It’s been almost a year since we rescued Cindy Lou. She had been a “dude ranch” horse and then a broodmare. When the dude ranch went bankrupt, she was left with her colt and was not touched for close to six years. When the ranch was taken over, the lawyers in charge of liquidating the ranch called us and asked if we could take Cindy Lou, as she was not in any condition to be sold, and the manager who was in charge of the ranch at the time wanted to make sure she went to a good home.
Cindy Lou spent about six months at a foster home while she gained weight. She got her vaccines and her teeth floated. Cindy Lou is very barn sour, (a term used when the horse that doesn’t want to leave home, presenting resistance or complete refusal if you try to take her away from her comfort area), but she seems comfortable while with her horsie friends.
One of the issues we discovered is that Cindy Lou was NOT going to take a wormer, and it was soon clear why- she has a lot of scar tissue in her mouth, most likely from harsh, abusive bits that were used on her. We had her on a daily wormer for a while, but once she came to Hanaeleh we wanted to work with her so she wouldn’t have such a violent reaction- after all, we may need to give her bute or banamine paste in the future.
When we first started working with her with the wormer, Cindy Lou’s reaction was violent. She would pull back at the rail, throw herself against us, and shake her head back and forth. We were patient, however, and kept touching her with the wormer and putting our hands near her mouth so she would get used to being touched there, and no longer associate a human touching her mouth with eventual pain.
This past week we worked with her again with the wormer- we can’t say that she was great, but after a few minutes we were able to give it to her with little fuss.
You’ll notice in the video that she never pins her ears or pulls back as she once did- she isn’t thrilled with the idea of the wormer, but she’s no longer afraid of it- which is so important when working with abused animals.
We can work with horses who don’t really like the wormer. To be honest, we really don’t like giving the wormers as we know the horses are going to give us dirty looks and be annoyed with us for a few minutes.
We will continue to work with Cindy Lou to get her comfortable with the wormer, and with anything else she finds scary. We want the horses to feel secure and we want to be able to work with them in a safe manner. It would be easy for us to give up on her and just give her the feed-through wormer for the rest of her life- but again, that would mean we would not be able to give her any other paste medication.
Helping Cindy Lou (any horse, really) work through these scary situations leads to more trust on her part, and creates a stronger bond with people.