Rescue Report

An Unusual Sight On The Trail Ride Home

May 19, 2014

Shara Rutberg
Credit: Shara Rutberg
Banjo didn't mind loud music and flags on the cross country course!

Spring weather reminds me of a funny Banjo-the-ex-rescue horse, story. When I was working at the Colorado Horse Rescue, I boarded Banjo at a nice barn close by.

 I’d often ride Banjo over to the rescue so he could hang out or help calm a frightened young horse.

If you’ve read my blog, you know that Banjo was once a dangerous horse. However, by that time Banjo had become a reliable, trustworthy companion. He’d been to hunter/jumper shows, eventing competitions, trail rides, and more. He was used to seeing unusual new things.

But, Banjo was about to be surprised.

One day, I was riding Banjo from the horse rescue back to his barn. As we walked down the driveway toward the road, an unusual vehicle came into view—an old-style covered wagon right out of the Old West.  

But this one was covered in bright, flowing cloth and flags. It was also very loud! A bright tune blasted from loud speakers attached to the sides. It was pulled by two lovely Gypsy Vanners.

I’m not sure what I expected Banjo’s reaction to be. On some level, I thought, he’s part Clydesdale; he’ll know what this is. As if a knowledge of wagons was somehow in his DNA.

Well, as you can imagine, I was wrong. His reaction just like that of any other normal horse—snorting, sheer panic, and running to the safety of his barn.

I did my best to turn Banjo around, so he could see that what he thought of as a horse-eating demon was actually harmless. I wanted him to learn to overcome his fear.  

This wasn’t easy! Banjo tops the scales at 1,500 pounds. It was like being on the back of a charging elephant. But after some determined riding, I managed to turn him around.

By this time, the wagon was at least 100 yards away. Just looking at it brought on a whole new round of snorting and prancing. But at this point, Banjo was able to look at it and move toward it.

This was good, because the wagon was going in the same direction we were. We had to follow it home. It was an interesting ride. Banjo looked for the scary wagon around every corner.

Somehow, we made it home safely. In the weeks that followed, Banjo kept a sharp lookout for the wagon-demon.

When facing scary, new situations with horses, it’s helpful to be patient. Give them plenty of time to look, smell, and investigate the new object. Dismounting is always an option, especially if your horse’s flight instincts are high.

For more information on how to handle scary new situations on the trail, check out this informative article on our newly redesigned website!  

http://trailridermag.com/article/conquering-your-horses-fear-trail

ahomeforeveryhorse_mock_logo  If you want more information on rescue horses or you want to locate a rescue near you, please check out AHomeForEveryHorse.com. Equine.com and the Active Interest Media Equine Network have joined forces with the American Horse Council’s Unwanted Horse Coalition to launch A Home for Every Horse Project. This project helps find homes for America’s 170,000 to 200,000 horses in need of care and shelter. Here’s how it works: • Begin the search for your next equine partner atAHomeForEveryHorse.com. You can search horses waiting for homes at nonprofit shelters across the country. Browse by rescue horse, or find rescue organizations in your area. • Visit the site’s “Services” section to learn about your local rescue organizations. Find out how you can volunteer, donate, or simply spread the word. • Look for upcoming stories on EquiSearch.com related to horse rescue. If your 501(c)(3) rescue organization would like to join the Home For Every Horse Project, call (866) 467-7323, ext. 100. Equine.com is a part of Active Interest Media Equine Network. 


 


The Story of Max Part III

April 29, 2014


Max loves any toy!

In my last blog, I described my thought-provoking first meeting with Max. At the time of our meeting, he was a rescue horse with a dangerous, dark side.

Max had been known to attack people on occasion. So, to keep myself safe, I had to teach him that I didn’t approve of biting. I did this by smacking his nose when he tried to bite me. He never tried it again. As it turned out, this experience set the tone for the rest of our relationship.

I successfully moved Max from the horse rescue to the barn where I kept my other rescue horse, Banjo. As I began to work with Max, I found a gentle, willing soul. He was nothing like the vicious horse who’d been described by the rescue-facility staff. I marveled at Max’s sweet, goofy behavior.

Max was actually a comedian who loved to play. A rope hanging in the barn became the best toy ever!

After I taught him not to bite, never once did Max try to hurt me.

In fact, he was he was so loving and sweet, I often wondered if I’d gotten the wrong horse. I was confused. Why had a vicious horse suddenly changed into a sweet, friendly companion?

I came up with all kinds of theories. I finally chalked it up to horses’ intuitive instincts. Horses are masters at sensing our intentions.

My true intention with Max was to create a loving, respectful relationship with him. I wasn’t afraid to create healthy boundaries to keep myself safe.

Max had tested that boundary once in the beginning. He needed to know that I’d follow through. Afterward, he was content to respect my boundaries and leadership. I’d proven myself trustworthy in his eyes. He was then safe to relax, to just be a horse.

Max did still test my boundaries from time to time, just to keep it interesting, but there was no viciousness in his actions.

Over the weeks that followed, Max excelled in his training. He’s one of the smartest horses I’ve ever known. He loved his lessons. He’d greet me at the pasture gate when I drove into the barn.

As I worked with Max, I realized he was also teaching me an important life lesson—that I could maintain boundaries and still have healthy relationships.

In fact, I learned that boundaries are vital to healthy, successful relationships with both horses and people.


A-Home-For-Every-Horse

If you want more information on rescue horses or you want to locate a rescue near you, please check out AHomeForEveryHorse.com. Equine.com and the Active Interest Media Equine Network have joined forces with the American Horse Council's Unwanted Horse Coalition to launch A Home for Every Horse Project.

This project helps find homes for America's 170,000 to 200,000 horses in need of care and shelter.
Here's how it works:
  • Begin the search for your next equine partner at AHomeForEveryHorse.com. You can search horses waiting for homes at nonprofit shelters across the country. Browse by rescue horse, or find rescue organizations in your area.
  • Visit the site's "Services" section to learn about your local rescue organizations. Find out how you can volunteer, donate, or simply spread the word.
  • Look for upcoming stories on EquiSearch.com related to horse rescue.

If your 501(c)(3) rescue organization would like to join the Home For Every Horse Project, call (866) 467-7323. Equine.com is a part of Active Interest Media Equine Network.

The Story of Max (Part Two)

April 09, 2014

In my last blog entry, I began telling the story of Max, my project horse from the Colorado Horse Rescue. He was a comedian, with a dark side. Specifically, he liked to scare and bite people.

All the staff members at the rescue were afraid to handle Max, so when it came time for me to take him to my barn, I had to halter him and load him into the trailer. Our first meeting turned out to be important.

My method of training horses is based on seeing the horse as an equal and a partner in the process. I work with horses through love and trust, not violence and fear.  So, how was I going to communicate to Max that he was loved and safe, but that his dangerous behavior wasn’t acceptable?  

My own rescue horse, Banjo, had also been deemed dangerous. His dangerous behavior was driven by fear. He needed to gain confidence through patient work.  

But Max’s story was different. His behavior had a certain amount of premeditation to it. I decided that when I met Max, I’d do my best to keep things pleasant. But if he tried to bite me I’d have to defend myself. (I’m not a fan of hitting horses, but when it comes to a biting horse, you have to protect yourself.)

On the day I went to get Max, the weather was cool and sunny. When I entered the big, dry pasture, he left the large herd and started coming toward me. That was how he approached most of his “victims.”  

 I was stuck by how handsome he was—this big, solid-black Quarter Horse with a devious twinkle in his eye.

When we reached each other, I began to stroke him and tell him how handsome he was. He seemed relaxed and ready to go. No sign of viciousness.

I slowly moved around to his left side to put on the halter. Then, with no change in his expression or any type of warning, he swung his head around, teeth bared, coming for my shoulder with tremendous force!

I was ready for him. I brought my hand down hard on his nose. He stopped short with a surprised expression in his face. Shock actually. Then he calmly turned his head around and waited patiently while I haltered him.

As I walked him quietly to the trailer, I could see the wheels turning in his head. Was he was plotting his next move? I easily loaded him into the trailer, and off we went.

Round one goes to Cate. But what would happen in the coming weeks?


A-Home-For-Every-Horse

If you want more information on rescue horses or you want to locate a rescue near you, please check out AHomeForEveryHorse.com. Equine.com and the Active Interest Media Equine Network have joined forces with the American Horse Council's Unwanted Horse Coalition to launch A Home for Every Horse Project.

This project helps find homes for America's 170,000 to 200,000 horses in need of care and shelter.
Here's how it works:
  • Begin the search for your next equine partner at AHomeForEveryHorse.com. You can search horses waiting for homes at nonprofit shelters across the country. Browse by rescue horse, or find rescue organizations in your area.
  • Visit the site's "Services" section to learn about your local rescue organizations. Find out how you can volunteer, donate, or simply spread the word.
  • Look for upcoming stories on EquiSearch.com related to horse rescue.

If your 501(c)(3) rescue organization would like to join the Home For Every Horse Project, call (866) 467-7323. Equine.com is a part of Active Interest Media Equine Network.

Rescue Report: The Story of Max

March 26, 2014


Max thinking of his next trick.

I’ve found that, like people, every horse has its own distinct personality. Take Max, my second project horse from Colorado Horse Rescue.

Max was a 5-year-old, solid-black Quarter Horse. He was also one of the smartest horses I’ve ever met. He wasn’t afraid of anything. He also had a mischievous side. He was joker. But this equine comic had a dark side.

Max was similar to my own rescue horse, Banjo, whom I’d already adopted and re-trained by the time I’d started working with Max. The two were similar in that they’d both been deemed dangerous horses.

At that time, Banjo was a beginner eventing horse, as well as my trusted companion. Now, I’ll tell you Max’s story.

Max was at the horse rescue because he’d injured one of his original owners. Both owners were subsequently scared of Max and wanted the horse rescue to find him a home.

Max’s original owners were well-intentioned, but inexperienced, horsepeople. Max was their first horse; they’d purchased him as a youngster with the hope of training him. That plan didn’t turn out well. Unfortunately, this often happens.

This set of circumstances reminds me of the saying: “Green-on-green makes black and blue.”

That is, an inexperienced person with an inexperienced/ untrained horse will get a lot of bruises. And that’s if the person is lucky. A green rider on a green horse could easily end up with broken bones.

These green-on-green matches are also unfortunate for the horse, which often learns inappropriate behavior from the start. Such a horse can become unruly or even dangerous. Many of these horses wind up at rescues or auctions. Like Max.

Once Max arrived at the horse rescue, he was turned out to pasture with the other horses. As I mentioned, Max was smart. Smart horses with nothing to do but hang out in the pasture often get into trouble. So, it’s not surprising that Max found a way to amuse himself.

Max’s idea of fun was to bite and scare unsuspecting volunteers. According to rescue staff, he’d approach people looking friendly and inviting. Once the person began to pet him, he’d bite a shoulder or hand!

Max had so much fun with the biting that he advanced to more aggressive behavior, such as striking out and charging.

How were Banjo and I going to turn this guy around? I thought. Were my usual techniques of patience and love going to work with this character?


Stay tuned for The Story of Max, Part II.


If you want more information on rescue horses or you want to locate a rescue near you, please check out AHomeForEveryHorse.com. Equine.com and the Active Interest Media Equine Network have joined forces with the American Horse Council’s Unwanted Horse Coalition to launch A Home for Every Horse Project.

This project helps find homes for America’s 170,000 to 200,000 horses in need of care and shelter.

Here’s how it works:
• Begin the search for your next equine partner atAHomeForEveryHorse.com. You can search horses waiting for homes at nonprofit shelters across the country. Browse by rescue horse, or find rescue organizations in your area.

• Visit the site’s “Services” section to learn about your local rescue organizations. Find out how you can volunteer, donate, or simply spread the word.

• Look for upcoming stories on EquiSearch.com related to horse rescue.

If your 501(c)(3) rescue organization would like to join the Home For Every Horse Project, call (866) 467-7323, ext. 100. Equine.com is a part of Active Interest Media Equine Network.



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