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A Real Shy Guy

I got a call one afternoon asking me about taking in an Arabian Gelding. I was told that he had been purchased and was a young stallion at the time of purchase. However as he became of age his new owners did not know how to handle him or what to do with him. He was on the shy side and would not come near them and when he did it intimidated them. We will call his owners Becky and John for this story. They Becky and John decided to take him to a trainer and have him professionally trained since they could not handle him at all. I was told once at the trainers they were told he was unsafe to ride and that he could not be trained. The trainer had used a whip and it scared the young horse so much it went through a fence tearing up his leg. The trainer refused to work with the horse or handle it to repair the damage it had done and the owners did not know how so the horse had a terrible proud flesh cut on his leg about 10 inches long. If I was not willing to take him on they were going to put him down.

This concerned me along with the ideal that maybe they just didn’t know how to handle any horse let alone a stallion. I know so many want that young horse they can raise from a baby with the hopes that it will be a perfect pet. One of the biggest mistakes you can make when getting a horse especially when you have no experience with breaking and training a horse. Plus we are Arabian partial here. So what did I do…I said OK. Bring him in. A couple of days later came this scrawny looking light gray Arab that was almost white…with a few freckles on his albino face. When he got out of the trailer he was filthy, I could not tell when he had his last bath or been groomed if at all. Then I saw his rear left leg…what a mess. I wanted to cry for the sight it brought……this was not going to be easy. And John could not contain the horse very long….so I took the lead and managed to get the horse under a little bit of control; enough to get him down to the barn and in a stall. I was so happy it was the end of summer warm enough to give this piggy a bath.

I could not wait to get this couple off my grounds I just felt terrible that they let him go like this and had to hold my tongue in telling them so. I let Shy Guy sit in a stall for a couple of days while we got acquainted. During this time I stood and talked to him, tried to coax him to turn around and check me out…but no he was not having it. He lived up to his name so far…he was quite the Shy Guy.

By the weekend I decided it was going to be bath time….weathered he liked it or not. All I can say is that he didn’t. I am not sure which one of us was the wettest when it was all done but I did managed to get his clean…and his mane and tail braided it. A struggle but well worth it he already improved with just a one shot deal.

Monday morning the Vet came out and we agreed to cut the proud flesh off the leg entirely. She sedated him and began to work on his leg. By the time she was finished it was bandaged and totally flat once again. Now would be the tricky part in keeping it clean and raw until it healed from the inside out. I could just see myself being stomped and reared on by this young horse. This was not going to be a one woman’s job…I would have to call upon a little help. The problem was there was really not anyone there to help me at the time; all the grandkids were in school.

I decided bright and early Tuesday morning after feeding that I would start from the ground up and teach Shy some manners. I put a halter on him not without a hassle…he would spin in the stall for quite a while…good thing he did not intimidate me. I got him to the round pen and we started with walk stop, walk stop…hehehe….for sure no one taught him this lesson. By the end of day one he was walking and stopping and I can’t say it was all that hard to teach him. A few jerks on the lead rope and he picked it right up. Not wanting to overdo it I left it at that for the first day. Wednesday he was a little easier to halter and he remembered his walk stop to the round pen quite well. I was smiling at his accomplishment his first day and so we moved up to a lounge line on this second day. I have to tell you by the end of the week…he was doing fine.

It was time to change the bandage for the first time. I put him in cross ties and as I squat to cut his bandage off he stood right there and turned his head to watch me. He barely moved that was until I put the solution and water on it to scrub it then he tried to kick me, bite me, dance away from me and every other kind of movement he could do to avoid me getting at it. Me being the expert (hehe) I was not about to let that happen I managed to move quickly and dodge his abuse and still get at his leg…using a light brush to scrub it until it bleed, then re-bandaged it to look good as new. Now this became our routine every other day along with daily training. After that first day he never bit at me again, he never kicked out at me again but he had this strange way of lifting his leg up sideways in the air trying to stretch it away from me. I would just hang on and keep scrubbing it sometimes having to stand on tip toes to reach it. I would have sworn he was double joined at some of the ways he could bend that hip and leg.

By November he was no longer shy; he knew the routine and met me at the stall door. I think he enjoyed the attention he got in the round pen and especially the attention he received afterward. A good brushing goes along way with attitude and with looks. I thought he was extremely cute with his little chiseled face and with the weight he put on he was filling out. I kind of liked him from the get go. The leg took me almost six months to heal totally but you could not see a scar at all once his hair grew back in. Now flesh showing I was proud of myself and him for withstanding the torture of me scrubbing that leg so much. During this time a couple of the volunteers took a liking to Shy Guy and decided to help out. They loved to get him out and groom him. By the following spring he had his own little fan club with me taking care of him during the week and his girls one the weekend. Once his leg healed we were able to turn him out with other horses…here he showed a little shyness toward the herd. He was low man on the totem pole but not for long, he decided low man was not a good spot so Shy managed to hook up with a couple of the more aggressive mares and make his way up the pole to mid range. Here is where he stayed for the next couple of years. He was put on the back burner mostly because of his age and the amount of horses that needed help more than he did. After two long years of playing around and just enjoying life we decided it was time to pick up his training and get him adopted out into a home that would appreciate him.

Conclusion: People should not be buying horses that they cannot take care of nor have the knowledge to handle. Trainers should not call themselves trainers if they cannot train horses. And every horse deserves a chance to be the very best they can be along with live a quality life without threat of death and harm.

Joanna