Rescue Report: The Story of Max

Max thinking of his next trick.

I’ve found that, like people, every horse has its own distinct personality. Take Max, my second project horse from Colorado Horse Rescue.

Max was a 5-year-old, solid-black Quarter Horse. He was also one of the smartest horses I’ve ever met. He wasn’t afraid of anything. He also had a mischievous side. He was joker. But this equine comic had a dark side.
Max was similar to my own rescue horse, Banjo, whom I’d already adopted and re-trained by the time I’d started working with Max. The two were similar in that they’d both been deemed dangerous horses.
At that time, Banjo was a beginner eventing horse, as well as my trusted companion. Now, I’ll tell you Max’s story.
Max was at the horse rescue because he’d injured one of his original owners. Both owners were subsequently scared of Max and wanted the horse rescue to find him a home.
Max’s original owners were well-intentioned, but inexperienced, horsepeople. Max was their first horse; they’d purchased him as a youngster with the hope of training him. That plan didn’t turn out well. Unfortunately, this often happens.
This set of circumstances reminds me of the saying: “Green-on-green makes black and blue.”
That is, an inexperienced person with an inexperienced/ untrained horse will get a lot of bruises. And that’s if the person is lucky. A green rider on a green horse could easily end up with broken bones.
These green-on-green matches are also unfortunate for the horse, which often learns inappropriate behavior from the start. Such a horse can become unruly or even dangerous. Many of these horses wind up at rescues or auctions. Like Max.
Once Max arrived at the horse rescue, he was turned out to pasture with the other horses. As I mentioned, Max was smart. Smart horses with nothing to do but hang out in the pasture often get into trouble. So, it’s not surprising that Max found a way to amuse himself.
Max’s idea of fun was to bite and scare unsuspecting volunteers. According to rescue staff, he’d approach people looking friendly and inviting. Once the person began to pet him, he’d bite a shoulder or hand!
Max had so much fun with the biting that he advanced to more aggressive behavior, such as striking out and charging.
How were Banjo and I going to turn this guy around? I thought. Were my usual techniques of patience and love going to work with this character?
Stay tuned for The Story of Max, Part II.


A-Home-For-Every-Horse

If you want more information on rescue horses or you want to locate a rescue near you, please check out AHomeForEveryHorse.com. Equine.com and the Active Interest Media Equine Network have joined forces with the American Horse Council’s Unwanted Horse Coalition to launch A Home for Every Horse Project.

This project helps find homes for America’s 170,000 to 200,000 horses in need of care and shelter.
Here’s how it works:
• Begin the search for your next equine partner atAHomeForEveryHorse.com. You can search horses waiting for homes at nonprofit shelters across the country. Browse by rescue horse, or find rescue organizations in your area.

• Visit the site’s “Services” section to learn about your local rescue organizations. Find out how you can volunteer, donate, or simply spread the word.

• Look for upcoming stories on EquiSearch.com related to horse rescue.

If your 501(c)(3) rescue organization would like to join the Home For Every Horse Project, call (866) 467-7323, ext. 100. Equine.com is a part of Active Interest Media Equine Network.

Late-Winter Blues

Banjo has just enjoyed a nice mud bath.

Here at the end of winter, with spring right around the corner, I’m getting the itch to ride.

Banjo, my rehabilitated rescue horse, starts shedding every January. I dream of giving him a cleansing bath, then riding into the warm sunshine on dry footing.
But here in Tennessee, the cold, rainy, snowy days are dragging on, and the mud will not go away.

When I lived in Colorado, I boarded Banjo at a place with a nice, warm, indoor arena. But as my work with the rescue horses increased, I moved Banjo to a facility closer to the rescue. There were huge pastures, but no indoor arena. This meant I had to come to terms with letting Mother Nature dictate my riding schedule.

I thought perhaps that as a side benefit to my move to the South, the winter weather would allow for more outdoor riding. However, I didn’t count on so much rain and mud. It’s such a contrast to Colorado’s dry climate.

But Mother Nature still holds my fate in her hands. Every morning, when I get up and boot up the computer, my first stop is the National Weather Service. I hold my breath and check the latest weather report.

Come on weather person, tell me what I want to hear! Give me some warm temperatures, maybe a little sunshine. I want to ride my horse today!

The meteorologist’s report can make me smile and rush around for my riding clothes—or make me sigh and grab my long johns and raincoat.

When I can’t ride, I use the time to groom Banjo or just hang out with him. I’ve found that it’s important to just spend time without expecting anything from him. Being together with no expectations fosters a different kind of friendship. You just enjoy each other’s company.

The rest of the year, we’re almost always carrying a saddle saying, “Let’s go!” to our horses.

As I wait for Mother Nature to give me that sunny day, I’m thankful for the quiet times spent just standing with my sweet horse.

A-Home-For-Every-HorseIf you want more information on rescue horses or you want to locate a rescue near you, please check out AHomeForEveryHorse.com. Equine.com and the Active Interest Media Equine Network have joined forces with the American Horse Council’s Unwanted Horse Coalition to launch A Home for Every Horse Project.

This project helps find homes for America’s 170,000 to 200,000 horses in need of care and shelter.
Here’s how it works:
• Begin the search for your next equine partner atAHomeForEveryHorse.com. You can search horses waiting for homes at nonprofit shelters across the country. Browse by rescue horse, or find rescue organizations in your area.

• Visit the site’s “Services” section to learn about your local rescue organizations. Find out how you can volunteer, donate, or simply spread the word.

• Look for upcoming stories on EquiSearch.com related to horse rescue.

If your 501(c)(3) rescue organization would like to join the Home For Every Horse Project, call (866) 467-7323, ext. 100. Equine.com is a part of Active Interest Media Equine Network.

The Rescue-Horse Transformation

Killian-thI work with rescue horses, because I enjoy the transformational journey that takes place in the horse.

At first glance, a rescue horse may look dirty, scared, unhealthy, and worthless. But I’ve found that underneath the disheveled appearance beats a heart that’s still willing to love. The horse just has to be shown how to trust again.

My own rescue horse, Banjo, doesn’t at all resemble the horse I met years ago, inside or out. That scared, dirty, dangerous horse is now my trusty best friend.

When I met Killian, a horse taken in by Colorado Horse Rescue, I was struck by his physique as well as his beauty. He’s a tall, solid-red chestnut. And underneath that beauty was a horse who wanted a partner—a friend he could trust.

He’d been donated to the rescue because he wasn’t suited for the level of competition his owner had chosen. This happens frequently. When a horse fails to meet the demand of his owner’s chosen discipline, he’s discarded.

I often wonder how it feels for these horses to go through the process of moving from an upscale show barn to a horse rescue. Such a drastic change. Not just the physical shift, but that slip out of the limelight. Once the owners’ primary focus, they’re now cast off.

And the former show horses are the lucky ones. What about the truly abused horses?

But a horse’s heart is an amazing thing. I’m always moved by the horse’s ability to show up and try, even after being mistreated, starved, beaten, neglected, and discarded by humans.

Killian had been left at the rescue untouched for years, mostly because of his nervous, forward under-saddle style. This horse was just waiting for someone to take the time to help him.

With patience, love, and consistency, he blossomed. He changed from a high-strung animal to one who’s relaxed, even gentle.

Banjo helped to ground Killian. He provided a calming influence. He’s good at that.

Killian transformed into a solid, trustworthy, gentle horse. As soon as he completed his transformation, he was adopted out as a young rider’s first horse.

I love the journey, the transformation, the conversion from fear to love.

(For more rescue-horse success stories, go to http://www.equisearch.com/a-home-for-every-horse/rescue-success-stories.)


A-Home-For-Every-Horse

If you want more information on rescue horses or you want to locate a rescue near you, please check out AHomeForEveryHorse.com. Equine.com and the Active Interest Media Equine Network have joined forces with the American Horse Council’s Unwanted Horse Coalition to launch A Home for Every Horse Project.

This project helps find homes for America’s 170,000 to 200,000 horses in need of care and shelter.
Here’s how it works:
• Begin the search for your next equine partner atAHomeForEveryHorse.com. You can search horses waiting for homes at nonprofit shelters across the country. Browse by rescue horse, or find rescue organizations in your area.

• Visit the site’s “Services” section to learn about your local rescue organizations. Find out how you can volunteer, donate, or simply spread the word.

• Look for upcoming stories on EquiSearch.com related to horse rescue.

If your 501(c)(3) rescue organization would like to join the Home For Every Horse Project, call (866) 467-7323, ext. 100. Equine.com is a part of Active Interest Media Equine Network.

Finding Time to Ride

Banjo patiently waits his turn.

Do you try to balance a job, a horse or two, and a life? Then you know that it can be difficult at times.

Back when I decided to take a break from competition, I took on a “project” horse from Colorado Horse Rescue, a high-strung Thoroughbred named Killian. I already had a full-time job and my other rescue horse, Banjo. Adding another horse doubled my barn time each week.

Fortunately, I was boarding my horses at a wonderful facility that took care of their basic needs. Of course, I went to the barn daily to care for my horses and rode each of them at least four times per week.

My days were packed! Every weekday morning, I’d take a quick shower, dress for work, then pack three bags for the day: lunch, riding clothes, and gym clothes. (I’d often take a short break in the middle of my work day to swim at the local indoor pool.)

After work, I’d drive to the barn, often changing my shoes and pants at stoplights. Anything to save a few minutes. At the barn, I’d saddle up and ride Killian. While he was cooling down, I’d ride Banjo.

Banjo, a Clydesdale cross, always calmed down hot-blooded Killian. Banjo took to his new role well.

After riding Banjo, I’d put Killian back in his run. Then I’d straighten out things in the tack room. At that point, I’d maybe chat with other boarders for a few minutes. Then it was time to put Banjo away and go home.

By the time I’d get home, it was often 8:30 at night. I’d shower, fix something to eat, and fall into bed—only to get up and start again the next day.

I was busy, but also happy. The things horse lovers will do for their beloved friends!

I’ve since done some reading on how to save time at the barn. Here’s one article that has really helped me. Maybe it’ll help you, too! Here’s the link: http://www.equisearch.com/farm_ranch/management/barntime_111405/4/


AHomeForEveryHorse_Mock_Logo

If you want more information on rescue horses or you want to locate a rescue near you, please check out AHomeForEveryHorse.com. Equine.com and the Active Interest Media Equine Network have joined forces with the American Horse Council’s Unwanted Horse Coalition to launch A Home for Every Horse Project.

This project helps find homes for America’s 170,000 to 200,000 horses in need of care and shelter.
Here’s how it works:
• Begin the search for your next equine partner atAHomeForEveryHorse.com. You can search horses waiting for homes at nonprofit shelters across the country. Browse by rescue horse, or find rescue organizations in your area.

• Visit the site’s “Services” section to learn about your local rescue organizations. Find out how you can volunteer, donate, or simply spread the word.

• Look for upcoming stories on EquiSearch.com related to horse rescue.

If your 501(c)(3) rescue organization would like to join the Home For Every Horse Project, call (866) 467-7323, ext. 100. Equine.com is a part of Active Interest Media Equine Network.

Changing Interests

Banjo enjoying some grazing time.

Have you ever been really crazy about one thing? Maybe it’s show jumping, car racing, or pie-eating? It could be anything.

Then you, sort of, lose interest in that one thing? Gradually, it’s just no longer as important.
Life goes on, then you become really interested in something else. Maybe car racing turned into cycling, or pie-eating turned into baking. We lose interest. Or maybe our values change. Sometimes we just can’t physically do it anymore.
For me, eventing competitions turned into working with rescue horses. It started with a realization that I was putting competition before my horse.
I wish I’d heard the wise words of horseman Harry de Leyer back then. He was the owner of Snowman, a slaughterhouse-bound plow horse turned nationally recognized show jumper.
His story was chronicled in The Eighty-Dollar Champion, by Elizabeth Letts. “Winning is never more important than fostering a sense of trust between horse and (wo)man,” de Leyer said.
I’d broken that trust with my rescue horse, Banjo. I’d asked him to do something he wasn’t ready to do. My emotions had gotten in the way. My desire to win caused me to push him too hard.
I wanted something different for both of us.
I know it’s not popular to put the horse first in a world where instant gratification and winning at all costs are common themes. But what’s the point of a victory if the friend who carried you is just pawn in a struggle to be at the top of the heap?
Horses are often traded like baseball cards in the never-ending desire to go faster, jump higher, or ride better.
What is it we are trying to win? To prove? Why is a blue ribbon more important than a life?
I don’t frown on competition. It has its place. When done responsibly, it’s a wonderful outlet for both horse and rider.
For a time, Banjo and I had a blast competing. But I’d gotten too caught up in wanting to win. It was time to start anew.
The shift from competition to working with abused, abandoned, and neglected rescue horses was like coming home. I’m motivated by a desire to make a difference for horses in this world.
I’m glad to return to my roots. For Banjo, this shift in focus means more time to graze. For me, it means more time to mentor my new project horses. I also get to go trail riding more often.
Banjo has thrown his heart into this new direction. Just like he’s always done with everything.


A-Home-For-Every-HorseIf you want more information on rescue horses or you want to locate a rescue near you, please check out AHomeForEveryHorse.com. Equine.com and the Active Interest Media Equine Network have joined forces with the American Horse Council’s Unwanted Horse Coalition to launch A Home for Every Horse Project.
This project helps find homes for America’s 170,000 to 200,000 horses in need of care and shelter.
Here’s how it works:
• Begin the search for your next equine partner atAHomeForEveryHorse.com. You can search horses waiting for homes at nonprofit shelters across the country. Browse by rescue horse, or find rescue organizations in your area.

• Visit the site’s “Services” section to learn about your local rescue organizations. Find out how you can volunteer, donate, or simply spread the word.

• Look for upcoming stories on EquiSearch.com related to horse rescue.

If your 501(c)(3) rescue organization would like to join the Home For Every Horse Project, call (866) 467-7323, ext. 100. Equine.com is a part of Active Interest Media Equine Network.