We asked weekend Barn Manager Ian to tell us a little bit about Angel and how she is adjusting to life at Safe Harbor. Ian has a very gentle way in his relationship with horses which is the perfect energy for Angel right now. Here is what Ian had to say about this timid mare:
Angel came to us extremely shy and mistrusting of humans, and also undernourished and in need of farrier work. My first time catching her at pasture with her herd was maybe 30 min of advance and retreat games that she finally acquiesced to. Due to her weight, we have been feeding her a mash at lunch in addition to her morning and evening feeds. To feed her, we must catch her and lead her outside of her pasture to keep her herd-mates from sampling the delicious grain. This little ritual of catching for grain has helped her immensely.
In addition to associating being caught with being fed, I have been very, very slowly and gently working on handling her and accustoming her to human touch. She is still very touchy around her hindquarters, especially from the stifle downward. However, after a couple months of this ritual, I can now touch her anywhere from shoulder to stifle without too much trouble. We are still taking this slow, rebuilding trust, but it is showing positive results in other areas. She is now being easier to catch and handle by other volunteers, as I now use any opportunity for other volunteers to catch her to accustom her to being handled by other people. She is coming along in great leaps and strides, but still has a long way to go. Compared to some horses who need more structure and support, Angel needs quiet love and someone with the patience to keep at her trouble spots for as long as it takes for her to have her process with it.