Tips for a fearful horse with an abusive past?

Discussion in 'Horse Training' started by Gloria Armstrong, Jul 16, 2017.

  1. Alsosusieq2

    Alsosusieq2 Senior Member

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2016
    Messages:
    10,482
    Likes Received:
    7,659
    Yep. She'll come around.
     
    meljean likes this.
  2. Alsosusieq2

    Alsosusieq2 Senior Member

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2016
    Messages:
    10,482
    Likes Received:
    7,659
    Nothing. She'd stated do not handle my horse and wait for me as she was only a few minutes away and they disregarded her.
     
  3. slc

    slc Senior Member

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2004
    Messages:
    19,297
    Likes Received:
    11,709
    Gloria Armstrong, Hi everyone!

    I already know exactly what the truth will get me...but here goes. Why? Because I care about the horse.

    I have a horse that was abused far, far worse than yours. And he gets handled by vets, farriers and everyone else today. And he's expected to act like a gentleman.

    And the whole time I 'advocated' for him, made excuses for him and tried to 'protect' him, all he did was get worse and worse and worse. When I started insisting on decent behavior and letting a lot of people handle him, that's when all the nonsense stopped.

    You think you're helping your horse by protecting and coddling her, but you're not. You're into year 4, and the horse is just getting worse. You've got to face facts before you ruin the horse: your way (which is largely a result of your preconceived ideas) is not working.

    If you want your horse to behave for other people YOU need to be more demanding of her and work with her more and expect more. YOU need to insist that she does as she's told, promptly, and not make excuses for her.


    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.

    The problem I'm having is your description isn't specific enough. She was abused, she reacts defensively and fearfully - what is she doing, actually?

    What actually was done to her and how long was she in the abusive situation? Was she yanked around? Beaten? Did you witness what happened or just hear about it from someone else? Did this go on for six months? How long has it been since the abusive situation - 3 1/2 years? Is that right?

    Because if she was actually abused for six months, 3 1/2 years ago, something is very wrong with this picture. In other words, she should not be having such severe problems this much after the events. Depending on what was done, of course most horses would be fine by now. But that's why I'd prefer if you were more specific.

    But quite frankly from your description it sounds like there's something very wrong with this situation. I can't tell for sure because you weren't specific enough, but the whole thing is very concerning.


    She was extremely fearful and defensive in a panic-fight-for-her-life way when I first got her.

    What specifically did she do, in response, to say, a farrier trying to trim her feet, or a vet give her medication, or someone else trying to lead her, at that time? And how, if any, have those behaviors changed since then?

    I spent many a long day just sitting near her to get her used to me and etc.

    My experience has been that winning the trust of the abused horse is only the tiniest tip of the iceberg and only the start. By definition, long-term abused horses have been abused rather than trained, and now they need to be trained. And in fact, once they're over their fear, they often react as if they're 'angry with the world' and can be nasty - just as nasty as they were treated. They very often need a firm hand at some point.

    But all of that should be well over by now. It's been 3 1/2 years since she was abused. Again, something doesn't sound right here.


    She is now a WONDERFUL horse for me and is willing to do anything for me. She is respectful and trusting OF ME.

    Unfortunately, that isn't good enough. A trained horse can be handled daily by any average Joe - the day will come when there's a fire or a flood or some other disaster and the horse will need to be eminently handle-able by anyone. There are exceptions, obviously. High performance horses working in elite sports are often too much of a handful for the average Joe, but in general, yes, the trained horse can be handled by any average Joe.

    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.

    The trouble is that no one starts from scratch with a horse. Its past training and its temperament and character, as well as its physical need for activity and its nature (sensitive, insensitive) are always ever-present in every thing one does with the horse. Its past training can be changed, of course. But there seems to be a snag with it happening in this horse's case. The puzzle is why.

    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...

    What exactly does she do? That's the trouble. You don't say what she does. Could you, please? Distrustful, fearful, these are emotions - what does the horse do. Let's say Joe Average takes her out of her stall to take her to a turnout pasture. What happens next? Does she refuse to come out of the stall? Run around him in circles with her head craned up? Jump around on the way down the drive to the pasture?

    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)

    The vet can't predict exactly when she's going to arrive, veterinary medicine being what it is. If you're not there, she has to start without you. End of discussion. If you want to be there, arrive before the vet. Bottom line: She can't tell you exactly when she'll get there, but when she gets there, she has to start.

    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.

    Hate to say it but your mare doesn't sound abused. She sounds like a spoiled brat. And you sound like her enabler. This happens often with less experienced people who adopt a horse they feel was 'abused'. You've fallen into this pattern and you need to get out of it. You're risking the horse's future and even its life, to satisfy your own ego. You've got to stop.

    They fought back and forth with her, finally cornering her and somehow managing to SEDATE her

    I think I understand the problem. The mare hasn't gotten any better than this because of the way you demand people treat her! You DO need to NOT be getting involved when others handle her. She needs to learn how to behave. And she won't do it if you're in there making everyone treat her like a special snowflake.

    Look. You're making excuses for a horse with a lot of bad dangerous habits.

    And the vet HAS to sedate her, at this point, to avoid being injured. You have no right to expect a vet to handle a difficult animal that is running away, kicking and acting in general like a jerk, and not sedate her. That's not a choice you get to make! You want vet care for your horse? Then either you get her trained to act like a lady - through punishing her so she knows that being a brat is not allowed.

    And if she's going to be a jerk the vet has got to get the job done NOW and that horse gets a sedative. You have NO RIGHT to demand that someone else get injured doing something to care for your horse!


    before I got there, without my knowledge or authorization.

    Oh for heaven's sake. Look. You need to rewire your attitude and your expectations. For one thing, sedatives are very commonly given. There's no sense in having a horse go through a painful process WITHOUT a sedative. The horses are far less stressed and the medication wears off very quickly. I would NEVER put a horse through anything even remotely uncomfortable without a sedative.

    And if your mare is going to be running around and kicking, yeah, she's going to get a sedative even for unpainful things. You have no right to expect otherwise.


    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...

    Oh for the love of heaven. You have really got to get a grip on yourself. You're ruining this horse, and it isn't fair to the animal. What happens if you get hit by a bus tomorrow? That horse will wind up in a dog food can. I mean it. Seriously. You can't do this to the animal, she doesn't deserve it.

    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.

    Then stay away from her.

    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.

    Yeah...no. That isn't how it works. If after 3 1/2 years of training no one but you can touch her, and she is not safe for anyone else to handle, it needs to be dealt with directly or euthanasia is needed. It's a dangerous, risky situation and it needs to be resolved. What in the name of heaven happens if some little kid wanders into her stall or pasture, and tries to feed her a carrot? This cannot be allowed to go on.

    I've never had a horse like this before!

    She really is a good girl.

    No, she isn't.

    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'd wager the vet developed the 'attitude' after your threats that it 'better not happen again' and insisting that you must 'authorize' any sedation, AND that they must wait for Queen Elizabeth to arrive before they start!!!

    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?

    Stop handling the horse entirely. Send the animal to a trusted, ethical professional for six months. And then when you get the horse back, do what the pro tells you to do, and stop treating the horse like a special snowflake.
     
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2017
  4. slc

    slc Senior Member

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2004
    Messages:
    19,297
    Likes Received:
    11,709
    No one can afford to sit around and wait for her to arrive. That's ridiculous to expect. Furthermore it's very bad for the horse to have the OP 'advocating' for her.
     
    meljean likes this.
  5. Alsosusieq2

    Alsosusieq2 Senior Member

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2016
    Messages:
    10,482
    Likes Received:
    7,659
    I'm sorry, but if I were on my way and roughly fifteen minutes out with a difficult situation I'd be pist. No means no. Leave if you can't hold on for a few minutes.
     
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2017
  6. manesntails

    manesntails Senior Member

    Joined:
    May 21, 2010
    Messages:
    32,950
    Likes Received:
    64,229
    Oh for crying out loud, slc.

    The OP was perfectly clear. All the horse needs is more handling. Why it's fearful is neither here nor there.

    You're making a dang novel out of afootnote, asssssss usual.
     
    AmyK, Varisha, walktrot and 6 others like this.
  7. RelaxMax

    RelaxMax Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2014
    Messages:
    1,876
    Likes Received:
    4,357
    I disagree. OP specifically stated to not touch her animal until she was there. That is a reasonable expectation and if they didn't want to wait 15 mins, they could've rescheduled. She has ever right to be upset -- I'd be livid beyond sight in this scenario.
     
    ginster, Larkspade and Alsosusieq2 like this.
  8. RelaxMax

    RelaxMax Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2014
    Messages:
    1,876
    Likes Received:
    4,357
    And as usual, not one anybody wants to read
     
  9. palogal

    palogal Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2008
    Messages:
    5,012
    Likes Received:
    1,874
    To be honest, you should have been there when the vet arrived if it was that important. The vet has a schedule and you need to respect his/her time. I would have been annoyed if my horse would have been sedated without my permission, but if I was not there and needed to be, it would be my fault. The vet had a job to do and did it.

    Now, your question. Handle her like a horse. Expect her to learn every time and become less neurotic. It's a process but at the same time you have to set an expectation for her. No hose wants to be a chicken but if you keep accommodating her, she will be.
     
    Varisha, meljean, manesntails and 2 others like this.
  10. Compadre

    Compadre Senior Member

    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2012
    Messages:
    2,130
    Likes Received:
    3,738
    Late or not, I would be highly irate if a veterinarian new to my horses gave one a sedative without calling me first. I would expect the vet to either call me and explain s/he could not wait, or leace and make me reschedule. Either would be acceptable.

    I don't care what you have to say about the horse's behavior slc, but that is not really acceptable. Maybe from my longtime vet that knows me and knows my horses, but then again I know my vet absolutely would have called me.
     

Share This Page