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Once quiet mare losing her mind!


I have been training horses for 21 yrs. Now, and I have yet to be as perplexed as I am with this mare (Claudia). For starters, this mare has been in my barn for the past 6 1/2 yrs. I used to use her for lessons and my camps, the kids loved her, and more importantly, she seemed to love the kids. I sold her to some clients of mine in 1999, she was working out great for them. In 2000 however, I became very ill, and was hospitalized for 11mos. During this time, my clients, who waited for me to get better, had to have some other trainers help with turn-outs, and unblanketing. Shortly after I was able to slowly start back to work when I noticed Claudia acting extremely head shy. We worked with her with little to no improvement. She then began acting crazy in her stall, wouldn’t let us catch her, wouldn’t tie, bridle, or lounge.

As time went on it became apparent to me that she had been "gotten-after" by someone. When i approached those who i felt were responsible they denied it. But, here we are today. Now she turns and moves away from you in her pen, she gets very defensive just putting the halter on, and the worst part is unbridling, or un-haltering her because she bolts, usually dragging a bridle or halter, or.... child! I have done all i can, we have had her to the vet and done blood work, acupuncture, even a horse communicator we were so desperate, but all to no avail. I have been nothing but patient, but I am at a point that I feel she is becoming dangerous, and you know as well as I do that there is no good home for a horse like this, and I know she can get better, but how? I am open to any suggestions you may have.

Thank you!

Hi Erin,

What a shame your story is. Tragic actually. Sound like the abuse happened over some time. Rehab really does take time and consistency. Maybe more time than you have or are able to put in with her. If I were dealing with her, it would be daily 'play'. I would reward her with some treats (I don't like using treats a lot, but in this case I would). No work. Her job would be to enjoy time with humans. I would engage her mind. I would forget riding her for now or putting her with anyone who was not on the same exact page as I was. I would make her life heaven on earth and be patient. I would expect a lot of 'walking on thin ice' for a while with her. I would be very careful to stay safe. Some of what she is going through may never leave her. I do not know for sure. But I do know I have rehabilitated horses that were very dangerous. They became quite easy to be with if you knew what you were doing around them. With a child it was possibile the horse would hurt (bite or kick) it. The horse may now always go for a vulnerable human. This means a child or any human who is unaware and unconscious around the horse. It may be perfectly fine and a joy for an experienced handler, but not a novice or child. I do not know this for certain. It may be that with enough time you can fully bring this horse to trust humans again.

Sounds like you know your horse stuff. Sounds like you could play with teh horse as needed. But you may never see the horse you once knew again. Same goes for an abused human. Sometimes they come around and can fully trust again. Sometimes they remain dangerous and anti-social. If you believe she can get better, than maybe she can. Go ahead and begin the process and put no time frame on its success. Get creative, play a lot at liberty. Use large arena techniques for at liberty play if you know them. If not use the round a lot for play and not to just work the horse. Do you understand? A lot depends on your attitude about what you are doing. Is it work or play? Do you have the time, energy, facility and patience? What a great blessing if you did.......Please keep me posted.....

Sincerely, Franklin

P.S. - Make certain you have the mare's hormonal balance checked. This can be done with another blood test. Also, I would plan on giving the mare a year off and no demands on her. When you feel she is ready you could being to re-start the mare. But I would wait at least 4-5 months before beginning that. If you do re-start her.....make it slow, easy, safe and fun......

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