Little Maverick. Found at the veterinarian’s clinic with a broken femur…what would happen to him if he made it through the long and difficult recovery of a horse with a broken leg?
You have heard the stories. Broken legs are a death sentence for a horse. Their body weight and desire for movement causes the bone to never quite heal correctly, infection is a constant worry and will quality of life for a chronic lame horse be the best?
Blessedly for Maverick…he had a laid back attitude, the break was high up on the leg and he was young. Maybe 6 months old when it happened.
Robbie and Cody were at the vet for an unrelated reason and heard how the doctor thought this little guy could make it with the correct care and his great attitude.
They talked about it and agreed. Maverick could come to Buffalo Woman Ranch and recuperate there…becoming the newest member of the herd.
There are certain issues though that come along with a young horse that has been handled this much. Orphan foals also have these issues…issues regarding no established boundaries and no respect for the human caretakers. I mean after all, the vet techs at the clinic aren’t there to train a weanling. Their job is to feed, doctor, change bandages, ect…in as quick a time as they can, even if it means muscling the horse around and subduing it in whatever way is possible without hurting the horse, because it is all about the horse healing. The training is for another professional.
So Maverick came to the ranch crawling all over everyone, pushing them around with his body, walking on people…you get the picture. He was so totally desensitized to humans that he had no respect for them. No fear is great but there is a difference between no fear and no respect.
So that was the first line of teaching. Making Maverick safe to be around.
His training began as soon as he arrived. Robbie started to set his boundaries and when she had to be off of the ranch, Jess… also a member of the ranch family, continued his training. He was worked with every day, in and out of the round pen, further establishing boundaries using body language and relief from pressure as the reward. With the consistency of the other members of the ranch, the farrier and the established herd…things started changing. Maverick is a smart little guy and he wanted to be a part of the herd so he listened and paid attention. Bella, one of the mares who is very gentle but firm, was put in with him to teach him horse manners. If Maverick wasn’t behaving correctly, she let him know about it by nipping his butt or some other way of horse language that means, “Hey! Straighten up there, mister”!
Today, Robbie and I worked with him as well on giving his hind quarters and Join Up, which is a term created by Monty Roberts, a trainer in California. It means to get the horse’s attention, to be respectful to the human while the horse is free to move at liberty in the round pen and in return receive no more pressure from the human which is a peaceful reward. The right behavior brings relief and the wrong behavior creates work in the form of more movement around the round pen.
I enjoyed working with the little guy and look forward to more tomorrow or the next day. People are showing up every day here for meetings and round pen therapy sessions. It’s busy and energy is high. The weather is fantastic. I can see it raining in the mountains over in Utah. Everyone wants to be outside enjoying the weather and with horses, well… that’s just icing on the cake, isn’t it?