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by Downunder Horsemanship

Training Tip: Handling an Abused Horse

Question: My 16-year-old grandson bought a horse that was previously owned by a young girl who used him in eventing and for trail riding. She boarded him while she was in college, and while at that barn he was abused, being beaten by a stable hand every day for six months. This horse is very timid around people now. He is not mean at all, just not trusting. I worry my grandson will get hurt if the horse panics. – pattijess

Clinton’s Answer: The best thing your grandson can do is to start the Fundamentals level of the Method with his horse, or, if he’s not an experienced hand, send the horse to a trainer who uses the Method. Making excuses or special allowances for an abused horse’s behavior will only limit him, while treating him the same as any other horse will accelerate his progress. No matter what sort of horse I get in for training—a colt, a problem horse or a horse that’s been mistreated—I train them all the same. And I start all horse’s training with the Fundamentals. The Fundamentals groundwork and riding exercises will gain your horse’s respect and trust and help you get control of his feet. At the same time, the exercises are designed to teach you to be a trustworthy, respected leader for your horse. If your grandson’s horse is spooky, the desensitizing exercises, where you teach the horse to stand still and relax while you apply pressure, will greatly benefit him. When you stop thinking of this horse’s past and focus on teaching him to be a safe, respectful partner, you’ll make a lot of progress.

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