Meet the Herd!
Meet the Herd....
It might sound strange, but when I started my Equine Assisted Learning (EAL) journey I didn't have any horses. At times I wondered how it was all going to come together. Finding horses turned out to be no problem. Finding horses that would suit me and my work? Well that was a bit more challenging.
The thing is there is no hard and fast rule about the type of horse that makes a good EAL horse. They come in all shapes, sizes, backgrounds and personalities. Some horses work really well with clients and others might be Observation only. One practitioner I know has a pony that is near impossible to catch and handle. So while that pony is never going to be worked with in an exercise that requires some one to catch or touch her, she still has a lot to offer clients in a session. Especially when it comes to boundaries. It really comes down to the practitioner and they type of clients that you have.
Which doesn't make finding the right horse any easier. The other thing that happens when you say you are looking for a horse (especially if you say you don't need to ride it), suddenly every other person knows someone who has a horse "who would be perfect", "sitting in a paddock" "really quiet" etc etc.
So how do you choose a four legged EAL partner? Well for me I had a list of things that I definitely wanted in my horses. Good ground manners and relatively quiet nature were some. Trainable was another - not for EAL but for my own learning and to give them something else to do or engage with. The biggest thing for me was connection. I needed to feel a connection with my future horses. I planned on working with them for sometime and having horses is a big commitment regardless. Yes I saw lots of horses that were "nice" or "could work" but each time I had to ask myself if I wanted to take the horse because I felt a connect or because I didn't want to miss out. The other thing I needed to keep in mind was that I have a 2 year old, so any horses that require a lot of work was also out.
After a bit of searching I found them. Keep scrolling to meet them....
Takoda landed in my inbox. Thinking that he sounded like a good match I emailed the owner. To be honest though I thought there would be a lot of interest and the likelihood of it working out was small. As it turned out he was only an hour away and after talking with his owner and previous owner I could tell that they both really cared about him and where he ended up.
A big Palomino Quarter Horse (can't get more Cowboy than that!) Takoda is a very good looking boy. Bred for the show ring, an accident in his youth made him unsuitable for showing and he was left in a paddock with another horse and neglected. Until he was found and rescued by the first of his next two homes. Given lots of love and care Takoda has come a long way. Although you would never know it as he has a lovely soft nature.
Unfortunately his injury makes him unsuitable for riding which is how he ended up here. His last owner wanted a good home and thought he might prove to be a good EAL horse. It's been a bit of journey to get here, but I knew it was meant to be.
Meet HSES Poppy!
I saw Poppy while visiting Horse Shepherd Equine Sanctuary. Although not one of the horses I was there to look at, she definitely caught my eye. A few months later I met her at one of Horse Shepherd's Adoption Days and pretty much lodged the adoption form that day.
Poppy is a Standardbred, the breed of horse used in harness racing. A very underrated breed I have to say! Poppy caught Horse Shepherd's eye at the Sales Yard and not wanting her to end up with the meat buyers, bought her. I'm so glad they did and I think any clients that meet her will too.
Coming from a Sale Yard it is hard to know Poppy's past. Due to the fact she has a "Standie Tat" or brand on her neck it means she has been trained to race, but it is unlikely that she actually has. She has an injury that we are still trying to work out (and is getting treatment) and this is probably the reason she was sent to the markets. I'm just guessing though. Poppy is a smart and sensitive soul who loves carrots.
If you would like to find out more about Horse Shepherd and the wonderful work they do - click here.
If you are interested in working with Takoda and Poppy, make sure to sign up to my newsletter as I will be releasing all my coaching packages soon.