The horse world, like any group, is not immune to petty bickering and arguments over feeding, handling, training, riding, vetting, and a host of other things. Folks can pick a fight over almost anything horse related.
And sometimes we do. Although I’d venture a guess that, unless we feel a horse is in danger because of his owner’s choice, we engage less often than some others. Of course, a lot also depends on how well you know the person in question.
For instance, a few months ago, and old friend called me and told me her new horse dumped her when it spooked. After I got done laughing at her—because that’s what old horse people do—I asked what happened and if she was okay. And she was. But she agreed that we just don’t bounce like we used to . . .
I certainly wouldn’t laugh at someone I barely know, particularly online where such things can be taken the wrong way. And far, far.
On the other hand, I’m not against voicing my opinion on people such as Karen Sussman who neglected nearly all 907 of the Hallelujah Horses. Many of my friends, fellow adopters, are facing serious health issues with their mustangs due to exactly Karen’s neglect. Why the state of South Dakota allowed her to EVER keep ANY horses is beyond me. And again, far, far.
I’ve been extremely fortunate in that area. My horses were all wormy, but that was easily fixed within a month of their respective arrivals. My “new girl” hadn’t had that done at her first home, which, to me, was irresponsible; neither had her feet been attended to, nor her diet properly adjusted.
Now, that last, her diet, is a matter of opinion in most instances. She wasn’t starved, but she was fed, in my own opinion and based on studies, junk food. While it may have filled her up, she wasn’t getting the nutrition she needed to come back from lack of food in South Dakota—although she’d had plenty of hay since she was removed from that so-called sanctuary, she really needed a boost of nutrients. Particularly since she was in foal.
Not all the Hallelujah Horses are on grain in their new homes, and I’m sure they’re doing fine. A lot depends on the horse itself. For me, I chose a high-protein feed, starting them with a handful and working up over a period of weeks to the right amount for their ideal weights.
Which brings me to an argument . . .
As I said, most horse people just chill when it comes to others’ opinions on care and feeding, unless the horse appears to be in danger, but some . . . some just don’t know when to shut it.
You’ve probably seen that cute video of little Trinket taking over her mom’s bucket. Well, one gal flat-out told me the foal was colicking and I was giving the mare way too much grain. She knew this because she’d raised foals and—wait for it—her DAD was a veterinarian.
Who knew that was how one became a vet? Because a parent went to college and vet school and practiced vet medicine. Yeah, right. But, wow, her diagnostic skills were off the chart—she could apparently tell my foal was colicking because she watched her roll on the ground for about 20 seconds of a 90-second video. She’s gonna make a lot of money, huh? Giving her opinions and all—oh, wait. Never mind.
Yeah, it kinda ticked me off. I could have been super-snarky and all, but I don’t think I even mentioned her dad. I did say that it wasn’t that difficult to tell the difference between a foal playing and one in pain with colic . . . especially in a very short video.
Out of 39,000 views, I received two negative comments. Two. The other had to do with grain giving the foal an ulcer. Sheesh. Foals start tasting Mom’s breakfast between 10-14 days old; little Trinket is an overachiever, of course.
I’ve had a few people ask when I was going to put a halter on little Trinket; some said they’d have done it the first day.
Yes. And some mares aren’t Charm, who isn’t fully gentled. For all I knew, she was going to mow me down if I came near that baby on the first day.
She didn’t, of course; after all, I’m the bringer of food. But I was also careful not to give her a reason to come after me with teeth or hooves—I never even got between her and the baby for the first week. I let Trinket taste my hand the first day and touched her soft, fuzzy coat, and I talked to her. Heck, I talked to her before she was born, just like human moms do with their babies. Trinket was a bit shy, but definitely not afraid of me; sure, she’d jump at a sudden movement or a new noise, but that’s expected.
She’s met her halter, tasted it, chewed on it, felt it on her body. But mostly I use my hands, and now, in the last few days, a soft brush and a curry comb, very gently. Since she’s now two weeks old, I’ve started pressure and release, making her stand still, and teaching her to come to me when I call her. She’ll have her halter on—probably in the next week but, like with my others, I’m in no rush. I’d much rather go slow and easy and do it right than have to undo or redo a mistake.
Less than a year ago, my mustangs were starving and neglected and completely wild. Well, I still think Nickel was a ringer they picked up along the way down here—she walked right up to me the first morning.
Today, they’re familiar with a barn and will go right into their stalls; they come to when I whistle, or sometimes just when they see me. They’re all at good weights, free of worms, eat high-protein grain twice a day and good hay three times daily. They have mineral/salt blocks for whenever they get the urge to indulge. They have a nice grass pasture, seasonal for now, that they spend time in on a regular basis. All their feet are in perfect condition but, while they do get biotin in their feed, I can’t take much credit: our rocky ground takes care of them naturally.
The younger ones will stand for grooming and can be haltered and lead. The mare who still can’t be touched—okay, today I laid a finger on her ear for a solid second—will stand for 30 minutes, listening to and watching me. She’ll take cookies out of my hand, trying super hard not to actually touch that hand and usually succeeding. But if I need help moving the herd from one spot to another, I can call her name and she’ll handle it for me.
Wouldn’t believe that except I’ve seen it—half a dozen times, at least.
The other older mare who ducks her head no matter which way you approach her will finally let me stroke her cheeks, and her face and ears. Big progress in, yes, three months.
Seems like a long time, but I work at their own paces, not mine. If you know me at all, you know I have zero patience for almost anything. This is certainly an adventure!