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 realized my new project horse—the one who’d been deemed dangerous and left in the field at a horse rescue—needed to be re-started from the beginning. I decided to begin with his name. Bailey didn’t fit this strapping 16-hand draft cross. So, I decided to call him Banjo, because I knew deep down he was just a “down home” kind of horse.
After our exciting first ride that left me with a sore behind, I knew we needed to develop mutual trust. He’d obviously not found humans trustworthy in his life, and his fear created dangerous behavior.
And boy, was he afraid of everything! The halter, the rope, the brush, the barn, the people, and me! He wouldn’t even eat if I was standing near him. And he definitely wouldn’t take treats!
We worked on catching and haltering first; he was so fearful, he was difficult to catch. It took a lot of moving him around his 200ft pen.
Banjo eventually learned that if he wanted to stop moving, he’d have to just allow me to approach. When he did, I offered him peace and safety. I wanted to teach him that I could always provide that for him.
I did light ground work with him on a 12 foot lead line. We spent hours just being together as we slowly explored the barn and stable grounds.
After several days of working with him outdoors, I decided to lead him in to the indoor arena. He was terrified! He bowed himself up to his full height, danced on his toes, and snorted and ran around me in circles. I didn’t want to try to stop him from moving, because all his survival instincts were telling him to run. Instead, I wanted to work with his natural energy.
I stayed calm, talked softly, and asked for continuous changes of direction on the lead hope. By asking Banjo to slow down and move his feet, he had to start focusing on his body, rather than his fears. This allowed him to realize I was there and nothing was actually attacking him.
After several minutes, he slowed to the walk. He did still stay on alert, but at least he wasn’t the snorting dragon from before.
Experiences like these where how I starting teaching Banjo that he could trust me through my calm presence and consistency of my movements.
We earn our horses’ trust through patience, timing, love, and consistency.
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 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.