Lacey, Lacey… Lacey… Where do I begin? To love horses you really have to accept everything about them. They have good and bad days; they have personalities and little quirks just like us. I think I will write this report like my teacher did in my parent-teacher conferences… like an Oreo cookie the good, the challenges and then some more good.
Miss Lacey went to Joel’s to get started a few months ago. She did very well turned out with the other mares and the saddle work was typical for a green horse. She is a little “cold backed” so even with months of saddle work; she is a little tight to start each session but nothing a little groundwork in the beginning doesn’t fix.
There are two issues we are having with her: food aggression and extreme sensitivity to things touching her rump or flank area. Joel called me halfway through Lacey’s training, concerned that he just wasn’t seeing changes in these two areas. She had done well accepting a rider and being taken into all the gaits. However, if any thing or anyone touched her hind end, she would squeal and kick out, and if he approached her while she was eating her grain, she would strike and bite at him. He worked at it for a long time and never saw the sort of lasting change that he hoped for. In the end, he and I decided that there was nothing more he could do for her and that that hopefully, with some more time and continued work at SAFE, she will get better.
To rule out any health issues, we had her checked out by Dr. Fleck, who performed a pelvic ultrasound. Everything looked normal. He is having us try some hormones to see if balancing out her cycles could help with her sensitivity in her hindquarters. She is on a 10-day trial of Regumate to see if it makes a difference. We are glad there was nothing found in the ultrasound that was causing her pain. It is always good to rule out underlining medical issues and I am grateful that SAFE takes the time to do this for our horses.
As far as the food aggression, there is probably always going to be something there and whoever is around her will need to be mindful. When she is in her stall eating and you enter her space, she will pin her ears. If you let her, she will try to bite or strike at you. The best way to change this behavior is to “move her feet” and change the leadership dynamic. I don’t get angry with her, I just simple ask her to move away from her food dish. She will then drop the aggression and look to me to find out what I need her to do. She becomes much more docile. I can then touch her and then invite her back to her hay. This is something that will get easier over time, but right now, someone who is timid or not sure what to do with this type of behavior should not be around her when she is eating.
There is a lot of heart and sweetness in this mare’s eyes. Working with mares in general is a special thing. They are smart and deserve respect. She is making progress and is definitely a one-woman horse. Her size makes her attractive to kids, but unfortunately she is too young and too green to go to a family with small children. She tends to like a soft approach where there is a lot of kindness behind the requests but also clarity as to what being asked. I also think she is very brave and gets along well as the lead mare in the herd. I am excited to see how she is on the trails so we will hopefully be out there a lot this summer. Lacey is my special project, and I hope that we can start showing her to potential adopters later this year.