We’ve all seen the photos of the skinny lethargic horses, and those horses DO need all of our help. What is often forgotten though is the reason that many of those animals ended up in bad situations is because they had little/no/abusive training. A fearful horse is usually EXCEEDINGLY difficult to re-home or sell, so they are often given away, ran through auctions, or repeatedly re-homed with dishonest claims.
To truly rescue a horse, the real work begins after the physical rehabilitation. This is when we start their mental rehabilitation. Our trainers spend SO many hours with these horses doing groundwork to focus on teaching them to relax and look to humans as a trusted leader. Training rescue horses is not an easy gig.
We have realized that we need to separate “taming” from “training”. If we say a horse has been in training for 60 days people envision a horse starting under saddle. In reality, when we get in a 12 year old horse that has never been touched, or has not been touched in 10 years, that first 60 days may be spent getting a horse to a point where it is relaxed when being touched, haltered and can be safely led. This is the time I personally find the most rewarding. Watching a horse go from being tense and terrified to relaxed and trusting warms my heart. I know that that horse will now have a MUCH higher chance for a good life. So many more doors have just opened up to them.
After the initial taming, they will go onto training. Things are still not quite “normal”, as we often encounter additional quirks not normally seen in well handled horses, but we can usually work through them with time. The goal is to adopt out a horse that is safe, relaxed and a good partner. This helps keep them safe for the rest of their lives. After all, that is the point of rescue AND good horse ownership.
Here are a few of the horses that we currently have in training. Two of these came to us at the age of 8+ having never been separated from their moms. One was only ever used as a broodmare and started out nervous and herd bound. Two came to us as stallions, one not even halter broke and the other locked in a stall for most of his life. One was a wild feral filly, skinny and untouched.
If we do our job well, no one will ever guess that any of these horses started out with such disadvantages. If we rescue well, they will be safe, loved and make amazing horse partners.
Sound Equine Options (SEO) was founded in 2009 to assist the growing number of neglected and abused horses in our community. Our mission is to save the lives of horses through support, education, rehabilitation, training and adoption.
A licensed rescue focusing on ending the cycle of abuse, neglect, abandonment and suffering for local horses, SEO assists with law enforcement cases, often in partnership with Oregon Humane Society.