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Franklin Levinson's

Horse Help Center

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A little guidance for rescued horse

Dear Mr. Levinson,

Just heard GREAT news that my long childhood friend (and fellow horsewoman) just recieved a "rescue" Palomino in Hilliard Florida. She has some serious trust/fear issues. My friend and I grew up together riding our first horses together for several years. Her parents punished my friend (for grades) and sold Shanna without telling her. It is nearly 25 years later and she has struggled with the loss all this time. She recently moved to a wonderful spread in Northern florida and was preparing/fixing up her property to take in a few horses, She barely got the last fencepole in when she was made aware of this beautiful yet surely abused mare not too far away.

I've since received at least a dozen calls about her excitement and baby steps towards progressing to a bonded relationship with the mare.

We both bought our horses who were over our heads as far as experience (we were both rebels and not wanting to have our instructor get us a horse...we knew what we were Surprisingly enough with a few falls and runaways we all four got along famously. Good times! Not being geographically close to her (where I could lend a hand) I am searching for any resource she can add to her toolkit. That's when I stumbled onto your site. I understand that the trust/fear issue will take a long long time and must involve a great deal of patience. I believe my friend can accomplish great things with this new mare.

Her background: 18 months old...Was in an unsheltered pen with dirty water and no feed (it was coming "tomorrow")... She bites... She kicks (in all directions)... She won't haul -- although they were able to get her on the trailer.... took a while.... She was found wearing her foal sized halter....serious rub/burns in her head, hard to open mouth for feeding.

Tonight is her actual first night at my friends home. She approaches, was able to change halter, feeds carrots and just talks to her a LOT. We are both massage therapists so we are well connected to the relationship between intention and outcome. I have perused your site/archive and found some similar problems. I will ask her if she would like your DVD for a Xmas gift. I only wish I was closer to lend a hand. Do you ever do any clinics in the northern Florida area? Are any of your students situated near Florida?

Thank you for any advice, Robyn

PS ... Reading the name Wayne Dyer on your site convinced me this was the place to look.


Hi Robyn,

Wayne Dyer is a old friend of mine. He and his family (8 children) spent quite a bit of time at my Maui ranch years ago. He actually mentions me in several of his books. What a bright light on the planet he is.

Most horses will come around to being trusting and compliant once you have gained their respect. The secret to gaining their respect is a human's ability to direct the movement of the horse on the ground. Rather than focusing on specific behavioral problems (kicking, biting, etc.) the focus should be consistently and appropriately directing movement. At Liberty lunging in a round pen is a great way to direct movement. Expect the horse to kick out and be resistent initially. Ignore this and simply keep asking for the movement. Reward the horse for compliance every few rotations around the ring. The reward is immediate release of the pressure of the request (a short break) and a verbal "Good Boy." Once simple circles are done compliantly then begin to ask for directional changes. These requests must be done with appropriate body language and positioning. Once you have the horse's respect for you as its good leader than most of the unwanted behavior will vanish.

Don't do endless circles. The intention is not to tire the horse out. Don't push too hard or push to go too fast. Trotting is a great gait to do this at (if you can do this at a walk that is great as well). Requesting slow-motion movement is good as well. Things can always be speeded up. It is actually more challenging to go slow. Frequent rewards for compliance (the horse even
to comply) sets up a winning cycle for the horse. A winning cysle is when you make a request of the horse, it
to comply and gets an immediate reward of the release of the pressure of the request and maybe a verbal Good Boy. That is all that is required to begin to set yourself up as the leader of the dance. It is, after all, a dance.

The greatest suggestion I can give you is for you to get more education about horses. How do you get that education inexpensively and quickly? A good question with a simple answer. Purchase several training DVD's. There are many good ones found in the backs of all horse magazines. I have several in the shopping corral of my website that would prove very helpful to you. No matter whose you get, get several and watch them a few times. You will learn quite a bit about the psychology of equines and the techniques and methods to train them. Learning the techniques of training horses is like learning ballroom dancing. You need to see it to 'get' it. If you do acquire a few training DVD's it will advance your abilities quickly and allow you to efficiently and appropriately bring this horse around to respect and trust. It will always take some time. Professional trainers who really understand the nature of horses (not all do) know that it can take months to bring an abused or wild horse to trust. I do not know the severity of the problems with the horse you are mentioning. But I do know PATIENCE, CONSISTENCY, SKILL, PRECISION, COMPASSION, NEVER TAKING ANYTHING THE HORSE DOES PERSONALLY (it is just being a horse) AND UNDERSTANDING / RECOGNIZING WHEN THE HORSE IS TRYING TO COMPLY AND REWARDING THE HORSE FOR THAT 'TRY' are the essentials of you being able to bring the horse back around to trust and respect.

Thanks for your email and I extend best wishes to you, your friend and this horse for a happy and joyful Holiday Season.

Sincerely yours, Franklin

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