Oscar, if you recall, was returned to SAFE by his adopter, having regressed a great deal from the horse he was behavior-wise when he was adopted. After his return, we started noticing some lameness in his front right leg. Dr King of Pilchuck Veterinary Hospital donated her time to perform a lameness exam on Oscar and since his x‑rays were clean, it was determined that some kind of soft tissue injury was causing the lameness. The decision was made to give Oscar 6 months off work. He spent the majority of that time with Helga Roberts at Dutch Mills Farm, and was recently moved to the care of Melonie Rainey at White Birch Farm for fostering and training. Oscar’s rehab time is complete and he’s now being started back into work. Here is an update from Melonie:
“Day 1 of actually sitting in the saddle on Oscar’s back was what I consider a HUGE success. Trust was built and appreciated on both sides. The first time Oscar was in my care, he was truly a solid citizen. He had just come out of several months of training with Andrea and the training was perfection and I had no issues with Oscar whatsoever. He was adopted out quickly.
I was quite disappointed to hear that he returned to SAFE with several issues, to include bucking under saddle. I have been considering whether this was a direction I really wanted to go, bringing him back from rehab, taking on possible training issues, considering I am no longer a spring chicken and just can’t risk spraining a finger, much less anything else, really not a wise move for me. But…I can’t forget how good he was the first time around. “Okay,” I said to myself, “just see how it goes, see how he behaves.”
He definitely exhibited some ground manners that I did not remember first time around. They are no more. He exhibited some kicking out on the lunge line that I didn’t remember. They are no more so it seems. He has settled in. We have had bridle issues, nothing seems to fit. Finally found something that isn’t perfect, but fits reasonably well, just need to punch in a few more holes here and there, but it’ll do. Anyway, tonight was the first night I lunged with the bridle. I was thinking to myself, “Will you get on tonight? You don’t have to, it’s perfectly fine to continue his training on the lunge.” “Okay,” I said, “just see how it goes, you’ve got him all tacked up if this goes well.” “It’s dark out,” I said to myself, “I wonder how he’ll behave?” Let me say first off, he performed the halt, walk, trot and canter via voice commands…every time. No bucking or kicking out.
I decided to just put my weight in the stirrup and see how he behaved. Didn’t flinch. I did it again. Stood straight up in the saddle. Nothing. “That’s it,” I decided, “I’m getting on. I’m feeling good vibes. We’ll just walk.” I got on and the stirrups were WAY too short. That could have been a disaster if he decided to ditch me. I got off, lengthened the stirrups. Still a solid citizen. Got back on, took off walking, he was attentive. “I can’t stand it,” I thought, “you have to trot. Just see how he behaves. You’ve got this.” We trotted. Not a lot, but we went around, we reacquainted ourselves with each other, and it was a good thing. I forgot what a smooth trot he has…and kind of a big trot for a little horse. Oscar waited for my direction, listened attentively, no head shaking, no threatening anything, nothing. I truly consider it a win of a first day back in the saddle. We are off to a good start.
Another thing of note, just a little something I have noticed, is how kind he is to dogs. My new dog, Ebony, challenged him one day out in the pasture. She is new around here and didn’t know what she was up against. After all, she was eating horse poop, probably his poop, and it was her’s. She told Oscar to back away and I thought for sure he was going to strike her. I didn’t know how he would behave and she was very vulnerable out in the middle of the pasture without knowing it. Didn’t happen. We also cross through Oscar’s pasture every day to walk down to the barn. He always greets us and NEVER chases the dogs. Tonight in the arena, Ebony sat down in the middle of our lunge circle, Oscar was heading straight for her, she didn’t know what to do, so she froze, he stopped and went around. Kind horse. Just a fact. It’s all about love and good treatment and I do believe he’ll give you the world.”