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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So yes, I WILL make a separate journal for my foster horse. It may be boring because I will spend a lot of time just describing what I did with him that day. Hopefully if this goes well and I decide to foster another horse, I can learn from what I did here. And if it goes poorly, I can still learn from it.

His background: he was seized by the sheriff department of a neighboring county. He was part of four horses that were seized, and he was in the best condition out of all of them. People here on HF were thinking his body condition was "maybe" a three, maybe a bit less. One of the horses that was seized died after making it to the vet. He is believed to be four years old.

The vet did everything a vet would do: teeth, vaccinations, sheath. They told me he kicked when his sheath was done, despite being sedated AND twitched. So that's good to know. Unfortunately his feet did not get done, and they are just terrible. Looking at them makes me wonder if he has ever had them done.

That's the background. Here's day 1 (Tuesday, August 30):

I picked him up. I was afraid it was going to storm, as storms were forecast and the radar looked really bad when I got started. But luckily it didn't. I want to say this trailer thing because I said it in my other journal but I'm very proud of myself so I will say it twice LOL. I misunderstood the directions the vet's office gave me and ended up having to execute a three-point turnaround with the trailer, and I did a very good job! I remembered my lesson about how to turn and back up. Yes I am super proud of myself.

They loaded him. He loaded pretty well. No problems on the way home, although after I unloaded him I saw that he had pawed a lot. I hope it wasn't because of my bad driving. I'm not sure if he doesn't like ramps or if he was just confused, but I unloaded him off my side ramp and he took a couple of steps down it and then jumped off the side. I led him to his paddock by myself. I was proud of that, too. I have never dealt with an unknown horse before. He was somewhat looky but for the most part stayed focused on me and followed well.

He quickly met the geldings in the next pasture, as well as the mini donkeys. I can't imagine he's seen donkeys before, but he had no problem with them -- he greeted them politely, just like he did all the horses. There was NO squealing and kicking, not from anyone. I wonder if it's just that he's really submissive, he sort of seems that way. Of course that may just be the fact that he's underfed, too. Who knows. He also met Pony and Teddy with no squealing or kicking, and surely that's a first. Basically his and Pony's intro went like this:
  • New horse: "Hello"
  • Pony: "Hoi!"
  • New horse: "I'm new here, can we be friends?"
  • Pony: "I sees you is new. You should know that I is the boss of you"
  • New horse: "Sounds good to me"
  • Pony: "OK we fwiends"
(Sorry, that's just how Pony talks)

After taking care of my horses, I went to stand by the fence to his paddock to watch him. He came up to me! He seemed pretty chill, so I went into the paddock with him. He wanted to smell my hands over and over again, then lip them. I let him know gently that I was OK with being smelled but not being lipped. He also wanted to put his head next to my face and smell me. I also gently let him know that that was not OK. He seems really nice, but it's just not a good habit to get into. I did let him smell all over me, though. He was very gentle. I started to trust him a little. He just seems like a nice guy.

Also, when I would walk away he would follow me. He would stand next to me, but not too close, generally. He did get too close one time so I pushed him away gently. He responded well.

I touched him on his back, sides, and neck. He seems like maybe a bit headshy but didn't object to any of that touching.

Oh, and even though I had told the people at the rescue that I planned to put him out in a paddock by himself with a round bale, it turned out that he is still under refeeding protocol, at least for another two weeks. So what we worked out is that he will go in a stall at night, with a little hay, and then be out in the paddock in the day. That way he will be slightly restricted WRT what he eats, but he will still be able to get out and run around (hopefully not run too much, not with those feet).
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Day 2

In general, unfortunately, I can't see him every day. I board my horses and they are about a 25-minute drive from me, plus I have a family to take care of as well! But I went out again today because the vet was coming for Moonshine. Just an aside about her -- she's doing even better than the vet expected, he is super happy. That's great because we had been looking at the strong possibility of euthanasia before, due to her stifle injury.

Anyways, what I did with the new guy was stand with him for a while. Then I walked away and he still wants to follow me. I gave him some new alfalfa hay (he has a round bale of coastal) and touched him on his back, flanks, and neck again. He was fine with that, so I expanded to his rear, his stomach, and his legs. No problems.

Since he seemed fine with me touching his legs, I thought I'd try to pick up his feet. So I ran my hands down his legs to his fetlock. He didn't respond at all. So I tried again, and then tapped the back of his fetlock gently and repetitively. After a few seconds he shifted his weight a miniscule amount off that foot, so I stopped, praised him and then stood next to his shoulder facing the same direction he was facing (so we were facing the same direction). I think he likes praise and being close, but I don't want to overwhelm him with too much focus on him. Then I did it a second time and got a slightly bigger shift. A third time and he actually lifted his heel up. A fourth time and he let me pick up his foot. A fifth time and he picked it up for me. I obviously praised him profusely, and of course I put the foot down very gently. He figured out what I wanted on the other front foot by the third try. So I don't know if he HAS had his feet worked on before, or at least picked up, or if he's a very fast learner. To be honest, I don't get the sense that he's an extremely intelligent horse. But maybe I just don't know him well enough yet. This was just his front feet; I'll try the backs tomorrow.

I also got the halter on him and led him around the paddock a bit. He's super soft to lead. I think it's because he's following me, not listening to the pressure of the lead rope. So he just looks at me and goes where I go. That's great, of course, as far as it goes. But I need to work with a little pressure too, to see how he listens to that. He'll need to understand yielding to pressure on his head, for riding.

Oh and I wanted to fly spray him. He didn't mind the bottle or the smell or the sound, but he didn't like it landing on him. So I sprayed some on a towel and rubbed it on him. The flies are really bad right now.

After this I went out to the other side of the fence, where Pony was. I mentioned that their introduction went very well, but I think Pony got jealous of all of the time and praise for the new horse (he was standing there watching me work with him), and he made to lunge at him (mind you there was a strong fence between them) when I was there. I told him off sharply and made him leave (what happens in the pasture stays in the pasture, but they aren't allowed to go after each other when I'm around, as it's not safe). He came back and stood there nicely again for a minute, then tried it again. I headed that one off before it really got started. After that he mostly made stink face at New Horse. I mention this because I'm hoping that New Horse sees me as protecting him after this.

I also just stood around a bit while he ate.

I really want to rush and do everything all at once, but I'm forcing myself to take things slowly. I'm not in a hurry, and I think it's a lot easier to make a mistake you'll regret from rushing than from going slowly. I think this guy would appreciate not being rushed, also.

Overall right now this guy is amazing. I had hoped for a young and friendly horse, and while they knew his age they didn't know anything about his personality. I totally lucked out! Right now he is probably the sweetest, friendliest horse in the barn. I hope his personality doesn't change once he gets some weight back on.
 

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AC.... the wanting to be near your face and sniff you their is he is scenting you to know you.
He is not threatening you at all...he is learning you.
If you watch new horses they each smell each others nostril and breath...its how they learn each other.
If his intent is to harm, his attitude indeed would turn and be different but everything you write of and mention the animal is doing is submissive and following your lead.
This horse may actually be highly trained in ground work, so much so he is following your shoulder and body motions.
Try pointing with your finger and see if he follows directions that way.
Turn your body so your facing backwards near his head and take a step forward...if he is really in tune, paying attention he should be stepping back and when you stop and square your feet so should he...in-hand horsemanship training skills...so are the finger wag and so light a touch to his shoulder should direct him where you want him to go..

Now, with all of that...you know I am "following" this new journey...

So far all sounds far further advanced in the horse accepting you, your leadership already and I do think you stepped in golden poop with this one.... So far, he has done nothing wrong and much right.
He even figured out what you were asking about feet and willingly gave & complied when obviously it has been a very long time since any of that was required of him. ;)

Can't wait for the next update..
🐴....
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
His name is "New Horse" LOL. The agency said I get to name him, BUT there is a catch -- he can't have a name that another one of their horses already had. So for instance I had been thinking "Beau" but of course they already have a Beau. I have a couple of other things I've been thinking. I want to spend the weekend with him, then I will probably start a "name my horse" thread.

Well, a preview of the other two I have right now:
Trueheart
Amador (Spanish for Beloved)
 

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Beauregard is a masculine name of French origin meaning "beautiful gaze."
A beautiful gaze that horse has watching the other horses from a distance and watching you...

You then have Beau as a shortened name and or Reggie..
Short for Reginald,...
A user from Georgia, U.S. says the name Reginald means "Royal". A submission from Florida, U.S. says the name Reginald means "Kingly".

Either of those names are easy off the tongue to say and have a nice meaning associated with them.

As for the rescue and their "you can't"....please. 🤣yes, I find that funny.
When new owners get a horse they change the animals name...near always to help make it "yours".
Didn't you change Pony's or Moonshine from something else?
I know my horses all got new names and learned them when food was associated with that sound & noise. Took about 2 weeks and the horses recognized their name and a bribe was coming if they responded.

Name the horse what you want....
Is the rescue coming weekly to visit and call the horse the name you choose? I highly doubt that...
Pictures sent, updates from the vet since you might still be under vet care since he is so depleted till he is well on the road to recovery...then I wouldn't be surprised to hear crickets till time to move arrives and some tough decisions you face and that rescue too of where do we put him, find another foster or let him go with the ones who have been so devoted to his care and health restored and obviously love the animal...
No contest...if you want him he will go with you...truly.
The rescue would be foolish to forfeit a good home with caring, loving people when the community is so over-flowing with excess animals in need of homes.
🐴... jmo...
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Day 3

Today was not as good. He was happy to see me, which was good. I went to work on picking up his front feet, and you'd have thought no one had ever picked them up before LOL. We had to go back to square one, and if anything it seemed like it took him a bit longer to figure it out this time. We did get it done. Next time I work with his feet, I'll be sure to start at the beginning again.

His back feet were worse. My feeling is that he feels unbalanced when they get picked up, or it may be related to him kicking when he had his sheath done, but he wanted to kick when they were picked up. I'm not sure if this was right, but what I did was hold on to the foot until he was done kicking (they weren't very serious kicks) then I said "good boy" and put the hoof down gently. He was the same on both sides. I need to think about what is the best way forward here. I don't want to punish him for kicking right now, as I don't think he's trying to be mean and I don't think starting a fight is the answer. I think he just needs to build up some confidence about picking them up. I'm not sure how to do that right now.

To do something he'd hopefully be better at, I put on the halter and lead rope and led him around again, more than before. This time I really thought about moving the lead rope so as to create pressure for him, and he did react to the pressure, which is good. So he's following closely but also listening to pressure. I think the next thing we'll do is go outside his paddock and go stand in the arena. I'm curious how he will do just standing there. Pony was always happy to just stand but Teddy tends to get antsy. Standing while being held is something else we need to work on before the farrier comes (I am NOT going to try to tie him right now).

I let him eat for a bit, and then he came up to me and wanted to hang out. Well, he wanted to hang out in my space. Like, literally exactly where I was. So we're already having the conversation about personal space, which is good. Let's have it now while he's still weak and malnourished LOL. It's fine... he moves out when I tell him to. I'm not ready to punish him for getting into my space right now. He's not nasty about it, but he's inconsiderate. Does that make sense? He's not trying to move me, but he's not really caring that he's in my space. So for now, unless he gets really rude about it, I'll just keep pushing him back out. If he's still doing it next week, I may need to add "NO" to it. We'll see.
 

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I love Trueheart...my friend has a Braveheart and we call him Brave. I think True would be a nice name for a horse. Seems like he would have to be an honest one.

I think he is doing well with his feet! With Aria it took a while just to touch her hind legs below the hip, then to allow a lingering hand, and lots of practice before we could shift weight. Those things require a ton of trust. You are taking away their ability to run off.

I would not stress about kicking movements if he is not kicking at you. Just keep being patient and he will trust more. He is overriding the instinct to pull free and run.

Be sure to keep the legs very low, and be careful about him losing his balance and falling toward you. Other underweight horses I've handled could hold up their hind legs, but Aria could not for about 6 months. She lacked the muscle strength and coordination. It was a two person job to trim her hinds until then. I could pick her hooves very low, but she fell toward me a lot.

The vet said not to worry, and she holds her legs up very well now. Just be aware a thin horse may not be trying to misbehave if he struggles with hind hoof handling.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Day 4

I didn't go see him today, but at some point in the afternoon I had something like a panic or anxiety attack, thinking what have I gotten myself into? I had the speeded up heart rate, tunnel vision, inability to focus on anything. But then I remembered that there's no pressure or rush here. Yes I want to get him to where he can have his feet trimmed, they are so bad. But beyond that the bare minimum that I have to do is feed him up and handle him. I can do that. I can do that. I can do that. We will take everything as slowly as both of us need. If there's a day where I get high anxiety while I'm out there with him, well then all we'll do is stand around the hay bale and chill. Neither of us would mind that.

I think I've subconsciously been putting some pressure on myself for him. I need to just let that go. Just take things as they come. I can do that.
 

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Not only can you do that, but we are confident that you'll do it just fine!
I agree! And sympathize...it made me very anxious when I couldn't handle my pony yet. It felt like I could see her hooves growing longer, like one of those time lapse videos. But honestly, they'd never been done in her entire life, so there was no emergency except in my head. It's the same with your horse. His hooves have possibly never been done, so regardless of how long it takes you to get them trimmed, they'll not get worse than they are now. He's a million times better off now, with you.
 

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I can understand the anxiety. I felt it when I got my first horse after not having one for over 20 years. Can I remember everything? Can I really afford it? Can I handle any problems that come up? Everything worked out fine and I've learned a lot since then.

This is a learning experience for you, enjoy it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Day 5

Looking at my last post got me wondering what this horse will teach me. Maybe he will teach me emotional honesty. I mean, being honest with myself about what I feel. That would really be something.

So today we worked on feet again. It was back to square one with the fronts, but at least I was mentally prepared for that, so I was fine with it. He was picking them both up after maybe 3-5 tries.

The backs went a lot better. He kicked out a little on the first one, but small kicks, and just two. Then he stopped and I put it down. I gave him a break and came back. He gave a tiny kick but then wanted to put all of his weight on me. I let him, and then I let him sort of find his balance and get comfortable, and then I put the hoof down gently. The other side was also two very small kicks.

I am thinking it's possible the farrier might not be such an emergency situation. I don't advocate this as a good standard of care, but it seems that his hooves are trying to self-trim. One of the backs already has and one of the fronts is well on its way (see pic). The other back isn't super bad, so if that one other front would self-trim, then I think we'd be ready for the farrier once it was time again.

I took him to the arena. I guess he has never seen sand before, because he was walking with his nose down sniffing it most of the time. You know how some horses cross water? That's how he was. I let him sniff all the ground poles, the standards, the mounting block, whatever poop was in there. I walked him over a couple of ground poles. He just sniffed them and then walked over. He was a little looky but not too much. He didn't shy, startle, or even flinch at anything. I also worked on us standing still, which didn't go so well, so there's another hole to fill. Leading him back, I let him have grass in a couple of places, but then he got kind of demanding so I had to stop. Also, going back into his paddock, I hesitated for some reason and then he stopped and didn't want to go in. I had to use the ole' "turn his head to unlock the movement" thing to get him going. In the future, I'll remember to just not pause there and I think it should be fine.

Today I thought, why am I letting him in my space when I don't want him there, and then pushing him out? I decided to just not let him in in the first place. I know, duh, right? I decided that if he comes in nicely I will let him, and if he barges I won't. So he tried to barge once and I just stopped him with my body language, and that was that.

I'm starting to imagine this horse's history. I'm thinking he must have been a beloved foal, who was much loved by his human(s) and loved them in return. There would have been a lot of them rubbing all over him, and him rubbing all over them. They hand fed him and let him get away with all kinds of things and generally spoiled him because he was so lovable and cute. Then he got bigger and...? They just stopped working with him? They got sick and couldn't spend time with him any more? His wanting to be close wasn't so cute once he weighed 600 pounds? I don't know. The whole thing is just a guess, but he's a bit mouthy, not too careful with personal space, and super friendly. So that's what I get out of that.

OK I don't know if I've just gotten used to him being skinny, but to me he looks better already. See pictures! All the pictures here are from today, but the lighting makes him look skinner in some. What do you guys think, am I imagining it? I need to see if my weight tape came. Also I need to see how he feels about having the weight tape wrapped around him LOL.

Finally, his name is Rowan. My daughter was looking up "hippie" names (because of his "haircut" which looks like hippie hair to her, which I think is totally unfair because who names someone because of the way their hair looks?). She suggested a few, and then she said Rowan. And I just knew that was his name. So he has a name now! Now I can finish filling out his paperwork.
 

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