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Bringing a young horse home

From: kodajc

First of all I would like to say what a pleasure it was to find your site on the Web.....I am a rookie at this NET stuff, so when I found horse-sense I was thrilled!!

About 3 months ago some very generous friends gave me a 2 and a half year old black and white tobiano paint gelding. He has lived at the same home with two other geldings all his life. I have a couple of concerns (problems) about moving Dancer to our home. We will be taking Dancer to a trainer in about a week. He has impeccable ground manners, he yeilds to very minimal pressure away and to you, he also accepts a saddle well.

We recently tried to put weight in the stirrup and Dancer began to buck....not with contempt, but out of fear and not understanding what we were asking from him. At this point my husband and I decided to take him to a trainer since we do not proclaim to be professionals. This particular trainer has studied with Ray Hunt and has a good grasp on the difference between respectful and fearful.

This is a long-about way of getting to my concerns....We will move Dancer from the only home he has ever known to the trainers, and then we will be moving him to our home. He will be the only horse in our pasture with two yearling calves (he has been around Longhorn cattle at his present home). I guess my questions are: will the calves give him the comfort of a "herd" when we move him here, and how can I help these moves between his present home, the trainer, and our home as stress free for him and us as possible? I have spent a minimum of thirty minutes a day with him for the last three months working on ground manners, grooming, etc.

I also intend to visit with him every day that he is in training as the trainer is very close by. Any help or suggestions you could pass on would be appreciated more than I could ever say. Thank you and keep up the good work. I look forward to my e-mail subscription to horse-sense.

Jaki Cast

Hi Jaki, welcome to horse-sense!

Lucky you, to have such nice friends. Your plan is a good one -- your young horse will be better off with a trainer, and if this trainer does Ray Hunt work, you couldn't ask for better.

I will make one suggestion: whenever possible, go spend time with your horse and the trainer AT the trainer's, not just visiting with your horse (although that is a good idea too!) but spending time watching his training. Watch, and listen, and learn, so that eventually, when the horse is ready, the trainer will work with BOTH of you. This is important. Your horse is being taught a new language, and when he comes home to you, you and he will communicate much, much better if you have learned the same language, from the same trainer.

I'm sure that Dancer will miss his buddies, but at least with two calves around he'll have companionship of some sort! It's definitely better than nothing; horses need other horse, but they can be kept with calves or a goat -- the important thing is that they shouldn't be kept alone.

Once he's moved to the trainer's and gotten used to that, it won't be quite as strange for him to move home with you. The first move is the most confusing! And you will be feeding him the same feed, and treating him and working with him just as you did when he was at the trainer's, and he will know you, so he WILL have some continuity. It may even work FOR you, as he may see you as his security -- the only one he "knows" in this new place.

Bear in mind that he will miss the other horses, though, and that he may act wild for a while. It's normal -- but be very careful with him, and just for safety's sake, you might want to wear your ASTM/SEI approved helmet when you are handling him, not just when you ride.

If he does get a bit wild at first, you'll need to understand that he's confused and disoriented, and that to a horse, changes in environment -- any changes in ANYthing -- are potentially threatening. This is all thanks to millions of years of evolution -- the Gene Police tossed all of the brave, calm horses out of the (gene) pool umpteen years ago. The ones that lived long enough to reproduce were the ones that THOUGHT they saw something scary, and RAN AWAY. The sensitive, observant, NERVOUS ones lived, and bred, and we're riding their descendants today. ;-)

There's not much you can do about the stress, other than get him used to doing different things, in different places, and enjoying whatever he does. When you bring him to your place from the trainer's place, you may be in for a week or two of Dancer running the fence and looking for other horses, and making faces at the calves -- and then Dancer may well settle in and become a calm and rational horse. If your trainer is good, and if you stay with your plan and learn to work with your horse, everything should go quite well. You'll know how well it's gone when Dancer has been under saddle for six months and still comes running up to you when he sees you with a saddle. ;-) Keep him happy, keep him secure, let him know what the rules are, don't punish him for being a horse -- you'll do just fine. And if you have problems, your trainer will be available, and you're always welcome to e-mail me privately or through horse-sense. ;-)


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