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Franklin Levinson's

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ex-racehorse for foster home


I have been offering my services as a volunteer at a local animal shelter here in Massachusetts for about a year now. Recently a friend and I have decided to take a wonderful 15 year old TB mare out to foster for a few months, because we feel she gets lost in the crowd of horses and cannot flourish in such an environment. She has a tattoo, so we believe she has been raced, and she is girth-shy, which may indicate some (poor) under saddle training years ago. She has been in the shelter for two years, coming in from an abusive/neglective situation. The foster is set to begin in about a month. Out of the partnership, I am the one with 8 years of riding experience, so it will be my job to handle the under saddle work. The staff of the shelter has tacked her, lunged her extensively, and sat on her, but that is all. We both understand that this may be a very slow process. I have been reading your advice on peoplesí ex- racehorse difficulties, and was wondering if you would be willing to give me some pointers as to how to get started with her. She is wonderful in hand. I am just looking for advice on where you would recommend beginning my work with her.

Thank you very much for your time! I look forward to hearing from you soon!

Hello Natalia,

I have found the best thing for rehabilitatiing any horse is throrughly re-staring the horse. Begin at the beginning with extensive 'sacking out' and ground work including ground driving. I would treat the horse as if it were a two year old to the basics to make certain only good things are in place. Even if she appears to be "wonderful in hand" I would just about make certain she is bomb-proof. It won't take you long to discover what her limits and triggers are and where she needs some additonal training enhancement. When you start riding her, I would begin by having someone lunge you on the horse for a while. Then make certain you put a very good and light 'stop' on the horse. I would ride in a small area (round pen maybe) with just a rope and halter (rope halter is really good for this) for a little while to get her really soft to your body and leg cues and bring her mouth back really good. Perhaps ride her with just a neck rope a bit too.

Additionally I would suggest a lot of flexing, bending and serpentines (figure 8s), turns on the fore and hind end, leg yields and good solid foundational training with some basic dressage. Take your time..perhaps a few months anyway. After all that you might want the horse for yourself. If you plan on hacking out, go with someone and make it short at first. Gradually make the time longer and longer. When you discover she is afraid of things on the trail, take your time to get her over these boogymen. Pretend you are creating your perfect horse. Then you will......Let her teach you a lot and she will create her perfect human partner. Then you teach whoever is going to be with that horse. That might be the most important aspect of what you do for this horse....

Good Luck, Franklin

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