Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: Missoula, Montana - Transplanted from Anchorage Alaska
New Here - Adopted Abused Horse - Need Suggestions
Hi, I just joined this forum and am excited to meet everyone. First, let me apologize if this ends up being a long post, but I want to give as much info as possible so you get a good idea of what I'm up against. We adopted "Argy" about a month ago. He was living next door with other horses and was close to going to the slaughter house. We just moved to Missoula in November. Here are some things about Argy that we know:
Argy is 9 y/o. I'm not sure of his breed. He lived at a dude ranch for a number of years and am told he was a good working horse. I am told he was badly abused for a number of years. He has a scar on his face where a halter was left on for so long that it rubbed into his skin and left a scar. He was hobbled and beaten with a hose. His nose was twitched while they beat him with various weapons to include boards, hoses, etc. He was put in a small horse trailer and left there for several weeks with no food/water while some guy read a book to him every day for weeks on end (trying to fix him?). He was finally rescued by some rescue organization and sent to a rehab center where he was worked with for a year by a trained professional. She saw potential in Argy and never gave up on him. Eventually his trainer got him ready for adoption and he ended up next door to us with our neighbors, who had him for about another year while he was waiting to be adopted. The neighbors already have other horses, so they were running out of patience and tired of Argy being on their food bill. This is the point when we moved in next door and found out all of this information.
We looked at Argy and saw a sweet horse who was wanting to interact with us, but was terrified to approach. He would come as close as his nerves would allow and then stretch his neck out as far as it would go to try to get a sniff of us. He wanted to be near people, but could only stand there and shake and twitch. Our new house was completely set up for horses, so we took him in. We waited a few more days for his trainer to come over so she could walk Argy over to his new barn, stall, and pasture. We wanted his move to be with someone he knew and trusted. It went well. He ran all around for a few days, snorting, and neighing to his friends next door. His trainer said it would be good for him to only have us humans to bond with instead of other horses for awhile. He was used to pack cubes as treats, so I went and bought a bag :)
I asked Argy's trainer if she would be willing to keep coming over to help me work with him and show me how to interact with him so he will keep progressing and she has agreed to do that. She has been here 3 times now since he joined our family (1 month ago), but now has to leave for a month or two for a trip to South Africa. Here is a list of things Argy will alow:
He will eat pack cubes from my hand.
I can now pet his forehead (as of 2 days ago).
He let me brush his left side, ONLY, yesterday while he ate breakfast.
He will follow me around the pasture every time I go out there.
I have gotten a halter on/off him a few times, but now he yanks his head back and bolts if I try.
He KNOWS round pen exercises very well and will run/trot/canter/walk, and change directions on cue.
He is very respectful and shows no signs of aggression or being mean. He only shows major fear.
He puts his head in his halter on cue for his trainer, but not me. (I assume this will take time?)
I have spent long hours in the barn with him, just talking to him. I do not put him in a stall because I don't want him to feel trapped in any way and he always has the option to leave. Sometimes he bolts, but then comes right back. He also jumps quite a bit, but doesn't leave. Now I feel like we are at a point where neither of us is progressing. I have reached his tolerance threshold and we are at a standstill. I don't want to do ANYTHING that may make him regress in therapy, but I also want him to keep getting better and trust me. I had horses as a child, but never one that had any problems and never any that were abused. Will he get past this fear? How can I make it easier for him? What is reasonable to expect? Is he going to figure out he can "out-patience" me?
Anyway, again sorry for the long post. I really want Argy to have a good life and I do believe in this horse. I guess I just need suggestions on how to advance in his rehab. Thanks for listening :)
Darla & Argy