What a nice horse Jax has turned out to be! He’s made such a transformation since entering our horsemanship program about a month ago. It’s been extremely enjoyable working with this gelding, and teaching him a new and better way of being.

When we started working with Jax, there were two issues that came to light right away. First was anxiety…he seemed to think that “being worked” meant flying around the round pen at top speed. We introduced him to a new gait called the walk, and helped him understand that walking in a relaxed manner was a perfectly acceptable option from time to time. He was also massively stiff in his neck and body, like he’d never been asked to bend before. We started with gentle bending exercises, then started working on moving in small circles, then taught him to move his hindquarters over. This work was transformative to both his body and his general outlook on life. There are some who criticize the horsemanship we do because it seems to involve a lot of bending…but to see a horse who cannot bend, who can’t move away from pressure because his feet are stuck…frankly, it’s awful. There is a clear connection between freedom of movement and happiness. Jax is living proof of that.

Under saddle, Jax has been wonderful to work with. He’s such a patient, tolerant, unbothered horse. True, he has more whoa than go, but he literally never does anything naughty with a rider on his back. In our large outdoor covered arena, he can get a little distracted knowing that there are horses in every direction, but not to the extent that it becomes obnoxious. He’s got a lot of try, and he’s a pretty smart cookie too. He’s very teachable. He needs to continue to build his strength — right now his trot is pretty hard to sit — but his stamina has already improved a great deal. We’ll try to get him out on the trails real soon, but I have a feeling he’ll do great in the great outdoors.

On the ground, Jax wants to be a pocket pony, which is sweet, but not what we want from an animal his size. He came to us with some annoying habits, like rubbing his head on you, pushing you with his nose, getting into your space etc. but it has not taken much for him to understand that rudeness will not be tolerated, mainly by backing him up and making him stay outside his handler’s “bubble.” It’s pretty clear that he got away with such behavior in the past, so his adopter will need to be mindful of this and correct him quickly if he gets pushy. He knows better, and with consistent boundaries, it’s not going to be a problem.

All in all, this horse is pretty special, and will make a great friend and partner for someone. I may be biased, because I like Jax a lot, but I swear he gets better looking all the time. His dark bay coat shines now, and his head looks more sculpted than it did when he arrived. He’s got good confirmation, and a really good mind and disposition. If he didn’t have a lip tattoo you might not believe that he’s an off-the-track Thoroughbred. He’s made terrific progress during his time at SAFE and he has the potential to go a lot farther!