“Settling” a Saddle Horse

Posted April 14th, 2014 — Filed in Horses, Stockmanship, Testimonials

Comment: . . . .   I had my best (but aged) saddle horse shipped here (2,000 mile trip with stays at new barns etc) and when he arrived he was in a real funk- he was listless, wondering around the pasture and not really recognizing me or my wife and not paying attention when I called him.  He was not really eating nor socializing properly with the other horses either.  I thought about his condition a little while and that I wanted to change it.  I have changed calves in a similar state many times but of course this is a horse.  Thinking back to the innumerable times I had to, when this low stress stuff was new to me,  think of cattle as horses, I decided to think of my horse as I do cattle then I could go to work.   I  put a rope on him, asked him to follow me, to turn left then right then backup then finally to stop and stand still. When his attention was more on me than his worries, I made him stand still (corrected him for wiggling etc) while he got a good brushing.  I curried him for some time as he needed it and then, after he was standing still on his own and calm,  let him go.  He immediately joined up with the other horses, stood calmly near them, hiked up a hind leg and was calm as could be.  Later he started grazing, but calmly now, not eating a bite then walking etc like before.   The next day he was still tired but acting again like a normal horse.  This experience made me think about proper handling-that it doesn’t just get the job done right, it doesn’t just produce great control- it really changes the animals in our charge.  I think the change that proper handling produces is deeper than I understand and maybe like (Tom Dorrance I think) said, deeper than we can understand.  If someone else out there has a horse shipped a long ways and it shows up stressed or if you work at a stable that receives horses, don’t just leave them alone, work them right. Now I have a happier horse, which makes a happier wife and thus a happier me, all just by taking his attention off his worries and troubles and on to me, then a pleasurable scratching and brushing.

Answer:    It’s amazing how working with Bud’s principals cause people to be more sensitive to everything and everybody around them.  It also teaches that you can do something about a problem even if you have no idea when you start.   One of Bud’s favorite comments was “Do something, even if it’s wrong!”