Ep 70 // Best of 2022
Season 4 of The Willing Equine Podcast has been filled with so many wonderful discussions and interviews. I'm so grateful for everyone who joined me as a guest on the podcast, and for the thoughtful conversations that we shared. And of course, thanks to my listeners for following along!
In this episode, we're taking a ride through some of this season's most popular episodes. We hope you enjoy!
4:45 - From Episode 55 // Mistakes As Learning Opportunities 15:59 - From Episode 57 // A New Outlook on Equine Assisted Therapy with Julia Alexander, LCSW 24:22 - From Episode 59 // The Hoof's Impact on Behavior : A Conversation with Alicia Harlov 35:00 - From Episode 60 // Behavioral Medication for Equines with Janna Dewey 43:05 - From Episode 63 // Bringing New Horses Home
[00:00:00] Welcome to season four of The Willing Equine Podcast. The podcast where we chat about all things horses, and being the best horse people we can be for our horses. My name is Adele Shaw. I'm a certified behavior consultant, and my passion is for creating positive relationships between horses and people.
[00:00:28] Okay. Before we go into this episode, I wanted to say a big thank you to all of my listeners and everybody who has participated in offering me suggestions for future episodes that have reached out to me with encouragement or just. Positive reinforcement about the episode. Have listened to the episodes.
[00:00:48] Even if you've never reached out to me or said anything, just listening to the episode, that is a big R plus for me. You know, a little click treat there for me because I can see all the plays for each of the episodes. I appreciate each and every one of you. If this is the first episode you're listening to, I thank you so much for being here, and I hope you take the time to go back and listen to some of my previous.
[00:01:07] Episodes, uh, especially from, well, I mean, I guess just all over the years. I can't remember how many years I've been doing this podcast, to be honest. I should have looked that number up before I started this recording, this episode. But I will say it's been a couple of years now and, uh, we are now on episodes.
[00:01:24] 70. And you know, I've been doing episodes probably every two weeks. We're probably averaging at this point, like every three weeks, and they are a little bit stretched out. Of course, I would love to do more episodes, but you know, only so many hours in the day and I don't get paid to do this podcast. This is totally something that I do because I love doing it and I wanna share information to you with you guys.
[00:01:45] Uh, I don't have. , um, sponsors or ads or anything right now? At least not in the last year and a half or two years, and I just. Very much do this out of just wanting to share with you guys and wanting to be able to, um, get information out there. And thank you so much for everybody who shares my episodes that shares any of the information with their friends, their family, other people at the barn, their vets, anybody.
[00:02:12] Thank you so much for sharing. I really appreciate that it bumps up the plays and also just keeps spreading this information and keeps helping change the horse world for the better and just gets the conversation going. I mean, even if you guys don't agree with everything I say, I know you and I, I'm.
[00:02:28] Absolutely confident that happens on a regular basis, and that's okay. I just want the conversation to be happening and I just want this information to be getting out there and circulating and drumming up conversation and getting people thinking and changing and, and reevaluating what we do on a daily basis with our horses.
[00:02:46] This is so important to me and that's what I do, or why I do what I. and, um, the podcast is just one way that I help encourage that and facilitate that. So, thank you guys so much. This is the last episode for 2022, our seven 70th episode. Um, I'm very excited to share this as it's gonna be a recap episode, so we're gonna be sharing some highlighted moments through the past year of episodes.
[00:03:13] Um, it's gonna be really cool. It's gonna be the first time I'm doing this. . And so I hope you will find it enjoyable and can be intrigued enough to go back and listen to some of the episodes where these clips have come from. So just as a precursor, because obviously these episodes are coming or these clips are coming from many different episodes, the audio may change throughout the next, you know, as you play this episode, it may change a little bit.
[00:03:39] So be prepared, uh, with your little volume tab or whatever little. In case we're gonna try and make it as evenly as possible. There may be some times where it's a little bit less clear versus others. There may be clearer audio. Um, my audio recording set up changes episode by episode. So again, not a professional podcaster as far as I don't do this for a living and I do this just out of, uh, something that I love doing.
[00:04:05] And so I hope you guys find this really, um, Just kind of a cool like flashback, a little rewind, so to speak, and going into 2023, it'll set us up. I do not know when 2023 podcast episodes will return. I'm guessing it'll be, um, Probably early spring, maybe before that. I don't know. Honestly, I don't wanna promise anything, but I will be back for 2023.
[00:04:33] We will have more episodes. I will keep going with them and I'm very excited. We'll have all brand new topics and we will just keep going forward. We'll keep talking and keep starting that conversation and thrown around around ideas. And let's see where 2023 takes us.
[00:04:57] The situation was that I needed to take two horses to the vet and I had to haul them into the vet, which is about an hour away. For one of them was a a minor emergency, and the other one things were non minor or non emergencies. But I wanted to haul two horses together. And so it was kind of a, I hate this saying, but two birds, one stone, we could feed two birds, one seed.
[00:05:17] So I, I took this other horse that I had been waiting to pull blood work on for allergies to test for allergies for a long time. I had been waiting for quite a few months because it wasn't an emergency and I didn't wanna call a vet out just for that, because in my area, having vets come to me is very expensive.
[00:05:37] And I didn't wanna haul him to the vet by himself either. And this was Finn, I'm talking about my little mini And he's a really good travel companion. He's very brave and he jumps onto the trailer. He's easy to haul, he's lightweight, like just, he's a good travel companion. So, and he's the one I need the allergy panel on.
[00:05:53] And so I decided to bring him along this trip and get that blood work pulled. Um, while the other horse had some exams, she needed a lameness exam and she also needed a dental exam. So, We, things started off okay. They started off really good. They were all, you know, they were a little bit nervous, but not doing terrible.
[00:06:14] I was able to get, keep them focused on me. They were still doing all their behaviors. Everything was great. They were taking food, which is a sign of, um, not being over a threshold. If they will continue to take food. So that's a really good sign that I look for in my horses as we're doing things. Uh, so I was keeping an eye on them.
[00:06:34] I was keeping an eye on their stress levels and they were stressed cuz we're in a new environment and vet clinics always smell like scared horses and stress and, and sometimes even worse things like death and blood and all of that. So you can imagine it's a very stressful environment for horses and they were doing well, all things considered.
[00:06:50] And so I. Overly worried about it. I knew there was that low level stress that was happening. , but it wasn't, you know, I wasn't concerned that we wouldn't be able to do what I had set out to do. So I, this vet appointment has been scheduled for weeks. It's very expensive. It's very time consuming. I had to block out a whole day to do it.
[00:07:10] I had to find childcare for all three of my kids, which is not easy to do, and also expensive usually. And then just, it's just a whole thing. I have to organize it. It's very complicated. I have to cancel lessons. Not get any online work done or work with the other horses. It's just a whole deal being, um, a working mom and my kids stay with me, they're not in school all day.
[00:07:33] So it's just complicated. And so that's probably was my driving motivator with what came next. Um, cuz I knew it wouldn't be easy to repeat this situation and, you know, I take more scheduling, more money, more all the things and. So we went to go pull blood, which mind you, that Finn has had injections and blood pulled multiple times.
[00:07:57] And while he showed a slight bit of tension, it was never nothing like this time. He has really been very good and has never shown any, uh, significant fear around it, let's put it that way. Well, today went different. He. Started to panic and he started, he eventually went to rearing and he's a mini, so rearing minis should be, that should be a huge alarm.
[00:08:23] Red flag. Obviously, but being considering the size, they are easier to manage when they do start doing that, and it's a little bit less dangerous towards us. It is, however, should be respected, the same as with a full size horse. 100%. I'm a huge advocate for minis and small horses. They should never be manhandled.
[00:08:41] They should never be forced into doing anything, however. Made a bad call and I let the vet and vet techs continue to persist working towards getting his blood. Unfortunately, it was aggravated by the fact that we couldn't find his vein. His furry winter coat is really, really full in, and also minis are notorious for having a harder time.
[00:09:04] Finding their veins. So poor thing. Oh, and also, unfortunately, it, the original person who was pulling his blood was just struggling and learning about the process too. And which I don't hold that against anybody. That's part of becoming a vet is you have to learn and you have to experiment, um, and try things and learn the hard way sometimes.
[00:09:25] And unfortunately, the horse gets to be the, um, gets the short end of the stick there, but, I just, you know, he was really upset. We ended up having to move to twitching him and to get the blood draw. And I, I, part of also, this was, I was dealing with pumpkin at the same time and she was needing to be sedated and going into a shoot.
[00:09:46] And so it was just a lot for me and I was a bit overwhelmed and stressed about the situation. I kind of went into a learned help estate. I was just like not making my best decisions. I'm making the best calls. And he wasn't in like danger, like life-threatening danger. I knew they, they weren't doing anything like super harsh.
[00:10:06] Like it was just, we were just trying to kind of as gently as possible, manhandle him into letting us, uh, pull his blood. So it wasn't great Poin. Got just manhandled, which I have tried very hard for the years. I've had him never to put him in that situation. But I mean, not that full size horses don't get manhandled either.
[00:10:28] I know they do regularly, but minis are very easy to manhandle. So people do it all the time. And then this is part of the reason they get such a bad reputation cause they have to really defend themselves and are pushed over threshold very quickly. So there's just a lot of complicating factors here. A lot of different.
[00:10:45] He survived. He was fine. And this was actually, this was a beautiful part of this, which is that he, as soon as everything was done, we, you know, I gave him some time in his stall and I sat there with him, whatever. And then a little bit later, I, I clipped his lead up back on while cuz pumpkin was sedated and, um, recovering from sedation.
[00:11:03] So we were just kind of waiting and we went and walked around the vet clinic and we did some, we continued with, you know, almost all my hand, oh, let's just put it this way. , every time I interact with my horses, I'm training. So we just continue doing what we normally do and practicing our default behavior, practicing leading, and I was walking him around, letting him investigate things, reinforcing him for investigating things.
[00:11:25] And then we did a little bit of practice with touching his neck almost as if I was gonna give him an injection. And he was fine. He was completely fine and very confident about it. Unfazed at all. Very just chill about the whole thing, so he doesn't hold it against me. , that's good news. It, it's just kind of a bummer though, because looking back, you know, right after it happened or during, you know, during when it was happening, I was kind of in this like, what do I do mindset.
[00:11:51] Usually I would step in and say, okay, let's do it a different time, or give me a few minutes and we'll get it figured out. This time I did not make that call, and honestly, I don't entirely know why I didn't except for the, the things that I mentioned already. And so now kind of in hindsight, I feel very, I feel disappointed in myself.
[00:12:11] I'm not really happy with how I handled the situation. I'm not happy that I didn't step in and advocate for Finn. I'm not. That I didn't just choose the more difficult path for myself and come back a different time. It wasn't an emergency. He didn't have to have the blood work. Today, he has been very uncomfortable with allergy stuff for, well, like over a year now.
[00:12:34] We've been trying a bunch of different medications and different things and it's just not working. So this is why we've gone to doing the blood work. And so, you know, I could have waited. You. Until the next appointment or opted to have the vet come out where he's calm and at home and I can control the environment a little bit more and we're not having trigger stacking happening, which is I think what happened.
[00:12:55] He was already stressed and so whatever mild stress he usually ex. Experiences during, uh, getting shots and blood pools was extremely heightened because it was stacked on top of the stress of already being in that clinical type environment and all the smells and the sounds. And there were horses calling left and right, stressed about, you know, not having their buddies around.
[00:13:16] Thankfully I had pumpkin with me, so they had to, you know, they were together and that was really helpful. I always travel with them together if I can. Not those two specifically. I always travel with companion horses and never just one, unless it's absolutely necessary. So, you know, overall, it's not the end of the world.
[00:13:34] He did not die , he did not have lasting, you know, physical issues or whatever. However, it will put a big knock on. Um, his memory of this event, his understanding of getting shots and injections, I will have to do what a, you know, we're gonna have to do some, um, repair work basically, where we are gonna ha, I'm gonna go back and.
[00:13:59] Really work on getting him comfortable with having injections. Again, I actually think it wasn't so much the injection as it was having multiple people around and the environment and them coming at him. So that's, that's something I've repeatedly seen from him. And this is not so much about what is happening, it's about how many people are around and are they going to f.
[00:14:17] Forced me to do this, and that probably links to his past history with people and just how he's been handled. And so I need to work with him on that. And we're gonna take a cooperative care approach, and this is gonna be my plug for cooperative care training. Absolutely adore cooperative care. It is a fabulous tool that every quest, every horse caregiver, and advocate and everything should be.
[00:14:40] I will be able to teach Finn to voluntarily accept an injection like he will be able to stand essentially at liberty. You may not wanna do it at Liberty for the real thing just in case, but you know, for safety precautions, cuz it is a large needle that's inside their vein. You, but you can teach the horse to line up.
[00:14:57] And voluntarily accept this medical procedure. And you know, for the reinforcement. And this is something that is done with marine animals all the time. It's done with zoo animals. I've seen it with giraffes and zebras and rhinos and tigers, and lions and bears on my, that was lame. So I just wanted to talk about this though.
[00:15:21] because like I mentioned in the beginning, it is so very important that we do prep work as best as we can. So cooperative care for as much as you can, preparing the horse for stressful situations, stressful encounters, or working around vets. It's usually a stressful experience, but also, I wanted to share this because I wanted you guys to know that things like this do happen to me.
[00:15:58] I expand this mentality, this process, this way of engaging with horses. As much of my regular everyday handling as possible, including riding, and I'm sure you guys have been listening for a long time. Understand, you know, I've given lots of examples of this, but uh, for example, I use cooperative more, we could call it, you know, giving them choice and control for the horse and.
[00:16:21] When I'm even asking my horse if they wanna ride. So I teach my horses that if they line up at the mounting block, that's them saying, okay, I'm ready for you to get on. And then I get on. And then I also teach them a way to ask me to get off. So I, we could call this if we wanted to a start button and a kind of a stop button or an opt-in and an opt out kind of option.
[00:16:40] And so I do this without throughout all of my training. And so this is something we've been incorporating with June of Julia's mayor. And, and then this started the discussion. Julie and I have been talking a lot about how can we bring this into the therapy world and into the therapy sessions because, Especially and that, you know, I'm obviously not certified or anything, but it makes so much sense to me and I wanna hear more.
[00:17:05] What Julia would you have to say about it of teaching your, of other people, especially when they're coming from a background where they have trauma and stuff like that. Like this is what choice looks like, this is what respecting another living being looks like. This is. Just cooperative engagement looks like, and where they have choice over the outcome and control over the outcome, and they are actually willingly engaging with us, and they're not trapped into that experience, which to me, you know, just engages like, just doesn't seem to align.
[00:17:38] Like with what you said, with all of what you're trying to, you know, share with your clients. When you were talking about choice and you were talking about, you know, engag. In a safe way and with boundaries and all that with other people. And then we're over here trapping horses in round pens, , and stuff like that.
[00:17:58] So yeah, I definitely wanna hear more about what you have to say about that. Yeah, absolutely. I get so excited about cooperative care. I'm like, you know, I am, I'm still new. I come with a beginner's mind. I wanna learn all the things. I think that, you know, we have so much that we can learn from the animal behavior world around cooperative care and you know, I think that, , well, I'm, I'm gonna use myself as an example.
[00:18:27] If I were to take my, you know, well 30 plus years now of horse experience and, you know, tack it on to my degree and license as a clinical social worker and say, okay, now I can do equine assisted psychotherapy, I believe, and I did bring a lot of my baggage into my. Relationships with horses and clients. I brought in kind of all of my assumptions about horses and how they learn and what they needed.
[00:19:04] in terms of leadership, quote unquote respect, and all of that. So, Cooperative care, I think, asks us within the horse community to really pause and say, what is it that I actually didn't learn? Like, what is it that I don't know? And, you know, I love watching and, and sharing videos of like, like polar bears getting like their teeth examined and like, you know, elephants getting their feet done.
[00:19:31] And this is all like in protected contact. Like no touch, no force. And I'm like, if a polar bear can do it, the the options for our horses are limitless. And so I think it's a hard thing because so many of us in equine facilitated work do it because we have past experience with horses and we love horses, and that's why we do it.
[00:19:58] But because we have a less regulated system, Is less pressure or expectation to continue our learning and to learn about equin mythology, like science-based equine mythology, not the equine mythology that we learned from our Grandpa , for example, who, well, there's. No regulation in the horse training industry either.
[00:20:24] So there's no pressure for us to continue our education either. I cannot tell you how many trainers and that just whatever they wanna call themselves, I run into, and there's, they're just operating off of what they learned from past generations and how they grew up learning. And then this is how we train horses and this is what we do.
[00:20:45] And there's so much more information out there right now, and there's so much progress being made towards improving. Living standards for the horses, for providing their basic needs for op. You know, like creating training programs and processes around how they actually learn, like looking at their. And looking at, you know, the, the lacking prefrontal cortex and like all that.
[00:21:05] We didn't know that. We didn't know that a couple generations ago. So like, and it's still very new information for a lot of trainers out there right now. So it doesn't surprise me that in the therapy world then all of the equine assisted stuff that it's also. Lacking there, but it's about time that the worlds start, both of them start improving and upping their education levels and bringing all of these new like ethics standards to our practices.
[00:21:32] Yes, I a hundred percent agree and it's, it's probably a reflection of the way. Culture gets built. You know, it's like, I think, you know, we, the, my lens is always looking at systems and I get really, you know, excited and passionate about systems and how they operate and why they're there. And you know, if a system is working for us, then oftentimes we.
[00:21:59] We don't have a vested interest in changing it. However, I believe that this system actually isn't working for us and it's not working for the animals that we love either. And so I, I, it felt really important to me to. Humbly say, oh, there's a lot. I don't know. And that's hard, you know, because I think when we do say that or come to that conclusion, there can be a lot of shame that gets kicked up around like, how did I engage in the past with horses?
[00:22:28] Did I hit my horse? Yes. Did I use a whip? Yes. Did I use Spurs? Yes. Did I keep them in a stall for eight hours a day? Yet I did all of those things and to be able to develop some compassion for the parts of myself that didn't know, but also, Some, I guess, enthusiasm about like how I wanna be doing things differently.
[00:22:47] And so I think the cooperative care piece, I mean you can probably attest to this, but June, my sweet, sweet girl is, you know, she is, has a lot of thoughts and feelings and. to be able to give an animal the room to express when they are afraid or uncomfortable or there's some sort of internal conflict is I think, empowering for everyone.
[00:23:14] And it's not easy because it's slow, right? The process like working through feelings is slow. Like that's when a therapist, like I know that in the core of my being, and I think a lot of the times our equine assisted practices are. Suspiciously convenient and I wanna change that. I think that it makes sense to challenge some of that, and I think cooperative care is a really exciting way that, you know, I know you and I are talking about that, like we might be able to slowly start to make an impact on what sessions.
[00:23:49] Could look like with a client. And I feel like that change is really cool and I'm excited for people to do their own exploration, I guess, about cooperative care and, and what that could look like. And having horses be able, or whatever therapy animal you're working with, be able to clearly opt out and say, I know, you know, or walk away or understand very clearly what the consequences will be if they participate.
[00:24:13] Like what is coming next that feels so important.
[00:24:24] And so I'm curious if you have any other examples or cases, you know, obviously you don't need to name names or anything, but just that kind of come to mind or some different behaviors that maybe my listeners could watch out for that may be linked to the hoof problems. Yeah, absolutely. I mean, before we even look at hoof appointments or ferry appointments and the behavior there, which I do have examples of too, when it comes to just seeing your horse in the barn and interacting with your horse, or even, you know, watching your horse in turnout, if I see a horse that's in a herd, And it's the horse that tends to walk when the other horses are trotting.
[00:25:00] Or the horse that's trotting when the other horses are cantering. Um, or the horse who seems lazy or the horse who you know, might be hesitant when you're riding or might, you know, be a kick ride where you, where owners are saying like, oh, I just, you, it's like, . It's like riding a tube, a toothpaste. I have to squeeze them all the time.
[00:25:18] um, these are horses that I, in my first thought, and obviously this is a little bit of, you know, because you know, when you have a hammer, everything's a nail, right? But if people are telling me this, I'm like, oh gosh. Like, do their feet hurt? Um, because I so rarely think that horse behavior is, um, It's, it's so rare that things like that are behavioral.
[00:25:42] I should say, to me, a lot of times it's pain. If a horse is acting in a way that is aggressive, like you were saying, or in a way where they don't seem, um, motivated to do something that maybe they liked to do before, I assume that there's some kind of pain going on and I wanna give them the benefit of the doubt with that.
[00:25:59] Uh, when it comes to hoof care, appoint. If I see a horse that won't pick up its feet or is difficult with picking up its feet, I think a lot of owners assume their horse is quote unquote being bad, or their horse is just not listening or not willing to do it. Um, I assume if a horse won't, you know, pick up its feet when I ask.
[00:26:21] And it has, you know, it knows what I expect of them, and it's. Trained and then passed to pick up its feet. I assume they don't wanna put all of their weight on that opposing foot. So if I go to pick up the left front and the horse is hesitant, I assume maybe their right front hurts. Maybe they don't wanna stand on their right front foot and you know, my.
[00:26:40] Response to that is usually to grab like a surefoot pad or some kind of pad to put on the other foot. If I put a pad under the other foot and they pick up that left front right away, then we can rule that, you know, it's probably pain, something going on in that hoof that's causing them to be unwilling to pick it up.
[00:26:54] Um, a lot of times when, you know, you go to pick up a hind foot and they're like, if a horse wants to kick out at first, or. Something where we feel our first instinct is, oh, this horse is dangerous. Um, after I get past that whole, you know, my own preservation, uh, instinct, I assume that that horse has some pain somewhere.
[00:27:16] Maybe there's some hawk pain or stifle pain, or there's something in their SI that's bothering them, um, where they don't, their range of motion is limited. I think that a lot of what we see as an unwillingness or, or quote unquote bad behavior for the failure, I think is pain related. Um, one example is I was working on a two year old warm blood, and she was very large.
[00:27:42] She was like 16, two or three at just two years old. Oh my goodness. And yeah. Yeah. And she was, she's a beautiful mirror. I mean, she's just really a nice, nice horse. And she wasn't inexpensive. She was. Bought as a show horse and Will is a very, you know, pricey horse. Um, she came right off the trailer and cuz she had been shipped and.
[00:28:04] The owner messaged me right away when she got her and she's like, oh, she's so great. And she looks like she has really nice feet, but she won't pick them up for me. And I was like, okay, well she's young. Maybe she doesn't know what you expect of her. Um, you know, they hadn't trained her at all. She had just been halter broke, like, you know, they, she didn't have any training otherwise and.
[00:28:23] I trimmed her for about a year and every single appointment, I mean, you'd pick up one foot and she would just wanna fall on top of you, and she would lean and she would pin her ears and she would, you know, tense up her face and just get very, very, um, anxious about the entire experience. And I was trying to give her breaks and just, you know, Let her know that it was okay.
[00:28:44] It was a safe place. I wasn't gonna make her feel trapped. I wasn't gonna hold her foot for longer than, you know, she wanted, but she kept fighting me and fighting me. Um, and eventually we went down the diagnostic route. You know, the owner finally contacted the vet and this mayor, I don't know how, I mean, at like three years old, she had rotation in both front feet.
[00:29:04] So she had found, oh my goodness. Yeah. And, and externally, her feet were okay. I mean, she had, she didn't even really have event lines, which is one of my first signs to say like, oh, there's some laminate issues going on. Um, she had, you know, very wide kind of platter type feet. But part of me was saying like, oh, she has, you know, these flares because I'm not able to bring her foot in as much as I want because I'm trying to, you know, respect her time and her trim and.
[00:29:32] You know, trying to be selfish in how long I have her foot up. But really that one year that we thought it's because of her training issue, it's because she's a baby. It's because she's big and she's young and she doesn't know. Um, it was all she had laminitis the whole time, which is so sad to me that we didn't get it earlier.
[00:29:50] That reminds me so much of a warm blood I had a long time ago. And long story short, he ended up being eut. Um, from chronic pain and behavioral stuff, he was self mutilating and it was just really bad. And, um, that's a whole nother podcast episode, . And he, uh, we did a NAIA on him or an autopsy, whatever, and.
[00:30:14] He had founded an all four and nobody knew. Wow. And he also had D S L D, which also we didn't know. And it was just like, of course this horse was just miserable to be around. He was miserable. He was in so much pain. He was just suffering. And we had no idea. Um, I mean, we had some idea about the other pain, but not about those.
[00:30:34] So it was just like extra on top of it. And that's just so wild. and also that story that you just shared really reconfirms my, I'm very, um, passionate about getting regular hoof x-rays, , and just making sure radiographs, making sure that we're, we're good, that everything's on track. Um, and that's just, that's a crazy story, especially for such a young horse and.
[00:30:59] I know. Yeah. It was, it was really, I mean, um, we found the answer and the mirror is much more comfortable now, and she's doing well. But, um, it was just, it, it was sad to me to realize that, you know, I had this, you know, nagging idea in my brain, like, I think she's in pain. But the owner was like, no, she's just, you know, she's just young and she's a baby, and I, she can't be in pain.
[00:31:22] Like, look at the way she trots in the paddock. I mean, she, she moved beautifully. I just, I think that they're, sometimes horses are more stoic than we give them credit for too. 100%. I completely agree. I have, um, and I just shared about this on one of my previous podcast episodes, but I have a young mayor, she's six now, and, um, she's had on and off issues with the farrier.
[00:31:45] She's. Doing really well. I happen to have a unicorn of a farrier , meaning that she's just super patient and helps and does all the cooperative care stuff with me, and she's just amazing and has excellent, um, barefoot trimming skills and works with founder cases, all that. Anyway, she. We had, I had been working really intensely on her training and she's had really good training from a very young age, and everything's been going great, but she was still having like on and off issues and it would come and go and it wasn't always trackable.
[00:32:19] Like I couldn't figure out what the triggers were for some of her issues, um, and why she was getting, she would get. Uh, sour a little bit about the trim. So her facial expression would change and she would move away. And it was weird because sometimes she would, and sometimes she wouldn't. Meaning like some days she was great just staying there, no problem.
[00:32:38] And then some days she was having a problem. It turns out though, that she has P S S M, which is a muscular condition that really impacts their ability to stand for hoof trims, uh, because of the pain in their muscles. That's just another story that goes along, which with what you were saying where there, there's so much that can impact their ability to stand for the tremor, and it usually is pain related.
[00:33:04] When they're not able to with good training, like let's say they've had good training and the owner's been consistent and you've been consistent and everybody's really patient. If it's continuing to perpetuate, if there's continuing to be issues, usually. We need to start looking for pain somewhere in the body because horses are pretty easygoing and want to do the thing we want them to do usually.
[00:33:27] Um, and I completely agree that giving them the benefit of the doubt, looking for what's causing their reluctance to stand for the, for the trim, for the farrier, is where I always recommend going and, and we go back to pain versus behavioral. Behavior always has a cause. There's always a reason for why the horse is doing what they're doing.
[00:33:52] Sometimes it's a lack of understanding and a lack of clear training. , but a lot of times it's either coming from pain, it's coming from a past reinforcement history, it's coming from, um, something else in the environment. So it could be stress or anxiety or whatever, you know, their companion's too far away, but there's always a cause for the behavior.
[00:34:11] So it's not just like the, the horse woke up that day and was like, I'm just not gonna be good for the failure today. So there's always a cause, but most of the time, or a lot of the times I should. Like you mentioned, if it's continuous and it's, despite our best efforts, they're continuing to have issues, it is going to be pain related.
[00:34:29] So I love all those stories that you, or those, um, examples that you shared. They're such great and very common, unfortunately, examples of what could be causing the issues. Right, and I mean I tend to, to probably gravitate more towards pain when it might al not always be pain, but I would rather rule that out and know that we have a comfortable horse to start with for sure.
[00:34:52] I agree.
[00:35:00] Have you found people to be really receptive to working with both Abe and a behaviors or a trainer and just that conversation, or we could talk about in general? I feel like probably you're gonna say it's been a little bit easier with dog people. How's that been going with horse people? Yes. Well, like I said, and as, as, You know, it's been talked about, you know, the horse world is catching up a little bit and so I think having those conversations is gonna be the first step.
[00:35:31] So talking like this and getting word out there that this is an option, that if you have a horse that you've had for years and you've really done everything in your power to do what you feel is best for this horse, you've had training chiropractor body. You know, behavior vet might be a really good option for you and to see if there's something medically that we can help this horse with.
[00:35:55] And that's where I kind of started. I mean, with any talk of medication, especially with the horse community, it's not out there so people don't know. And so giving that information first, and again, having these conversations and then keep saying it over and over is so, so important. The more we talk about how it is a really good option is so helpful.
[00:36:20] And what is happening right now is we don't have as many horse case studies to go off of, because again, it's just not as out there. , but we've seen so many successful stories with other species. Like I have a client right now, again, a dog, not a horse who she started medication and before the medication she was scared of every noise.
[00:36:43] She was scared of thunderer wind. Any noise really you could think of to where she was scared to go outside because of it. We started her on medication. She is now not worried about noise. We could play any noise in the house and she is just like, ah, that's okay. and like fireworks. Were going off the other day.
[00:37:01] And she was fine and it was really because of that medication. And so the same could be said with horses and we just need to keep talking and keep showing that it is a viable option for so many individuals. And it not only helps the animal, but it helps our wellbeing too, as working and living with these horses.
[00:37:23] Because if I go in and I have negative experiences with my horse, every time I'm gonna get frustrated, is that gonna be that much fun for anyone? But we can get medication, see these little successes, and bring the horse to a point where they can think and learn. That's a cool moment, and we can have more of these if we see medication as a really.
[00:37:44] Good option to explore. Okay. You made multiple points that I wanna come and visit here real quick. So one of them was, you know, the sound sensitivity, so I love that example. Okay. Because it made me think of, I actually know I have a client who's been using, um, Veterinary behaviorist and also a, a trainer behaviorist with her dog who's reactive.
[00:38:08] And one of, she expressed to me that one of her concerns initially was that it was going to change the dog's, um, personality that the dog was going to be just like, Drugged. And I think people think of meds, especially when I'm thinking horses. Most people think of that as immediate. It's like sedation, right?
[00:38:27] So they see their horses. Yes. Dopey and like falling over when forward like the dentist or the vet. Right. And they're thinking that's. What we're talking about. And so I think it's so important to be getting that information out there that that's not the case. And I would love to hear more about your experience with it.
[00:38:46] And as far as it, how does it change temperament? How does it change personality? Is it going to transform the dog in any other way than what might be ideal or hoarse in this case? But you know, your case study you mentioned was the dogs , right? That's the number one question I get every time this conversation happens is people are worried it's gonna turn their animals into a zombie.
[00:39:10] And that is not the point of behavioral medication. There are instances it is helpful for the animal to be sedated like at the zoo, we had animals that would get extremely stressed out under medical procedures, and we did not have time to train that through cooperative care. So was more humane for them to be sedated.
[00:39:30] But that is an extreme example, an extreme, very specific situations. Hmm. Really, the point of medication I tell people is to help your animal be able to be comfortable so they can think. When animals learn, they need to be under threshold, right? So for a horse that's probably in their paddock or in the arena with nothing much going on, they are in their routine.
[00:39:53] There's. Elevated behaviors being shown, like kicking or bucking, things like that. And so what medication can do for a horse that is in that state, more often than not, it helps them to stay under threshold so we can actually teach them behaviors and skills. So that is what medication can do for an animal.
[00:40:16] And a lot of times too, if we go to our primary vets, you, you talked about this a little bit, some primary vets will prescribe medications, but they're not behavior vets. So sometimes we do get medications prescribed for our animals that do sedate them, and that's where behavior vet comes in because they are trained.
[00:40:35] Medications and what each one does and how it can help the animal, again, stay under threshold and feel more comfortable, so more learning can occur. That's one of the big reasons for, and one of the big helpful aspects of having an animal on medication is we can actually have an animal who can think and learn and can retain information.
[00:40:59] Yeah, I love that. And that's such a really good way of explaining it, where we're just trying to help them get to a point again, where they're thriving so that they can actually learn. Because if they're so fearful or so over threshold all the time, it's really hard to get them to that good learning place and no.
[00:41:19] No real, true or healthier. Good learning happens from , that place of like high stress and fear and all of that, except for probably more fear learning. And so getting them back to that place where they can be at peace, like in their own body and like in their environment so they can learn something new.
[00:41:39] Which brings me to. The idea of, and this is kind of my interpretation of it, and I'd love to hear your, uh, you know, how you go about doing this, but I tell people all the time that if we were gonna use meds, or in my case, that's oftentimes I'm using some sort of other thing because I have a really hard time finding vets in my area that will do that.
[00:42:03] And so we're gonna go on that topic later. But, so for me, I'm gonna, I'm using things that are more homeopathic or natural. Soothing type stuff. So like calming stuff. Yeah. And even then I sometimes have, uh, trouble getting people on board with that, which surprises me. Yeah. I'm like, why not help them out anyway?
[00:42:22] I'm always telling 'em it's, it's not a crutch. I imagine people probably think in their head like, we're gonna sedate them and then we're just gonna like, pretend they're well-behaved now. Like, that's not what we're talking about. , we're talking about getting them to a good place so that learning and training can happen and potentially.
[00:42:39] The goal would be ideally to be able to wean them off of it if if helpful with some. I'm sure some learners, some individuals will need it lifelong. And you can tell us more about your experience with that. But have you been able to be successful with weaning some of the individuals that you work with off of their meds that they're needing?
[00:43:04] And I wanted to talk about bringing new horses home. I wanted to talk about bringing them home. You know, you, you go out and you find you the companion of your dreams. You've been horse shopping for weeks, months, years. You know, it's your first horse or it's your 10th horse. It doesn't really matter. It's really exciting.
[00:43:21] You're eager to bring them home and you also want to do it. And you want to make sure that you make it as low stress as possible for your horse, and also as low stress for you and enjoyable, and just set everybody up for success. It's a good goal to have, and I'm here to offer some suggestions. Now, there's gonna be different ways of doing this.
[00:43:40] This is not a foolproof, like it has to be this way or the highway kind of situation. Just me sharing what I do and how I help horses transition to new homes. And this will also apply to people who will be moving their horses to a new facility or a new barn, even if they're not changing owners. So let's say you have to change boarding facilities and you need to move your horse.
[00:44:02] How do you help your horse settle into the new facility? As easily as possible, this episode will also apply to you and your horse. So first things first is that, As much as we're all super excited to like get to the new barn, start exploring it. You know, taking the horse out on the trail rides or maybe getting into the arena and starting our lesson program right away, or getting back into training right away.
[00:44:29] We need to take it easy. Horses do take quite a while to settle into a new. Ashley, if they're changing herds, if there's changing herds and their companions are different than they were before, you can expect it to take quite a bit longer for a horse to really settle into a new home. And when I talk about quite a bit longer, I'm gonna say that for a full transition process for a horse that's kind of an average horse, we are not dealing with a lot of trauma, not a lot of unpacking.
[00:44:55] There's, you know, the horse has normal behaviors. You guys have a good relationship. They're not changing owners, et cetera, and you've just changed boarding facilities and you're going to a new, you know, good place. A place where they're gonna provide them with their forage and their freedom and their friends and all of that.
[00:45:12] And your horse has been prepared properly for that transition time, which we'll talk about in a minute. I would fully expect it to take that horse about a full six. To really settle in. Now, hang on, don't panic. That doesn't mean you can't train for six months. It doesn't mean you can't take your horse out of the pasture for six months.
[00:45:29] I'm not saying that. I'm just saying for a horse to reach a state of like homo stasis where they're comfortable in their body, again, they're established in the herd. They've, you know, reestablished connections and companionship, they feel comfortable with the routine and the environ. They're settled in their digestive tracts, have adjusted to the new forage.
[00:45:51] Maybe any changes in their feeding regimen, it's gonna take a minimum of six months. Now that doesn't mean that, again, like I said, that you have to stop everything and just, you know, put a freeze on everything for six months. I'm not saying that Now, again, we are talking about normal. , like the average horse, there are horses where that is going to be the case.
[00:46:07] That's an abnormal case, but it, it might happen. So what I'll say though is that for at least the first month for the average horse, I would fully expect them to need quite a bit of adjustment to their normal routine in their normal, like how you guys would interact on a daily basis. And if you're getting a new horse.
[00:46:26] Never worked with before. You know, you just purchased a new horse, rescued, adopted whatever it is, again, about a month. That's when I bring horses into my facility, when I bring new horses into my training program. So while I'm not assuming ownership of the horse, I am like their full-time care provider and their full-time trainer at that time.
[00:46:44] I expected to take at least three to four weeks for the horse to really start settling in and for us to start making headway in their training. Now, of course, we start training before that, especially when horses come in for lesson programs or training programs. Usually it's a little bit hard to ask an owner to sit for a whole month while paying board and full training while the horse just kind of chills out before we start the training program.
[00:47:07] However, that would be. So it would be nice if owners could allow for one month minimum of the horse settling in before we started a full training program. Usually I start a full training program and I, I gradually, you know, kind of work up my work the horse up to that. I start it within the first week or two and so we'll start off maybe the first week I'll kind of sit with them and get to know them and this, I'm walking you through again what I do with my.
[00:47:34] Whether it's a horse I bought or a horse that comes into my training program or horse I'm fostering, doesn't really matter any new horse to my facility. This is the program, the routine that I put everybody kind of through, and then we adjust it accordingly to the individual. So, We start off with the horse, you know, landing at our, my facility and I provide them with their forage.
[00:47:55] Usually there's a quarantine period too. I do make sure they have companions nearby, but they do not go directly out into the herd. They stay in a their own pen, but there is a companion right next to them. So they're not isolated. They're just not able to touch noses or be in the herd with the other horses until we make sure they're not carrying anything contagious, et cetera.
[00:48:16] So there's a quarantine period. But they have 24 7 forage. They have lots of room to roam. They have free choice minerals and salts. They have free choice water, obviously. They have access to shelter. They have, you know, their forage like I mentioned, and then they have companions nearby. I also, at this time end before, if I can start them on gut support, I start them on.
[00:48:37] anything that has like is also preventative and also settling. So things with, you know, there's different herbs and stuff. I'm not gonna go through it as far as nutrition counseling and medical counseling here, but there are different supplements that are specifically designed for this that are herbal based.
[00:48:53] Or you can look at something that is more medicine based. And I'm, again, there's different brands, there's different things that I use, and I also start them on a really good probiotic if I can do that before. Them. That's ideal. So I'll start them on gut support a week before and at least, and probiotics and all that before I move them, cuz this can make the transition period so much easier on them.
[00:49:18] I also usually start them on something that is calming. So something usually herbal, sometimes something with magnesium or vitamin Bs and all that can be helpful if they're deficient in those things. But that is not typically what I go for. I go for something that has, you know, like chamomile. Val Root and stuff like that.
[00:49:36] Again, talk to your vet, talk to your nutritionist. Don't take it based off of my podcast. Please don't. And I start them on that a couple of days before I move them if possible, if not a week before. So I'm trying to get it all into their system. I'm trying to get them really in a good place, physically, mentally, before I make that stressful transition.
[00:49:55] And then I move them to my place and they continue on it. Now, if they arrive at my. And they haven't been on sf. That's, I mean, that happens more often than not. I just start them on it immediately. So with their forage, with their companions, with their free room to move, and with the gut support and all that.
[00:50:12] I usually spend the first week just sitting with them and getting to know them. Just I might sit outside. Usually I sit outside their pasture, so in protected contact, and I just kind of hang out with them and I let them get used to my presence. I let them get used to me. I'm also usually doing their feeding time, so they get used to me being somebody good in their life that.
[00:50:32] Food and if also going on to this transition, you know, talk and all that. If I can, I will slowly transition their feet if that is necessary. If they're coming from a different barn that fed them something differently, I will spend. A good month sometimes transitioning them over from their previous feed and if possible, I also bring their hay from their previous barn as well.
[00:50:55] So I'm trying in my hardest to transition their gut and the gut flora and all of that very gradually so that their system goes into as little shock as possible during the transition. And this really impacts the behavior. This really impacts their ability to adjust to a new environment. So everything is slow.
[00:51:14] Possible as far as transition goes, is going to help as well. So I'll spend the first week just really sitting with them, getting used to them, getting to know them, watching their body language, reading how they communicate, you know, their different calming signals that they use most commonly, how do they interact with the horses, you know, even the at a distance over the fence.
[00:51:32] How do they interact with people? I watch their reactivity to different things. You know, like there's a squirrel that just left off the tree, like how do they react to that? So I watch all those things. I get to know them. I really feel them out, and then I start to let them get to know me and I'll just spend time with them.
[00:51:46] I also will be working with other horses in proximity to them. So we could talk about that as a whole different podcast episode of how horses can learn from observation and how they absorb the. Kind of the, the feeling and the energy, the emotion of their environment. I really strongly believe that horses definitely pick up on their environment and how they're experiencing.
[00:52:12] Through kind of, you know, vicariously through the other horses what's going on. So I make sure that any horses that are in proximity to them and any training that's going on is as low stress and as positive as possible, as pleasant as possible. I'm always striving for that, but I'm extra careful of that when I first bring in a new horse.
[00:52:31] And I want the horses that they are surrounded by to also be good examples. So they're calm, they're well adjusted, they're not react. They have good behaviors around people. I'm trying to influence their behavior early on and give them a really good sense of how this is gonna go and what the environment is like, and how the people are.
[00:52:49] I'm also very cautious about who interacts with the horses when they first arrive as well. It needs to be somebody that's very educated, also very calm. Also can set like a precedent, like this is how it's gonna be here. In as far as, in a good way, this is how it is. We're all low key and we're all res.
[00:53:04] Respectful of each other, and this is how life is here. So that's like the first week and then rolling into the second week. It continues along that way. However, I start to introduce some training sessions and so I'll do some quick training sessions and you know, again, this is in context of how I train.
[00:53:21] So typically when I start working with horses, my training sessions are around 10. Each at most. Sometimes they're five, sometimes they're only two minutes and maybe one to two a day to begin with. And so I'll start with, you know, let's say we got a seven day week, right? So I might do two or three that week total of sessions, and they're probably gonna be under five minutes long.
[00:53:42] Maybe I'll do a couple more sessions. It really depends on the horse. Some horses come in with a lot of clicker training knowledge and all that and, and are. Stable and you know, kind of tracking along that average horse as far as like behavior wise and all that, we might do more training sessions quicker, versus a horse that's coming in with a lot of baggage, a lot of trauma that needs, you know, they need help, they need time to adjust all that.
[00:54:05] I might push off training for a little bit longer, or I might just do like a super brief couple of sessions. And we're just going to progress from there as the individual horse needs. So training from there progresses into more of a full-time routine within three to four weeks. And then by the third month, that's when I really start seeing the training and the changes and everything start to compound, meaning that I see a huge impact on their behavior.
[00:54:33] I see a big transformation. Personality and then their behavior towards people and other horses and all that. Around the three month mark, this is usually when I'm starting to see the biggest results from the training we've been putting in. If it's related to behavior modification or we're trying to train new behaviors.
[00:54:50] Obviously we're making progress that whole time, but around the three month mark is when I really start to see horses settle into, you know, the training and settle into the environment. Far as interacting with the people and figuring out the routine and understanding what's going on.
[00:55:10] Thanks so much for listening. If you enjoyed this podcast episode, I would love if you left us a review on wherever you listen to your podcast. If you'd like to learn more, head to our website. The willing equine.com, where you'll find a bunch of links to our different social media platforms. We have Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, Facebook, pretty much everything.
[00:55:29] We also have our blog, our training services, and the t W Academy where you can enroll in the foundation course that opens a few times a year. Thanks so much for listening, and I look forward to chatting with you in the next episode.