People may not realize all the little things our horses need to learn before they can be considered ready for adoption. Some come in with little to no domestic life skills while others have troubles due to frustration and misunderstanding that humans created. These are things that the general horse owner may take for granted. These are simple things horses need to be willing to do for just day to day life as a domestic horse. Three major check offs that Jacob recently marked off his list were: standing tied, getting a bath and loading safely into a trailer.
It may sound very basic, however these are huge accomplishments that Jacob and his handler should be congratulated on achieving. The funny thing about all three… only about 10% of the effort was needed to accomplish the event itself. Why is that you ask? Because all the work was done in the preparation. It is the groundwork foundation that Jacob has been receiving at SAFE that made all three of these happen easily and without trouble.
These three are major milestones and very important for horses to accomplish before they are adopted. It is small things like this that can make the difference in how successful a horse is in their adoption placement. Skills like these follow them their entire lives and can play an important role in keeping them safe. People don’t want “problem” horses and those that lack basic skills can be sold and given up on time and time again by humans. It may take a bit more effort and time at SAFE while they get this key foundation but without these skills horses would be vulnerable to losing their homes in the future if they can’t get along with simple domestic norms.
People forget to work on the whole horse and prepare them for any challenges in the future. Some are in such a rush to ride them and send them out in the world that they miss things and leave big holes in the horse’s foundation. They might even get by with “surface working” the horse and leaving trouble in them. When they have issues with the farrier or trailer loading they think the horse is acting up but they never dealt with the core basics.
Lessons learned the hard way: A very sad call came into SAFE not that long ago. A person had gotten a horse about 6 or so months ago and hadn’t been able to ride it all winter. They decided out of the blue to take the horse out for a trail ride. They had done no work with the horse since buying it and thought it would be a good idea to just load up all the gear and go. Well the horse was loaded and completely had a melt down panic in the trailer. They told us it was a miracle they were able to get the horse out of there alive. Sadly, they were calling to ask us to take the horse. Zero time or effort had gone into building a relationship with the horse and preparing them to handle things as simple as trailering. And now the horse is losing a home and yet again being sent down the road as someone else’s “problem horse”.
We know the foundation stuff isn’t exciting or maybe even the “fun” part of owning horses, although we know a barn full of volunteers at SAFE that would beg to differ, but it is vital to the long term safety of the horse’s life. It doesn’t take that much effort or time to chip away at it but don’t leave issues under the surface. You might just find that a few minutes spent on proper leading, and things like trailer loading become a piece of cake!