Our sweet thoroughbred Harlow arrived with Teak in May 2014 from New Holland, but the differences between the two horses could not be greater. Teak settled easily into his new situation, and proved to be such a straightforward and steady boy that he has already been adopted out to a loving home. Teak clearly had been well-schooled and had positive interactions with people before he was brought to auction. This, in combination with his age and Quarter horse breeding, made our job as trainers easy. At the opposite end of the spectrum, Harlow came to us with a lot of baggage from his previous life, and we anticipate him taking much longer to progress through our program.
When we handled Harlow at the auction, he was completely shut down and had no interest in anything around him. Physically he was a mess– his coat was dull, he was dehydrated and extremely underweight. Once Harlow’s physical condition began to improve after several months at the farm, we realized that mentally, he was in pretty rough shape too. He was nervous and extremely insecure about being on his own. In fact, Harlow would get himself so worked up looking for his friends that he simply couldn’t focus on anything being asked of him. We know that he raced, and that lifestyle can be very stressful for some horses. He wasn’t a successful racehorse, and we imagine that after the track, he probably got bounced around to different farms and sold to different dealers. For a sensitive Thoroughbred, that lifestyle could certainly take it’s toll.
Most behavioral issues with horses stem from something physical, and so our first goal has been to make sure that Harlow is comfortable and feeling well within himself. Due to his history and behavior he almost certainly has ulcers, and so he has been treated and is now on several daily supplements to help support his stomach and digestion. The difference in a horse before and after treatment can be remarkable, and Harlow seems to be responding well. He is beginning to settle and we’ve started easy work on the lunge and in the roundpen, as well as groundwork and ponying off of a big, steady friend. All of these low-key activities allow us to work on conditioning and developing a connection with Harlow before we even ride. He is filling out well, has a nice shine to his coat, and is beginning to look at new things with curiosity instead of fear. We look forward to more slow, gentle work with this sweet-natured boy as he becomes a regular member of our training program.