What I am going to say might hit you a little bit, if you read it to the very end.
While horses do not plot mischief, revenge or nefarious schemes (they don’t plan to be naughty on a day you really need solid or think about scraping you off on a certain tree on the trail), they do have opinions, likes and dislikes.
As a result, they might be labeled as “a bad horse” because the human fails to be fair in recognizing the what the horse enjoys or doesn’t.
Several years ago, I rescued a beautiful paint pony who just looked like she should be in an English show ring. In fact, that is exactly what this pony had been specifically bred to be. When her owners started trying to show her, she made it apparent she hated every single thing about the show pony life. She was very poorly behaved in the ring, and she ended up in a mess at an awful horse trader place….stuffed in a stall with 4 others, manure up to her hocks, and not able to raise her head with the low ceiling.
We pulled her out of there and after weaning her foal (yes, she was bred in that place), she was a LOVELY, willing, brave trail pony. She has since been adopted and is quite happy. She found a person who wanted a trailer partner. They are happy together.
Had she been forced to continue in the show life, I have no doubt she would have become quite a wretched, even dangerous pony.
What happens often is that we march into these guys bedrooms (stall or pasture), and we say, “hey, you are going to work right now, for 4 hours today, toting kids!” We throw their clothes on them (tack), we jerk their belts up as tight as we can, often right from the start (girths), and we make them do the job we tell them to do. We don’t pause to consider if they are suited to the particular job.
Now, of course, we cannot consult with our horses about what time they prefer to get their day started or whether they like that color of saddle, but we owe it to them to make sure we do these things in an unhurried, steady manner, with patience and attention to the little details that make their working day more comfortable.
More importantly, perhaps, is if they make it plain that they absolutely hate whatever job you have in mind for them, we understand that does not mean they are a bad horse. I love being a teacher; I’d hate to be a truck driver. Does that make me awful? Of course not.
But this is maybe one of the top reasons horses wind up needing rescued. They weren’t a good fit for a job and someone labels them as “bad.”
What we want you to realize is that raising horses is quite a bit like raising children.
They are all different and have their likes, dislikes, opinions, talents and quirks.
If you give them the same grace that most of us give to humanity and recognize these things, then we will understand that there IS a job out there that most horses will happily and steadily do if you handle the fairly and with good horsemanship. It just may not be the one you have in mind. Allow for that, please.
That is why Adoption is Such a Great Option! Many times rescues have already identified what job the equine shows preference for, or which talents a horse might be good at.