“Do I need to treat my rescue horse any different after I adopt them because of all they have been through?”
What Applies to any horse, applies to a rescue horse, by and large so the answer to that is both “yes” and “no”.
The HOP rescue horses have been evaluated by our team members. Often, when the need has been there, HOP volunteers have put many hours of work into them.
Sometimes the horses in our care come to us with a great deal of training, sometimes just knowing the basics and some needing to start from scratch. But many horse owners do not take the time or make the effort to make sure that they have a mannerly equine friend and often this lack of partnership is what leads them to be in crisis in the first place.
Our organization has learned to tailor our methods to suit the needs of each horse, be it moving the horse to a certain training facility that we know is well suited to the horse in question, or to a foster barn with one volunteer who will be a compatible teacher.
All horses, whether they are rescue horses or otherwise, have expectations of the people around them. They expect that we feed them adequately, provide them shelter, and supply them with water. What most people fail to realize is that horses have a fourth expectation. That forgotten or unknown expectation is that their two legged friends will be good and effective leaders.
In the absence of good leadership, chaos will reign and this IS true in the horse world.
Being a good leader for your new 4-legged friend means that you will continue the good habits we have started. You will require respect and good manners from your adopted horse. Your horse will stay a good citizen if you do these things. If you do not become the leader, you will soon find that you do not enjoy your horse nearly as much as you used to.
DO NOT BABY YOUR RESCUE HORSE, PLEASE.
Your adopted horse has come to you with a history. Most often in our rescue their history is that they have been starved, though we have ones that have been beaten, locked away or broke very, very unkindly.
Horses have an amazing capacity to live in the here and now most of the time.
Sometimes, we have one that retains some of the memories of the bad situation they have come from.
These memories may make them overly anxious about when the food is coming or defensive of their food bowl.
Or these memories might make them leery of you raising your hand very fast.
Or perhaps your horse has a scar that may still need something applied to it to keep it supple.
Or your rescue horse may not be finished with its training under saddle. Meaning it may not stay on the rail well or it may not have a good canter cue.
The point is, if your Heart of Phoenix horse comes to you with some residual memories of their past or some special need, we will let you know those things upfront. Many do not experience these problems, but a little leadership and understanding towards those who do makes dealing with these bad memories fairly straightforward.
We ALL feel sorry for the horses that come to us in such dire straits. The majority of them come from horrific situations or in horrible condition. But what we ALL must be careful not to do, is to expect less from them than any other horse. Doing so would be a great disservice to them.
All horses require some tuning from time to time. If your horse (whether rescued or not) is exhibiting bad behaviors that he/she did not come to you with, please ask for help from someone who has more skills then you. In that way you will help to insure that you and your horse have a lifetime long partnership.
ALL of your Heart of Phoenix volunteers, the 390 plus horses that have been rescued by HOP up to now, and all those that will pass through our barn doors in the future!