At the beginning of July, we got two temporary additions to our program. Chance (a 12-year old unbranded Mustang gelding) and Sandy (an 8-year old Quarter Horse mare) will both be staying with us for about three years while their "mom" finishes school. We are thankful to have these two loaners with us for awhile - we started them pretty quick into the program and they seem to fit right in. The pictures below show each of them with various clients throughout the past few weeks.
The top two pictures show Mary and Sandy working on basic lungeing. The pair then moved on to yielding over from sideways pressure.
These three pictures exhibit Chance following Shane across a bridge.
Here, Rachael and Chance were working on saddling and then explored the neighborhood.
In these pictures, Ronnie and Sandy were introduced and then did some work in the square pen.
Here, Chance is interacting with Talli while she soaks in his calm energy.
Dr. Laurie introduced Chance to Wesley, who led him over several poles in the round pen and helped him work on backing up. Afterwards, Wesley groomed Chance and focused on his calm and quiet temperament.
In this series of pictures, Ronnie introduced Sandy to some of the obstacles and the indoor arena at Pegasus Event Center.
From the pictures above, it's clear that these horses have already interacted with many different clients. We have been pleased with both of them, and look forward to continuing to work with them over the next few years.
In May, we rescued Zeus, a black 12-year old Mustang gelding. When we got him his coat was dull, he didn't have much energy, and he was about a 2 on the 1-9 body score chart that is used to measure horses' body conditions. The pictures below show how he looked when we first got him.
Over the past two months, Zeus' condition has greatly improved. Since he has gained weight, several clients have been working with him on desensitization, lungeing, and exercises to build up muscle.
In the above picture (taken at the beginning of June), Amy spent some time grooming Zeus in the round pen. On the same day she also worked on desensitization with a flag and getting him used to things touching his mouth.
In these two pictures, Mary held Zeus so the farrier could trim his hooves.
After a few weeks, Zeus had gained weight and we gradually started doing more work with him to help get him into shape. This series of pictures (from the middle of June) shows Zeus and Rachael working on a hill to help him start developing some muscle.
In this first picture, Zeus is working on standing tied to the trailer. Then, Amy worked with him with a saddle pad and, eventually, the saddle. It took Zeus some time to let the pad be placed on his back, but once he did, Amy put it on several times before moving on to the saddle.
Zeus was more worried about the saddle than he was the pad, so we moved him away from the trailer to give him more space. Amy pulled up some grass and placed it on the saddle to encourage Zeus to touch it. Eventually, he let her approach him with the saddle from both sides and she was able to place it on his back. They also took a walk around the yard with the saddle on before calling it a day. While he's not ready to be ridden, it's good for Zeus to start getting used to a saddle again.
These pictures show Zeus once again standing at the trailer, this time while Ramona picked his hooves.
This last set of pictures shows Zeus learning to ground drive with two of our Marines. First we started with just putting the surcingle (the strap around his belly) on and then having Jon walk him around the yard. Then we attached long lines to his halter and ran them through the sides of the surcingle to introduce him to ground driving. Zeus was unsure about what was expected of him at first, but after a few minutes, Keith and Jon drove him around the yard in each direction. This is a good introduction for Zeus to moving with something around his belly, as well as to responding to side pressure on his head; this is one step closer in preparing him to be ridden. This was also a good exercise for Jon and Keith as they had to work on team work, communication, and redefining success.
We are pleased with how well Zeus has progressed over the past few months. He's looking much better than he did in May (you can see his coat is glossy and he has filled out some), and his personality is starting to come out now that he is feeling better and has more energy. We look forward to continuing our work with him, watching him come further out of his shell, and seeing how he lives up to his name.
Last fall, we picked up Max from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) as part of the Trainer Incentive Program (TIP). TIP allows approved trainers to take a horse from the BLM and work with him/her in order to make the horse more adoptable. The minimum requirements for Mustangs in TIP before they can be advertised as adoptable are that they can be haltered, loaded on a trailer, and they allow all four hooves to be picked up.
We have had several TIP horses in the past, and Max is one of our current projects. This little three year old has come a long way since we brought him home, and over the past few weeks, several of our veterans have been working with him to continue preparing him for adoption.
In the above pictures, Dr. Laurie and Ramona work together to give Max his first bath. While he wasn't too sure about it at first, he quickly adapted to the spray of water and the noises made by the hose attachment and he was soon back to munching on the lawn.
Shane, another one of our veterans, helped Max work on trailering this past week. After some strategic hay placement and treat encouragement, Max got in several times!
These photos show Max in both an English and Western saddle. Rachel (one of our interns) worked with him in the round pen to help him adjust to the feel of moving under saddle, and Dr. Laurie worked on some basic lungeing. In the first picture, he's also demonstrating how he can stand tied to a trailer, and he has a bridle on in the last picture!
This last set of pictures shows Brent and Ronnie working together to help Max learn to ground drive. Ground driving involves two long lines attached to the sides of the halter that are then run through rings on the sides of the surcingle (the strap around Max's belly). The ground driving allows Max to grow accustomed to pressure and direction on the side of his face, which will eventually translate to being directed with a bit and bridle.
This was also a good exercise for the two veterans because they had to work on communication, patience, team work, and accepting that success does not necessarily have to be defined as perfection.
So far, we are incredibly pleased with how well Max has been doing. He's a sweet-tempered, curious little horse and he learns quickly - we are excited to see how he continues to progress!
Laurie has a PhD in Psychology and has a love for horses. She has taken these two attributes to do equine facilitated therapy. Basically she uses horses to make people feel better mentally.