Published 12-09-2011 8:01 AM | Fernanda Camargo
It is exciting to get a new horse, everyone agrees! But it is important that you remind yourself that your new horse does not know you like your old horse does. Your mannerisms and routine have become what is "normal" for your old horse, especially if you've owned it for a long time, but it is not so with your new horse!!
Be extra careful and mindful of how you conduct yourself around your new horse until it gets accustomed to its new life, which includes its new owner!
I just got a new horse about a month ago. I was bringing my reining mare home from her trainer and she needed a pasture mate. So I ended up getting another horse to make her company. He is adapting very well and the two love each other. He is, however, much more playful and silly than she is, although he is only 1 year younger than her. Running, rearing and bucking is what he does best. And then they lie down and take long naps.
I am giving him the winter off so he can get used to his new life. He seems to like it. He nickers every time he sees me, he comes running to me begging to be caught, and if I am not there to catch him he follows me around better than my dog. He is a good horse, friendly, mindful, and very funny.
However, it has rained a lot in the last 2 months and I finally broke down and put the horses in their stalls for a few nights. Since horses like to pee and poop in a clean stall, I take advantage of feeding time to brush them and also pick the droppings before I leave them for the night. Mattie is used to the routine and I can tell that she likes (or doesn't mind) the extra attention. She also doesn't mind the bucket at her stall door and myself with a manure fork inside the stall with her. I make sure to never stand between her and a wall, always moving her close to the wall so I can have space to pick up the manure pile she insists in not releasing in the pasture, saving it for her newly bedded stall.
Yesterday was no different. However, after I was done with the mare, I proceeded to the gelding's stall. He was happily eating, I brushed him and then saw a manure pile. He didn't mind the fork, or me, or the action of picking up the poop.... continued to happily eat. However, he became curious and moved closer to me. As a precaution, I tapped him on the shoulder with the manure fork handle. His reaction was interesting to say the least. This horse buckled down his legs, lowered his head and started to lie down, shaking with fear. I grabbed his halter, not allowing him to lie down and touched his shoulder again with the fork... his reaction was the same. I can't tell you that my new beautiful horse was beaten up with a fork, maybe someone taught him tricks, or maybe he is just a very sensitive horse. I spent the next 15 minutes rubbing him with the fork and assuring him that the fork is not his enemy, petting him verbally assuring him. Every time he would relax, I would stop touching him with the fork and verbally commend him. Then I would touch him again. This lasted about 15 minutes before I could touch him with the fork handle without him reacting to it. This is a horse that rides very well, but I should not assume that just because he is brave under saddle that he does not need any desensitizing.
I plan to have other desensitization sessions.... every day we work on something.... this coming week will be on touching his shoulder and legs with different objects!