JW's Self Esteem Issues - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 4 Old 01-10-2010, 11:52 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: Illinois, USA
Posts: 35
• Horses: 2
Unhappy JW's Self Esteem Issues

At the therapy program I work for (Sunrise Center North, hence the username ;] ) we have a horse named JW. J is a gorgeous 20 year old 16 hand chestnut thoroughbred with serious self esteem issues. He loves people. He'll do whatever you ask of him, but he's got issues with other horses. JW spent 12 years of his life as a Pony Horse at various thoroughbred racetracks (Pony Horses are the horses which lead the thoroughbreds to the starting gate, for those of you wondering). Being a pony horse puts an incredible amount of stress on a horse- they are always in high stress situations with high strung horses who bite, step on, bump into, jump on, try to run away from, and sometimes break free from them and they are NEVER allowed to fight back or so much as reprimand the other horse. (God forbid the racehorses get some socialization and learn some manners!) Pony horses spend a majority of their time alone. Most racetracks where they are stabled have no paddocks available for them- they get their exercise on the track leading the horses (whom they are not allowed to socialize with).

Now that JW is with the therapy program and has the time and space to run free and socialize with other horses and be playful, he just cant seem to. His mentality of "The other horse is more important. Cant touch the other horse" from the track has carried over to his life here. His paddock mates ignore him for the most part and rarely give him a chance to eat at the hay feeder with them. Some of the younger horses have tried to play with him, but he just looks bewildered at their attempts. He gets bullied and doesnt fight back, he and his paddock mates never engage in mutual grooming, and he, for the most part, always stand alone.
When I bring some of the therapy horses to the arena to play, everyone love to play tag, or engage in free lunging, or hide and go seek behind the barrels, or Follow The Human, etc. JW however, doesnt seem to know how to play. He just looks confused. When I turn him out in the arena with the other therapy horses, its like he's just another barrel in the arena. They'll run around him, hide behind him, but to them, its like he's not even there.
When you groom and saddle him up, he just comes to life because he loves interacting with people and really knows what he's doing. He understands whats expected of him under saddle. He doesnt understand what we're talking about when we ask him to be a horse, not a machine.

What can I do to help JW? How can I help him realize its okay to let go and be free here? I feel like he needs a self empowerment clinic or something!


The Adventures of a One-Eyed TB and an Ambitious Redhead
SunriseNorth is offline  
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post #2 of 4 Old 01-10-2010, 02:20 PM
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: MN
Posts: 719
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It sounds like trying to find one horse for him to be friends with is what i would try, try him with different horse individually and see if you can find one that can click with him. Or if it is available to you i would try to get a pony or something to just be his buddy, once he makes one friend i would think that you could slowly introduce others into his herd (with his one firend) once it is established.
ilovestitch is offline  
post #3 of 4 Old 01-10-2010, 09:21 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: Illinois, USA
Posts: 35
• Horses: 2
Unfortunately, the property we're at turns the horses out in large groups on large spaces and, due to paddock roation, theres no space to have JW turned out with just one other horse for an extended period of time. The arenas are constanly in use, so that wouldnt work as a permamnent solution either. Even if we did find somewhere to keep JW and his friend together permamntly...the thing that really gets me is that we've spent the last 6 months finding someone JW can "click" with. We've gone through just about everyone on the property (well, everyone we have permission to work with. some owners dont want their horses turned out with the therapy horses) turning them out together in the arena for a day together and the other horses will see jw, try to interact with him and stop trying once they realize he wont "play" or ignore him completely and look longingly at his other herdmates in the other paddock.

Is there anything that can get him out of this funk? What about TTouches? Wouldnt a non-habitual movement like that sort of "wake him up" and help him realize his full horse potential? Anyone have any experience with TTouches?

The Adventures of a One-Eyed TB and an Ambitious Redhead
SunriseNorth is offline  
post #4 of 4 Old 01-10-2010, 09:36 PM
Join Date: May 2009
Location: CO
Posts: 5,061
• Horses: 5
A young horse (Under a year) can really help these kind of horses come out of their shells, because the younger horse isn't going to give up trying to engage the other horse in play, grooming, etc, and he's not generally going to do anything spiteful. I've turned a few really inconfident horses like him around, just by putting him in a paddock with a baby...just the baby, because they will 'need to need' each other, in order for it to work. One horse that I was going to buy one year was constantly bullied, kicked, picked on, and ignored...when I was starting to work with him, I penned him with my QH yearling I had at the time...After Dusty got used to the fact that Shadow wasn't there to hurt him, they became best buddies, and when it was time to turn Dusty back over to his owners, he became TOP dog in the paddock!!

Oh and it has to take place over the course of more than one or two days...it can take up to 30 days, or more, depending on the severity of his 'horsey depression', to start shedding.

"The ideal horseman has the courage of a lion, the patience of a saint, and the hands of a woman..."
mom2pride is offline  

pony horses , ractrack , self esteem , therapy

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