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Melony 09-17-2008 01:45 PM

Something WONDERFUL to report!! - And some new questions?
As most of you know, my horse is named Epona. I've made a HUGE breakthrough, so if you'd like you can listen up x3

(for those who already know or don't care much, you can skip this part)
As a quick summary for those who don't know about me and my horse, let me explain a little:
My horse, Epona, was once "wild"(if you could call it that) She lived on like three hundred acres in Nevada when she was born and until she was about a year old, give or take, she lived with a herd; I believe her mother was the dominant female ^^. But after a while, there were too many - they were beginning to run out of food, because too many were eating up all of the food - so they took several of the foals and auctioned them off. This is a period where a chunk in her past is unknown to me - I'm not sure where she went when auctioned, but I'm pretty sure she was manhandled and halter broken incorrectly during this time period. I think it's possible they even attempted to ride her or put a saddle on her. But of course, I can't be sure. After this, she went to her owner before me - a woman named Stacy who didn't feed her because she couldn't afford it. She was extremely malnourished when we recieved her, so now she has an eating problem. Since she has only ever been mistreated, she hated human contact and would barely even let people near her. She's STILL deathly afraid of men.
Since the woman before her would leave her halter and a lead rope on at ALL times, I immediately set to work on getting her to trust me enough so I could get the lead rope off - then the halter. I still haven't succeeded with the halter. She won't let me near it...

So now that that's been cleared up, let me continue and explain what's been happening the last month or so.

In the very beginning, I worked VERY hard. I got her to the point where she trusted me enough to where she could eat with me standing right next to her and have ABSOLUTELY no problems with it at all. I could also just barely touch her nose, and I could touch her forehead a little too. However, she would pull away whenever I would, but that's alright. She simply still wasn't ready yet... I understand.

But then, however, I started slacking a lot. I feel really bad because of it. My mom started feeding her, then she was focusing on feeding her, cleaning her stall, and cleaning her pasture. She was also in charge of the trying-to-earn-her-trust thing.

One day, my mom went down there and she had a large gash above her eye!!! It was raw she said, and absolutely HORRIBLE. When I finally got to see it, it had healed up - it's like a white scar now. It's above her left eye (HER left), and we're still not ENTIRELY positive how she got it. But I examined the fence posts? ... And I think I see where she did it on one of the posts. I think she did it while she was trying to scratch her face either with her hooves(She does that), or with the fence post. Or she MAY have been messing around or just may hafe gashed her eye on the post on accident. (When we drive down there to get her her food, she gets extremely excited and starts jumping up and down and she follows the car along the gate! It's entirely possible she did it while she was doing this, I guess. But she's kind of hard-pressed... and it was her LEFT eye, which is AWAY from the gate. *shrugs*)

That day, my mom finally was able to SCRATCH her in between her eyes! For a long period of time, too! She didn't pull away! ^^

Finally, we bought her some healthy grain. Vitamin-filled, and apparentely VERY tasty. She absolutely LOVES it, more than anything. When we give it to her, she gets a little obnoxious and kinda mean, but she doesn't nip or kick or anything. She just gets a little pushy because she wants it so much. It's kind of like a horse drug <_<U

Then, until yesterday, we ran out, and she had to go without for three days. But, the day before yesterday...

I simply fed her like I usually do. Then I went around and inside her stable to try and scratch her head, because she likes it a little bit.

But... I decided to try and scratch her neck. I was very slow, very careful, very gentle. I scratched a meatier part of her neck, right behind her jaw and underneath her mane(spelling?), and she seemed to like it. I was so excited. I started trembling, she was letting me scratch her! ... So I decided to go for it... Hand trembling, I moved down her neck. To her shoulder. She just kept eating. Her withers. Her backbone. Her sides.. her hips! I scratched her all over where I could reach (besides her legs and underneath her neck) and..!! She had no problem! She was a bit shifty at first, but then she was FINE with it. So I just kept scratching her (I was shaking so horribly, I was so ecstatic, I had finally made a breakthrough!) And the BEST part is, she kept EATING the whole time! Her head was DOWN on the GROUND buried in the food!! Meaning she trusted me ENTIRELY! She would have NEVER had her head down that low if she didn't trust me! And she didn't have her ears pinned back at all. She only had them like that when she was eating, but they weren't PINNED back, they were just pulled back! When she'd stand, she'd have her ears straight forward! It was so exciting, so AMAZING!! I was so happy!!

>w< The next morning, I decided to go back and feed her again myself instead of going with my mom. I just by fluke went down that night too... mom had still been doing it up until then. So I went down, gave her her food... Then I tried to go straight to her side and scratch her again. xD; biiiig no-no. She almost kicked me like five times... No, what I needed to do first was scratch that spot on her neck. To show her I'm going to just scratch her. And it worked just like before, and I kept at it for probably an hour.

(**this is kinda important too Dx you don't HAVE to read, but..**)
However, this time, I kept thinking I was messing up - she'd turn her head towards me every now and then. I honestly thought she was doing it to warn me, that she didn't like where I was scratching her (which is odd, because I hear that they love to be scratched EVERYWHERE!), and she was gonna nip at me if i didn't stop.

I don't know WHY I thought this. I KNOW better than that! I guess I just assumed she was different than regular horses - because of how she had to go through life... She doesn't act like a normal yearling, she isn't very playful - she wasn't very playful with that male foal back at her old home. But I think it's only because she's never had a real chance to play.. I don't know for sure.

But when I came home, I spoke with one of my online friends about her, about how I can scratch her now. And she talked to me back, I mentioned the thing where she turned to me, and then she made me REALIZE what she was REALLY doing when she turned towards me!

Trying to scratch me back! You all would have probably realized this right away, but for WHATEVER reason, it didn't come to mind! Even though I KNEW they did that! That when scratched by another horse, they scratch back! So instead of pulling back like I had been doing, I now hold my arm out or let her nibble at my side. She only does it with her lips, and when she does get my skin with her teeth, she is VERY gentle. She doesn't bite hard at all, even if she's still chewing her food while she tries to scratch me back ^^ She's so great~ (However, I do have a question pertaining that - Should I LET her do that to me?? or should I not?)

So now, she gets even more excited when I come down to feed her. And when I leave, she walks to the gate and stares after me as I go to leave, which makes me feel bad xD; but I gotta gooo.

The main thing I've realized now though is that, being with her makes me EXTREMELY happy. When I'm upset, I envision being next to her and stroking her and scratching her, and her turning to me to try and scratch me back. She loves being scratched under her neck, and the best place is under her mane where it's really itchy.. and her neck, she seems to love her neck scratched most. And around her ears.

But now, my NEXT most IMPORTANT goal is to TAKE OFF HER HALTER. I need to know how to take that **** thing off without tightening it to unbuckle it!! It's like a belt - it's got that metal part through the hole, which you can't pull out unless you tighten it!! It's been on her for SO long that.. ><UU it's TOO SMALL FOR HER!!!! SHE'S GROWN TOO MUCH INTO IT, and she's STILL GROWING!! The most I can do I guess is get a vet to take a look at it? I may even have to take it off... it IS too small for her, after all. It's on the biggest setting, and it's too tight to pull off... *sigh* I don't know. I'll talk to my parents about it.

Anyway, so far, any information about what I should do NEXT would be greatly appreciated. I gotta go feed her now! ^^ Ja ne(see ya)!@@

free_sprtd 09-17-2008 03:16 PM

well congrats on your bonding break through!!! i know exactly how you's wonderful :)

the next thing about the scratching you back situation....personally, I would not let them just because it possibly could lead to a bad habit. It sounds like it's comforting her though. Hopefully someone can answer that better than I can.

Next thing about the halter...If it's too small and pulls on her face when you try to take it off, does it need to be cut off???? if not, then i would start working on moving from the meaty part of her neck to around the throat latch and slowly as far as she'll let you go, just keep touching her. once she trusts you to touch her face, rub your hand around her face and over the halter so she can feel the pressure of you rubbing it. once she is ok with that, start handling the buckle, you don't necessarily need to take it off at first, just handle it so she can see what it feels like. baby steps is key. once she is ok with that, then maybe give it a little tug here and there, and if she becomes ok with that, unhook it, ect. just be careful that if you do it with her head down (not recommended) that she doesnt throw her head up and knock you in the face. you can work on halter exposure once it's off, but if she's growing into it, then that's no good, it needs to come off.

oh and this doesnt really have to do with anything that you posted, but while trying to gain trust, if you give treats, don't hand feed...bad bad no no. :)

good luck! sorry if I didn't help much.

NorthernMama 09-17-2008 03:21 PM

WOW! Congratulations and Kudos to you for being so patient :!:

I would not let her groom you. I know exactly what you are saying about how she's doing it, but it could lead to problems and the last thing you need to have happen is that she gets carried away and hurts you. You would freak, she would freak and you'd lose weeks of your progress. Anything that require discipline right now could be very detrimental. Also, you don't want her to see you as part of her herd (her equal). She needs to understand that you are different, so that later you can teach the respect and space ground rules.

As for the halter -- hmm... I once had a horse whose halter was ingrown and the horse had to be sedated to have it cut off. You do need to try to look after this now since it is already too small. Will she let you touch her halter? Move it around a bit? Maybe she will let you do that in which case I think you will have luck in unbuckling it. I would first try working with the halter, around the halter, etc. If you can get it off without a vet, it'll be better in the long term. After all, how is the vet gonna do it? He's going to sedate her with a NEEDLE :shock: and she'll have to be RESTRAINED :shock: for that!

Let us know how it goes.

Dumas'_Grrrl 09-17-2008 03:57 PM

I had a hard time getting the halter off of Dumas when we got him home. I ended up doing it in stages. It took me 2 days. The 1st day I worked on rubbing up his neck and scratching his mane...I slipped my hand over the buckle a couple times and went back to rubbing where he was comfortable with me touching him. I would then work my way back up the mane. I ended up getting the flap out of the buckle and he freaked a little. I went to rubbing his shoulder again and stopped for the day on a good note.

Day 2 I procedded to rub him again and was able to grab the halter flap and tug it loose of the little pole thingy on the buckle. Dumas freaked out again and the halter fell off. I was able to sit and let him come back to me. I rubbed him and he seemed happy it was off.

If the halter is too small you may have issues getting it off like I did.
Can you get a lead rope on the halter and distract the horse while you cut it off?

OK... I re-read what you posted and I suggest a steady hand...(Maybe mom should do this.) Scratch her itchy mane and neck and the forelock...then slide the knife under the halter and cut it. My horses don't like scissors...Not sure why but they get a little iffy. If she will hold still for scratches, work slowly getting both arms over the horse's head so she will be used to you standing like that. Maybe even you rubbing while mom tries to cut it off. Sharp medical scissors may work too (they are the ones with blunt edges for cutting bandages off). Good Luck!!!

NorthernMama 09-17-2008 04:06 PM

Unless absolutely necessary, I would avoid using a knife. If she shies, moves or you slip, you could accidentally cut her. I dunno, maybe will round point scissors you could weaken some of the threads a bit at a time, but I give undoing the buckle a really good effort first.

Dumas'_Grrrl 09-17-2008 05:12 PM

NM...I just came back to nix the knife idea too...

I would try the scissors after exausting all avenues with the buckle.

Melony 09-17-2008 06:52 PM

Thanks guys!! You really help ^^ I thought of a lot more questions I need to ask, each paragraph is a different question ^^U ssaaankies for answers~!

Yeah, I was thinking I may have to cut it too. I'm gonna show her a pair of scissors the next time I go down there.

Hey, I have a REALLY hard time keeping her brush clean of dirt and hay and other things.. when I get something in there, it doesn't come out - it'd take me an hour to clean it, even WITH water. How exactly should I go about cleaning it? Right now the only kind of brush I have is the kind for the body.

Also!! HOW DO YOU GIVE A HORSE A BATH?! I have ALWAYS wondered how to do this XD And I haven't REALLY actively started thinking about it since we got her -- and then didn't think about it again until I started being able to touch her. Do I just take a rag and a bucket and wipe her down? soap for her body? Shampoo and possibly conditioner for her mane and tail - but not PEOPLE shampoo and conditioner of course...

Can a normal brush work as a brush for her mane and tail? I mean, we have SO many brushes, do I REALLY need to waste extra money just to buy a special horse brush? I mean, I can buy one later, but FOR NOW can I at least use a regular brush until I can afford a horse one? She needs her mane brushed pretty bad Dx Her body needs to be brushed too..

Okay, THIS is a REALLY big one. She JUST did this to me when I went down there not too long ago and I am SO confused. I've NEVER heard of a horse doing this, so that's why I don't understand.. Dx... So, I went down there right? A-and... I leant down near her to pick up some of her food. She doesn't seem to have a problem with it, and I do it VERY slowly... I haven't yet heard that doing this is a horrible thing, so when I need to pick up something near I pretty much do it.... well... she apparently moved down and started sniffing my hair, and I think she nibbled (with her lips, not her teeth. She never uses her teeth) at my hair... AND THEN ALL OF A SUDDEN SHE SPIT ALL OF HER CHEWED FOOD ALL OVER MY HEAD!! THE HECK, WHERE DID THAT COME FROM!? T_T;; I've never heard of a horse doing that before! What was up?? Did she like, get some of my hair into her mouth so she spit it out?? so confuuuused xD;; it was bad. I had to take a shower soon as I got home... XD Which is why I'm responding like an hour after I got home. So yeah, if someone can offer explanation, that'd be nice. I also need to know if it's a bad thing if she does this, that way I can avoid it next time.. XD; I'll stop leaning down next to her, if that has anything to do with it.

free_sprtd 09-17-2008 07:34 PM

sounds like you have a lot going on....what i would do, is start out super slow and one step at a time. get past the touching, ect. then think about brushing her. Then once she trusts you some more possibly start thinking about a bath. You don't want to overload her with too much stuff at once (even if its through out the week.)

as for your brush. I usually soak mine, or my thick bristle brush I use my shedding blade and comb it out. Get a grooming bucket/carrier thing and it should help keep your brushes in good shape. And yes, you can use people brushes on horses...most people do that as well.

note: a lot of people use certain people shampoo for horses A LOT. I was actually thinking about taking down my aussie conditioner that makes my hair greasy and using it on him. I bring him outside and use the hose, it's a lot easier especially cuz the wash rack can be very scary. the first step in a bath is .........learn not to be scared of water! once you get past that, it's just like giving your dog a bath unless, the horse is one to dance around, then there's a technique of going in a circle that works good. preferably not COLD COLD water when they're not used to being around water. i would start there after she trusts you, then move on to shampoo, ect (because the suds can be scary too). Whenever trying something new out NEVER TIE YOUR HORSE. always have someone hold the lead for you if you can't. brushing the mane and tale can be a nervous thing for a horse that doesnt like to be touched, so continue to love on her until she lets you play with her hair with your fingers, then maybe take a brush to it. its best not to brush the mane and tale when its super knotty and tangled and dry, try and seperate it with your fingers.

and i don't know why she dropped her food on your head unless she had just taken a drink of water, then maybe that's why. sorry!

free_sprtd 09-17-2008 07:37 PM

i do recommend using a horsey shampoo though just in case to make sure she doesn't have a skin allergy to the stuff in human shampoos.

i know how you feel....i was so anxious when I got thunder, i wanted to try out everything at once on him! and i half expected him to know what i asked of him. Just lots and lots and lots and lots of patience. And don't worry about the bath, you could prob go all winter and not give her one and she would be fine.

NorthernMama 09-17-2008 09:13 PM


Originally Posted by Melony
Yeah, I was thinking I may have to cut it too. I'm gonna show her a pair of scissors the next time I go down there.

Really -- try the buckle first.

[quote]Hey, I have a REALLY hard time keeping her brush clean of dirt and hay and other things.. <snip> Right now the only kind of brush I have is the kind for the body.[quote]
You can get all you need for about $10 at this point. A $2 plastic palm brush for the mane and tail, a $3 rubber curry, a $5 body brush. You could even just use a stiff body brush for her mane and tail, esp if they are quite bad. It'd be easier on her than something that might pull. All you want to do anyway is get her used to it and be able to check out for any bumps and scrapes.


I wouldn't even go there for now. That's a lot to ask of a horse with her history at this point. Ask again next summer.


AND THEN ALL OF A SUDDEN SHE SPIT ALL OF HER CHEWED FOOD ALL OVER MY HEAD!! THE HECK, WHERE DID THAT COME FROM!? T_T;; I've never heard of a horse doing that before! What was up??
:?: never heard of that one before. Maybe she thinks she's a mother bird feeding her young! :lol:

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