Tips for a fearful horse with an abusive past?

Discussion in 'Horse Training' started by Gloria Armstrong, Jul 16, 2017 at 11:04 AM.

  1. Gloria Armstrong

    Gloria Armstrong Registered

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    Hi everyone! I'm new here and looking for some recommendations! I have a 5 year old mare who I rescued from a very bad situation. I've know her since she was born and had her since she was a year and a half old...i'll keep it short, but in that first year of her life, she has been through more abuse and trauma than you would believe. She was extremely fearful and defensive in a panic-fight-for-her-life way when I first got her. I spent many a long day just sitting near her to get her used to me and etc. She is now a WONDERFUL horse for me and is willing to do anything for me. She is respectful and trusting OF ME. It hasn't posed much of an issue before, as when she turned 3, I put her in professional training and she for whatever reason was okay with her trainer. She is still a little fidgety and wary of him sometimes, but she respects him and doesn't panic when he approaches her. My family has always been around since I got her so she's fine with them too, but I've since gotten married and moved far away, so she is at a different boarding stable and I am starting from scratch again. She is still 100% fine with me and with everyone she has been familiarized with, but at this new place she is extremely distrustful of the barn staff and very fearful... I had an incident where I was having a vet check on an injury she was healing from and as I was driving to the barn, the vet (a new vet) got there early and against my will (I had explicitly told her NOT TO handle or touch my horse without me being present because I know she can be very nervous and panicky with new people) decided that she was going to just go ahead and get my horse out with the barn manager there and check her over without me there... keeping in mind that I was only 15 minutes away... well that went over HORRIBLY. My poor mare was terrified and running around and away and acting like she was going to kick them and etc. They fought back and forth with her, finally cornering her and somehow managing to SEDATE her before I got there, without my knowledge or authorization. I arrived as the vet was finishing and I was horrified over what had happened, and I promptly explained that it better never happen again... I made a horsey friend up here who is experienced with abused and fearful horses and she agreed to start handling her while I'm there to get her used to other people but the issue is that it doesn't "transfer". If I'm present, she is FINE. but she has to have built up some trust with every new person before she is okay with them touching her or being around her. I've never had a horse like this before! She really is a good girl. Just very distrustful and fearful, and if anybody has a frustrated or aggressive energy she immediately gets wary and nervous, and that vet had a major attitude about everything so I imagine that only made things worse. I am thinking about possibly putting her back into training or maybe hiring professionals to work with and ride her every once in awhile? I'm at and loss because I have never had a horse like this before. She is definitely my forever horse, so im not getting rid of her, and shes an angel for me... Anybody have advice or tips on how I can help her understand that not everybody is going to hurt her?
     
  2. manesntails

    manesntails Senior Member

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    She just needs more handling by other people. That's all there is to it. Time and positive experirnces will condition her to being handled by others. Get her out and around where lots of other horses and people are. She'll chill.

    We had rough broke Mustangs just broke from out West and shipped East. We rode them with broke domesticated horses through town. Six months, you'd think they were born incaptivity.
     
  3. Gloria Armstrong

    Gloria Armstrong Registered

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    Thank you!!! This is what I was thinking- just basics of time and positive experiences at the hands of more and more people for her to calm down and realize she's not gonna be killed by someone new lol. Thank you!
     
  4. Dona Worry

    Dona Worry Senior Member

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    What seemed to help my mare was to keep a bag of horse treats near her stall and to enlist random family members and friends (and also the vet!) to stop by when I wasn't around and give her a treat, either from their hand or to just drop it in her dish if she refused to approach.
    She is still anxious around new people, but loads better than she was.
     
  5. Gloria Armstrong

    Gloria Armstrong Registered

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    Oh that's a wonderful idea! She does love her treats! I'm going to try that. Thank you for the reply!!! :)
     
  6. Compadre

    Compadre Senior Member

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    What you do with an abused horse is simple: treat it like a horse. Don't get hung up on the "why," just focus on the "what."

    If a horse was just naturally apt to only trust one person, what would you do? Make up for it by giving the horse as much time with strange people as possible. If the horse was naturally super spooky, you'd just spend extra time desensitizing and etc. Whether the behaviors are human caused or not doesnt matter, the treatment is the same.
     
  7. JStorry

    JStorry Senior Member

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    Stop thinking about her past. She's no longer abused... but she is still a horse. If you people treat her like she's gonna fall apart, she will. You and other people need to handle her like any other horse. Let her live up to that. You'll have a better horse from it.
     
  8. slc

    slc Senior Member

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    OP - what's wrong with sedating a horse?
     
  9. Dona Worry

    Dona Worry Senior Member

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    I don't know about you, but I would be BEYOND ****ED if someone went into my horse's stall and sedated her without my permission. Beyond ****ed. I would go home and get my trailer and take her home.
    My horse. My way. Unless it is a dire emergency, life or death matter, ASK THE OWNER.
     
    Nu5ha and magoo320mj like this.
  10. hayburnerheights

    hayburnerheights Senior Member

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    because she did not approve it.
     
    Alsosusieq2 likes this.

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