In late November, we brought Tommy and Roman up to the arena for the first time. Initially they were so anxious that we could barely lead them. The transition from quarantine to the busy farm scene was a shock for these boys, and it was immediately clear that we would need to start at the very beginning with their training.
Tommy has strong separation anxieties, and it took days before we were even able to lead him quietly. In contrast, Roman relaxed quickly into his new routine but appeared lethargic and shut down. While Tommy’s challenges came from his frazzled mental state, with Roman we guessed that extra physical support would be key as we began his training.
Both boys received a month of treatment for ulcers, along with an ongoing magnesium supplement to help calm them and relax tight muscles. Like all of our rescues they also receive bodywork, which is a great way to address physical issues while helping them to remember that people can bring comfort. You can work with a horse for months, but progress will always be limited if they are uncomfortable. We have the ability to offer these horses the extra support they may need, and so we always begin by checking up on the physical side of things.
Tommy and Roman have now been in training for several months, and we have seen some nice progress. Both boys have good ground manners and were well-behaved for the dentist and vet. They are not spooky and have easily worked through all of our obstacles.
Under saddle, Roman is learning how to bend and soften through his body. Initially he was very weak and stiff in his hind end, which was likely part of his reluctance to move forward. As he gains strength and fitness, Roman is more willing to go but struggles to follow subtler steering aids. He still has a lot of stiffness through his body, which will improve with conditioning. The arena can be limiting, and we were thrilled to get this boy out on several hacks recently, which he loved. As we begin accepting applications for Roman, we will be aiming him towards a pleasure/trailriding home.
Tommy’s issue continues to be his strong separation anxieties, as he loses focus when other horses come and go from the barn or arena. He is beginning to look to people for reassurance in times of stress, and everyday we work to redirect his nervous behaviors so that he can learn to be more confident. When Tommy is relaxed, he is a lot of fun to ride as he has comfortable gaits and is forward and very responsive to the aids. We will continue to address his anxieties daily, and trust that he will continue to make steady progress.
Both Roman and Tommy were previously bound for slaughter, and we look forward to continuing their training. Keep an eye out for updates and videos of these two in action!