him when he misbehaves?

I have no intention of training him under saddle alone but I want to at least get his ground manners in check. Thank you, Laura

Answer from April Reeves: Hi Laura. I first want to speak to your comment “I’ve never actually trained one.” I have this theory/understanding that anyone who has been in the presence of a horse has had influence on the ‘training’ of that horse (what he knows of humans). This is because horses ‘soak’ everything a human does. All your movements, signals, voice and body language ‘speak’ to a horse. That non-verbal language translates into what the horse will become. So while you may think you have never trained a horse in all your life, you have actually spent years training horses. Humans believe that training is simply a matter of learning techniques. While this is true to a point (and it’s best to learn good techniques that produce happy results) humans need to understand the horse at a much different level first before entering into a relationship of any kind. Humans must learn to speak their language first.

This is where we will start.

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