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.