It has been a little over a year that we rescued Quixote from neglect. While his previous owners meant well, they were not a good match. Quixote is a very playful boy who needs stimulation and a calm, steady person. Unfortunately, his owners were novices, who quickly became afraid of him, and he stood in a stall for years, languishing and pretty much going crazy.
When we took Quixote in, he was crazy… or at least crazed. We tried several different training methods with him before we found one that worked. We do not ascribe to one particular method of training, as the horses we get in have so many different personalities and individual needs that we feel a more individualized method of working with each horse is more beneficial to the horses. Quixote needs stimulation, he needs to play, and he does poorly when disciplined. That doesn’t mean one can be a total pushover, but we learned to approach his discipline more like play. Again, he is still not allowed to be naughty or dangerous, but we try not to be “in his face” when he is naughty. For example, if he rushes out of a gate, we find a way to make going in and out of the gate either not a big deal, or more of a game where he gets a reward. Trying to discipline him negatively when he rushed through, however, only agitated him further. And, as you can see in the video, sometimes he wants to be the one in charge of the whip. 🙂
What we also discovered with Quixote is that he not only wants to be around other horses, he NEEDS to be around other horses. He was very, very unhappy when we separated him from the horse he had lived next to for years, but quickly bonded to another horse (within hours). We put him in a stall where he was surrounded by other horses, so he is never completely alone, and that makes him very happy.
Quixote also was very thin, and consequently was very food aggressive. Horses like Quixote, who have a faster metabolism, are not going to be able to keep on weight when only fed a bucket of cubes twice per day, but that’s all the stable gave him. We believe that a reputable stable should feed to the needs of the horse, which means sometimes feeding more, and sometimes feeding less. Pretending that all horses need the same amount of food, however, is ludicrous, as you can see in the picture below, when we first took in Quixote.
In order to get weight on Quixote and to eliminate his food aggression, we fed him double the amount of food we usually give a horse (over 40 pounds) for a few months, and he ate it all! Well, for those few months, and he finally began to taper off. Since he had a ton of food in front of him all of the time, he finally came to the realization that he didn’t have to guard it from anyone, and really became pretty relaxed about dinnertime, and is now back to what we would consider to be normal amount of food. He still neighs and enjoys his food, but he no longer tries to kick or bite any of his neighbors. We also put the cribbing collar on Quixote- he had been allowed to crib previously, and that most likely led to him getting an ulcer. Sometimes horses who are hungry will crib, as the air makes them feel like their stomach is full. Unfortunately, it then becomes a habit, and will lead to ulcers and potentially colic. We put a collar on Quixote, treated his ulcer and fed him. He will still crib without his collar, but now he is healthy and has no ulcer issues.
The last aspect of Quixote’s rehabilitation was getting him rideable again. Alas, he had learned that a little buck or jump would scare his previous owner, so guess what he thought would be a good idea? He would leap into the air, and then buck. It wasn’t enough to unseat me at all, but the first few times it was a little scary. We worked with him on the ground to get some muscle on him and to make him more comfortable, going through about a dozen saddle configurations before we found one that fit. When Quixote was comfortable on the ground, then we worked him under saddle again. It took some time, but eventually he was comfortable at the walk and trot without any sort of issues, but he would still try to buck sometimes at the canter. We are still working out the “buck” at the canter, but it is much better, and he is comfortable and learning that that is not an acceptable response. I think he actually kind of enjoys knowing he is working like a “real” horse again, and has some sort of purpose.
We are looking for a fun-loving, experienced horse person who would like to love Quixote. Please fill out our horse inquiry form if you are interested in this wonderful guy!