Since her arrival at SAFE, Echo’s weight has dropped from 1,100 pounds to a much more height-appropriate 875 pounds. We soak her hay for 30 minutes to decrease sugars and are using hay that is suitable for easy keepers. The hay provides roughage and forage but is not as calorie packed as the orchard grass or alfalfa that other SAFE horses receive.
Echo has had several hoof trims by the farrier, handles fly spray more comfortably than initially, and is even getting some experience with trailer loading. We are working on conditioning ground work and bumping her up to a fence for mounting. She has no trouble being saddled and has had about seven rides. Echo has approximately 30 days of riding ahead of her to check soundness and to check for vices, and will then be started on trails. She has probably been a riding horse in the past but does not appear to have concentrated arena work. Arena work builds the tools, support, and relationship between rider and horse and is important in preparation for going out on the trail. Echo needs to learn to bend — a combination of the head, front end and hind end moving with a suppleness throughout the whole body. Other training objectives for Echo include getting her feet free, learning to change eyes, and not getting upset when a cinch or stirrup touches her side. She’s not a naughty horse, but she’s anxious, so working to get her relaxed and content with a rider on board is important. We estimate it will be another 4–6 weeks of training before she will be introduced as a riding horse.