How to make a "Bad" Horse
Charm arrived at my farm some time ago with a reputation that proceeded him and kind loving owners that were unsure if they had a “problem” horse. Charm is an Off the Track thoroughbred that was rescued at deaths door from the kill pen for one dollar. His people told me that their vet said he would likely not make it through the month when they rescued him, and his owners response was “well then I’ll make it the best month of his life” fast forward to now, Charm is a very healthy cheeky TB who though his track injuries made him unsuitable for riding, has become an exemplary Liberty horse.
Let me back up a bit on how he became a “Bad” horse. When I met his people, they were quite distressed at having to leave their previous boarding arrangement due to Charm being “Bad” and “Dangerous”. They told me that in addition to being an orphan, Charm had a history of abuse at the track and at the hands of various handlers, especially men. He had been starved and then tossed away. Once they rescued him and astoundingly brought him back from death’s door, he became what every TB should be, A spunky, spirited boy who was a bit of a handful at times. However, instead of recognizing this as his character and signs of good health returning, he was branded difficult and naughty. It was explained to me that at the previous farms he was at, a steady downward spiral occurred that started with, his people being restricted as to how much interaction they could have with him. He was deemed him too much “horse” for his people. When they asked for help and guidance, they were told because he was un-rideable, he wasn’t worth anything and why didn’t they give him away and get a safer horse. But they loved him dearly and stood by him.
As Charm got less interaction, exercise and handling, he became more difficult to handle. He began to get harder to take out to his paddock, so farm workers eventually stopped putting him out much at all. He was fed high performance sugary feeds that gave him more energy and no way to exercise and be a horse. Then he became more “Crazy” “Dangerous” and “Bad”. Anyone who has an ounce of sense could see this problem coming from a mile away.
When Charm arrived at my farm, I promptly escorted him to a paddock as quickly as possible. He was of course difficult to lead and anxious. I kept myself safe and let him be out in a paddock for the first time in sometime. The next seven days, Charm started to decompress his energy and frustration. I told him I know TB’s pretty well and his needs were understood now. He became easier to handle within a week. We still had a ways to go on some things but I could see this was not a “Bad” “Crazy” Horse.
Charm’s people came to me and asked for help working with him and showed me that though they didn’t know anything about Liberty training, they had been doing their own version with him when they had worked with him previously. What I didn’t mention is that Charm’s person is Autistic and she uses Charm as her therapy horse. It was explained to me that before the girl had got Charm, she was shut down and not speaking much to anyone. Once she started working with him, she came out and started to engage with people and speak. She had a clear bond with him and he with her. With some guidance and lessons they started excelling together with their Liberty work and their relationship got better and they felt safer together again. I showed them how to be safe with his sometimes fresh manners in a natural way and I gave them the tools they were so desperate for. I also noted that his person was a Natural with horses. They started to do patterns and obstacles. They also started working on all the basic things that Charm had trauma around like having his feet done and being tied for grooming. Everything they said or were told they could never do, they were now doing. Charm is now a well adjusted horse who is a work in progress but it is cases like these that I find satisfying but also somewhat disheartening if they hadn’t found their way to Ohana Farm. Charm’s people kept saying that I fixed their horse and I was a miracle worker but all I did is help him come into balance again, let him be a horse, respect that he is a TB and what their character is, and allow him to be who he really is inside. Then I gave his people the tools they needed to flourish with their horse. Charm was never a “Bad crazy” Horse. Humans made him behave that way and then blamed him when he started to scream for help. Then they turned on him and abused him. This is a case I see far too often unfortunately, but I am pleased to have been able to facilitate Charm and his people staying together and enjoying and healing each other here at the farm. Just another happy ending from Ohana farm 🙂