Lacey is a young mustang filly who was born at a wild horse sanctuary. She and Stevie were adopted by a family who fell in love with his photo. Unfortunately their adopter was forced to rehome the two youngsters due to personal circumstances. Two years later, the original owners were contacted by the person who had taken them, who also was unable to keep them. Concerned for their safety, both owners turned to SAFE for help. We evaluated the horses with the assistance of our veterinarian at Mt Rainier Equine, who found them to be in decent health and soundness, but pretty thin. (Lacey needs to gain about 75 pounds.) The two horses were surrendered into our care.
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.
Joel used Lacey to demo how to saddle a green horse.
Jessel and Lacey made their way over to Ellensburg to start working with Joel Conner. They are both doing well and I checked in with Joel this week to see how the girls are doing. The plan is to give Lacey 90 days of professional training and let Jessel winter over with Joel. He’s going to lightly start her under saddle and keep her exposed to professional, consistent handling to ensure she is learning the best manners possible.
Here is what Joel had to say about the two girls:
“JWOW (aka Jessel) is doing really good she’s been wonderful to saddle and ride. She is acting a little bit bothered by the road behind her so we’re getting her over that. Also she is learning how to move away from you when she’s tied up and not kick.
Ol Snooki (aka Lacey) is getting better every day. She is learning how to stay on the wall and walk trot lope. We are also working with her on making sure that she doesn’t kick when she’s tied up. We’re working with her with the rope and the mighty fart noise!”
So a little explanation might be needed here…Joel always comes up with nicknames for the horses and this time we just had to share! Snooki and JWOW are quite a pair and the names are just as fun as these two young mares! Also the “mighty fart noise” is something interesting that we found out about Lacey when we started to work with her here at SAFE. She absolutely hates it if you make a kiss sound or “fart noise”. She becomes quite agitated, tossing her head and overreacting! We work on getting her used to it here but Joel is still having to work on getting her to relax about. It.s pretty funny but also a bit puzzling…why would she react to a noise this way but be okay with a tarp hanging off her back? Silly ponies! Sometimes you have to just scratch your head, smile, and tell her she’s going to be alright and a noise will not hurt her.
Both of these horses were my training projects while they were here at SAFE and I grew to love their personalities. They both have a very sweet side but before we could see that sweet side, they needed to learn to respect their handler. I am very excited to see the work Joel is doing with them and thrilled to have such good report cards coming in. I miss seeing them at the barn but know this is an important time in their lives and trust Joel’s skills 100%. It is amazing to be able to work with such a gifted and heartfelt trainer, I know the girls are going to turnout to be wonderful riding horses!
Here are some photos of them at Joel’s:
Lacey gets a kiss as Terry drops her off at training
Joel works with Jessel on her hind and helping her not to kick.
Sunday morning, three young redheads were saddled up and worked in the roundpen at the start of the clinic. This included Jessel (who met the saddle for the first time at yesterday’s clinic), Sophie, and Lacey. Here are photos from this session:
We have taken them slowly through the re-feeding process, starting with just what they were getting for hay when they came to us and slowly increasing that to the full amount required. Horses need between 2-4% of their body weight in hay. Our flakes are about 5 pounds each so since Stevie needs to be around 900 pounds to be at full weight he requires 18-36 pounds of hay, Lacey requires 13-26 pounds per day. In our big 3 string bales of Eastern Washington Timothy hay, at 5 pounds a flake, Stevie will need 4-8 flakes a day and Lacey with 3-6 flakes. From what we estimated, Stevie and Lacey were sharing around 10 pounds of hay per day. It is clear why these two were not thriving and why they both were so thin. For the last 3 weeks we have been increasing their hay a small amount every other day and soaking it for 30 minutes rinsing off extra sugar as they adjust to getting more hay and preventing them from colic.
They were allowed to start a simple vitamin that covered the basic needs and contains the selenium that our Washington hay is lacking. They also were allowed access to the salt mineral block in their stalls right away and of course access to clean water 24 hours a day. Lacey was found many times chewing on her mineral block, a very good indicator that she was in need of them and had not been getting them before coming to SAFE. After working to the full amount of hay and slowly transferred them to dry un-soaked hay, we could begin adding a mash. This week they are begin to get a mash 2x a day to add more calories into their diets. Since they are so thin they simply can’t eat enough hay in one day to recover from their starvation. The mash helps them get more calories while they recover and this too is added slowly over the next few weeks. They will maintain on free choice hay and 2-3x per day mashes until they are up to weight. Then for some time after that as we slowly start them into work as to not slide backwards in their recent weight gain. They will ALWAYS need 2-4% their body weight in hay. Depending on the level of work a horse is in the 2% in the minimum needed to be at weight. This can fluctuate depending on how much grazing time they are able to get in summer month but is a good rule of thumb.
Please join us in welcoming the two newest faces at SAFE! Stevie and Lacey are two young mustangs who were born in the wild, then rounded up and sold at auction. They are now three and a half years old and while they haven’t had the easiest life so far, they have landed in a place where their future is bright.
Stevie and Lacey were born at the Wild Horse Sanctuary, which is located on 5,000 acres of meadow and forest land in Shingletown CA. The Wild Horse Sanctuary is home to nearly 300 wild horses and burros, most of whom were removed from public range lands in many parts of the western United States during government round ups. Foals born at the Sanctuary are offered for adoption each year. Stevie was adopted by a family who fell in love with his photo, and ultimately decided to take on Lacey as well.
Unfortunately their adopter was forced to rehome the two youngsters due to personal circumstances. Two years later, the original owners were contacted by the person who had taken them, who also was unable to keep them. Concerned for their safety, both owners turned to SAFE for help. We evaluated the horses with the assistance of our veterinarian at Mt Rainier Equine, who found them to be in decent health and soundness, but pretty thin. (Stevie needs to gain about 150 pounds, Lacey about 50-75.) The two horses were surrendered into our care, and arrived at Safe Harbor last Sunday.
Of the two, Stevie is the worst off. He’s visibly underweight, with prominent hips and ribs and a ewe neck. Lacey is shorter and stockier, so she does not look as bad as he does. She is also the dominant horse of the pair, so it’s likely that she got the larger share of what they were being fed. Both horses have dull coats from lack of nutrition and seem a little dull attitude-wise as well. They are both extremely sweet and friendly, and quite interested in people, so they have clearly been treated well in their short lives. A few months of good nutrition and plentiful food and they should be just fine.
SAFE has “the kids” in quarantine for two weeks where they are being treated for any possible lice and are being closely monitored for any signs of illness by our staff and volunteers. They are also being re-fed an appropriate diet for their current weight and condition.
Once they get a clear bill of health, both Stevie and Lacey will start into training. Stevie in particular has displayed some herd-bound behavior and needs to learn boundaries so he can be safely handled. Lacey has impressed us a lot with her willingness to approach new situations, like trailer loading. She definitely has her moments of mare-ish-ness, but she’s pretty easy to handle and was surprisingly well behaved for the veterinarian. A big plus for a 3 year old and quite promising in terms of her future demeanor!
We look forward to working with these bright young horses and will enjoy watching them as they transform into beautiful representatives of their hardy breed.