Cate Lamm, an avid horsewoman, has been a part of Colorado Horse Rescue (www.chr.org) for 10 years. There, she’s served as head of the adoption committee, has acted as general manager and now works as a rehabilitation trainer. Lamm has owned a number of her own rescue horses and has 20 years of equine experience. Based in Longmont, Colorado, she’s also the editorial assistant of The Trail Rider (www.trailridermag.com), sister publication of MyHorseDaily.com.
I had a request from a reader for more information about bonding with rescue horses. I’m happy to talk about this. I have worked with a lot of horses that have lost the ability to trust humans due to neglect and abuse. Banjo is my own horse, but I also have worked with Colorado Horse Rescue for several years and seen some pretty scared and damaged horses.
The most important thing to keep in mind when working with any horse, but especially a horse that may have trust or behavioral issues is to be completely present and aware of the energy you are bringing to the session.
Horses are prey animals and have developed super scenery perception. The emotions we feel change our blood chemistry and even our heart rhythms, horses can sense these subtle changes. So, it is important that you best your best to leave your stress at the gate! Your horse will mirror you and your emotional state, so if you want a calm horse you have to be a calm leader.
Another important tool is to take your time! I know there is a lot of emphasis put on making things happen fast in our world, but I believe working with horses is one place where there should be no agenda. Work with the horse that you have that day, being willing to change your plans if you or your horse are having a bad day.
Banjo really taught me to slow down, he gets very nervous if I am in a hurry. This was an important lesson for me because I spent a lot of my time rushing; from work, to the barn, to the store, rushing everywhere. When I came to work with him I would still be in the same rushed energetic state and he would be spooky and jumpy too.
When I started taking the time to slow down before I started working with him, our lessons were transformed. And do you know what; it felt so good to slow down with him I started slowing down in other areas of my life too!
One of my favorite tools is to spend five minutes before I start working my horses and just stand with them and listening. For what, you may ask? I listen to what is happening inside my body and feeling what is going on in theirs. I run my hands all over their bodies, this is the horses chance them to let me know if something is wrong.
I like to take this time to touch sensitive places like the ears, under the belly and under the tail. If I find resistance here, I take more time to try to figure out what it is and if there is something new going on. If I have resistance at this level, I know there will be resistance in the saddle.
Horses like people have good days and bad days, maybe they got a bite or kick in the pasture, maybe your mare is coming in season maybe your horse has a sore spot. I believe we owe it to them to stop for a minute and just listen. You might find out too that you have some things going on in your own body you need to take a minute to work on.
When you do this with your horse before working, you both start with a clean slate. In this busy life how often do we give ourselves a few minutes to just be! When we are with our horses we often so busy, cleaning, feeding, riding, and doing…..it feels really good to just take a few minutes and appreciate our horse friends! They will reward you for it!
If you want more information on rescue horses or you want to locate a rescue near you, please check outAHomeForEveryHorse.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 at AHomeForEveryHorse.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.