Second Chances

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The last few weeks I have been going over some research and helpful tips and tidbits about horses in general. But today I want to tell you a few stories.

I love my farrier because he has been so good and kind with all of my horses. It is so interesting to watch how he interacts with my horses, takes his time, is cool and calm, and the horses respond so well to his energy.

Well, today while he was out doing Merlin’s feet he told me a sweet story that I want to pass along to you.

The story starts out with an older couple purchasing a new home that happened to be a farmette. They weren’t looking for a farm, but they fell in love with the house and decided to buy it anyway.

The previous family had a pony on the property and they told the new couple that they would not be moving the pony, but they were just going to put him down since he was older.

Fortunately, the new couple had met this pony while touring the property and the wife had fallen in love with him. However, neither one of them was a horse person nor did they know how to take care of a pony. But they were willing to learn quickly and do whatever they could for this little guy.

When they moved in, they noticed that this pony’s feet didn’t look right and the previous couple had given them their farrier’s number. So they called. When the farrier came out, he did the pony’s feet but he told them that the pony had laminitis and should be put down. But she wanted a second opinion.


Again, the wife just couldn’t let this pony go. So she called out a vet that she had researched.

When the vet came out, she said that the pony did have laminitis, but everything else about this little guy was healthy. The vet diagnosed this pony as having the lesser of the 3 types of laminitis which was ‘pasture associated laminitis’.

The vet agreed with the wife and didn’t think that the pony should be put down. She thought this little guy had some good years left if taken care of properly.

The vet gave her five things to do to help this pony.

  1. Boots for his legs.
  2. A new farrier to trim him properly and bring him around naturally. She recommended the same farrier that I currently use.
  3. A medication called Prascend to help control the sugars he digests in the pasture grass and to help with any pain he may have.
  4. To keep him in a dry lot mixed with barn time from 11:00am-midnight.
  5. And to allow him to graze on the pasture grass from midnight-11:00 am because there is less sugar in the grass during this time.

My farrier fixed the little guy’s feet and after a few weeks of proper care, he is doing well, trotting around the field and enjoying life again. It has been 6 months now and he is still going strong with no issues, very happy and healthy.

It’s amazing what can happen when you don’t give up and you can give your horse a second chance. I love it!

These non-horse people really loved this pony and wanted to do whatever they could to help him. They had more hope and understanding of what was possible for this lovely pony than the previous owners and the old farrier who should have been the expert.

I’m glad that they didn’t just take the first advice they heard and that they asked for a second opinion. I’m also happy that the vet sent them to my farrier, knowing that he could and would help them.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t always turn out this way. He told me one more quick story about a young colt that he has been working with.

He has a client he works with who has a few horses that are easy to handle when he does their feet. This lady has owned horses for a long time but she recently got a 6-month-old colt.

My farrier went out to do all her horses and the colt came right up to him and allowed him to mess with his feet and do some quick work. There was no fear or any real issues, the colt just needed to learn to keep his feet up longer. His client said that she would work on it for the next visit.

He had seen this lady pick up the colt’s feet and pick them out without any issues as well. The colt was on his way to being an easy keeper.

However…

She thought it would be better to send the colt away to a trainer for two weeks to teach him to pick up his feet longer for the farrier. She thought that the trainer could do a better job than she could since she was not a so-called “trainer”.

Wrong!

It didn’t turn out well. When the colt came back from his training, the owner tried to pick up his feet and he flipped out. He wouldn’t let her near his feet now and showed a great deal of fear over her trying. So she called out my farrier.

He got out there and tried and he had the same result. This colt who had been fine a few weeks earlier was now terrified when anyone came close to his feet or tried to pick them up. He even kicked out at the farrier when he touched his foot and tried to pick it up.

He said you could see the absolute fear in this poor colt’s eyes. It was very obvious that this trainer had actually trained the colt to fear the process instead of helping him get better at standing for the farrier.

Well, the farrier checked into who his client had sent this colt to for “training” and found out how she trained. She wrapped a rope around one of his feet, pulled it over his body, and then tied it to one of his other legs to keep it up. Then she tied the colt up and make it stand like this for as long as she felt was appropriate.

He said he had been told by some of this trainer’s clients that in her process sometimes the horses would fall over, kneel down or lay down to try to get out of this position, and sometimes freak out and rear up getting stuck in the rope. This is so dangerous for the horse.

Besides all the possible scenarios that could cause a broken leg or other bodily harm, this can also cause emotional and psychological issues that lead to “learned helplessness”.

He was also told that sometimes this trainer would just leave the horses tied up on three legs and go off doing other things out of sight to teach them patience. Wow.

But in this case, instead of teaching this colt to have patience and allow the farrier to hold up his feet longer, she taught him to be utterly terrorized whenever someone tried to get close to his feet. He not only was worse, but now he lashed out in fear and had become dangerous to be around for the owner and the farrier.

So, my farrier worked with this colt with the owner and the two of them taught him to trust them again and to allow them to pick up and work on his feet. It eventually all worked out.

Second chances work both ways.

Luckily, this colt gave his owner and the farrier a second chance. He had to learn to trust them again. Now they all are doing well and happy. But it took them three times longer to fix the problem than it did for the trainer to cause the problem.

And as a side effect, this colt’s owner learned that she could teach her horse anything she wanted as long as the two of them trusted each other.

Today’s blog lessons are:

  1. Always give your horse a second chance to get healthier, do the exercise right, learn something new, or do anything else the two of you are doing together.
  2. Know that your horse will always give you a second chance if you break your connection or bond if he loses trust for some reason if you accidentally train something you didn’t expect, or anything else the two of you do together.
  3. With a lot of love and trust, the two of you can do anything together!

Until next week, have a great weekend, and Happy Horses!

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  • Gina O'Brien says:

    Please strongly advise your readers to do their due diligence and research on so-called “trainers” prior to ever sending their horses to any of them. So many of these so-called “trainers” are nothing but garbage and can/will ruin any animal for years to come, possibly ending their lives altogether, and should be charged with animal cruelty. I’ve seen it first-hand again and again and have rescued and rehabbed my fair share. Nothing short of a disgusting tragedy. Thank you for all you do for the horses you teach and care for.

    • What a great idea for a future blog Gina. I will take you up on this. Thank you for the reminder. 🙂

  • Another great story and helpful hints. I too have seen horses that were not used to having their hoofs raised up for long times but farriers that were so easygoing that they would take their time and at times come back to work on the horse’s feet. I’m glad that in these stories the farrier was able to help the horses.

    I am always careful around my horse’s feet, checking them for any problems due to rugged terrain, used hoof flex to aid in dry conditions, as well as made sure water was always around the water trough when it was dry out.

    Thank you again for all your caring guidance and I will be looking forward to next week’s helpful hints. 🙂

    • I’m so blessed to have such a gentle, kind, and patient farrier. He has been doing this for many years and I love to hear his stories. 🙂 He has worked on all my horses since I moved to Maryland. But I have had my share of bad farriers when my regular farrier wasn’t available.

      Some past farriers were inexperienced with elderly or young horses, one had no patience or understanding for the horse they were working on and actually hit my horse for moving a little, and another was so self-absorbed that they didn’t pay attention to what they were doing and they cut my horse because they were talking to another person.

      If you find a good one, do everything you can to keep him/her. They can make such a big difference in your horse’s health and their physical ability to be ridden.

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