Lancelot, along with his 6 other cohorts, were living in squalor in the area outside of Gig Harbor when we picked them up this past May. Lance’s paddock was a mud pit surrounded by broken and bent panels. His only source of water was from a dirty trough, and the ribs protruding from beneath his coat showed that he was not getting all the calories he needed. Lance was a stallion when we got him, and while we are always rather wary about untouched stallions, he quickly proved himself to be on the sweeter end of the spectrum.
That is not to say that we did not have our challenges, or plenty of work to do before Lance could really be called gentle. The first step would be getting to the point where we could touch him, let alone halter him. There may have been a time in his life when he had been caught before, but it had clearly been a while, and he was wary of being approached. Over the course of two days Joel was here, he was able to rope Lance and work on those initial halter starting steps — mostly just working on Lance learning how to give to pressure and moving his hind.
It was clear that Lance had a poor understanding of what pressure meant. Instead of giving to it, his first reaction was to scramble backwards, or pull against it. But he is a smart fellow, and by the end of the second day, he had a much better understanding of what it meant. By the end of the second day, too, we were able to get a halter on Lance, and began some work at the end of the halter rope. We also worked towards helping Lance understand that a pet was a good thing, and he soon stopped shying away from our hands as much as he once did, and actually began to enjoy a stroke on the forehead.
From there, it was daily work on hindquarters, frontquarters, forward, as well as preparation to see the vet and the farrier. Lance was a nice stallion, but he would make an even nicer gelding, but in order to make that happen for him he had to be gentle enough to sedate. His feet were also in need of a trim, so we began work on getting him to lift his feet and hold them for longer and longer periods.
When it finally happened, Lance’s gelding went relatively smoothly (but that story for a different post), and over the course of one morning, Lance made the transformation into gelding. As he came out of sedation, we reassured him what a good thing this was, that he would soon be able to meet friends, and that his life was really only just beginning.
He saw the farrier, who complimented him on his bravery and softness despite it likely having been multiple years since he’d last had a trim. He began to let other people than his most inner circle catch him, and during his post-gelding cold hoses stood like a champ for the hose’s spray. He has ventured out on (supervised) walks outside of his living quarters, has come into the big indoor arena to work, and has walked into the barn for the first time with hardly a snort. He has had his teeth floated and has come into a stall, and he has grown accustomed to being brushed all over his body.
Lance’s journey at SAFE has really just begun, but he has already learned so much and come so far. We are very excited to continue on this journey with him.