I wrote recently about our success worming 40 of the 41 rescue horses in a single day. The final mare, Daisy, refused the flavored wormer that we had mixed in with some tasty senior feed. Smart girl! She knew that something was amiss. So, Dawn and I returned to the other property last Friday with a different brand of feed and a variety of treats. Still no luck! So, what do you do with an unhalter trained horse who refuses her wormer?
Time for some Horse TrainingObviously, worming would have been a whole lot simpler if Daisy was halter broke. Its definitely time to start working with her and a few of the other newer horses. This will make future wormings easier, as well as other tasks such as vaccinations, veterinary care, and trailer loading.
Since we had her in the round pen for our second worming attempt, I worked with her just a bit at the property. She was a little nervous at the beginning since up to this point she hadn’t let us touch her. Since she didn’t want to stand still, I walked around the pen with her. Anytime that she would stop or show signs of relaxation, I would move away, taking the pressure off. Sometimes I’d put too much pressure on and she’d go trotting off. However, she learned fairly quickly that I wasn’t trying to hurt her.
When she was letting me within arm’s reach, I started moving slightly in front of her shoulder, causing her to stop. Then I could walk away, removing the pressure. Next, I started reaching out and touching her just before I left. The first few times she was obviously uncomfortable with this, but pretty quickly she was letting me scratch and rub on her shoulder. Then, she figured out she kind of liked being scratched!
Pretty soon, she was letting me scratch and rub all over. She was still a bit unsure and would move away occasionally, but she seemed to enjoy the attention and was more relaxed. We called it quits for the day on that progress.
More Horse Swapping for Easier Training
One reason we haven’t worked much with Daisy and a handful of our other newer horses is that the rescue horses are currently split between two properties. The horses at the main property are easy to work with, but the horses at the other property are turned out on 35 acres. They are happy and well looked after, it’s just hard to do much training!The main property has a bit of extra wiggle room, so on Monday we decided to take two of the yearlings, Blossom and Tex, to the other property and bring back Daisy and Gatsby (a sorrel gelding) so that they can get some proper training. Once they learn a few of the basics we’ll take them back to the property and bring back two of the other horses who also need some work.
So, on Monday Dawn and I delivered Blossom and Tex to the property and brought back Daisy and Gatsby. This was a bit of an adventure, as none of the four have a whole lot of trailer loading experience. Blossom and Tex have never been led into a trailer, but they are both now sweeties and were easily bribed in with a bit of food.
Daisy and Gatsby were a bit harder, as neither is yet halter trained. We built a large catch pen around the trailer and got both of them in the pen. Then, using food in the trailer and a bit of pressure we were able to convince both of them to get into the trailer. Both horses let us rub and scratch them in the catch pen, so with a bit of human contact at the rescue they should be pretty easy to work with. All in all, it was a very successful day! Stay tuned for more Daisy and Gatsby news, I have a feeling they’re both going to be quick little learners.