Horses for Healing

Posted on July 18, 2018 by Jerrilee.
Categories: equipment, handicap, health, military, riding, therapy, training.

Combat veteran Rick Iannucci with Cowboy Up!

Photo:Melanie Stetson Freeman

On June 8,2018 the U.S. House of Representatives passed bill: HR 5895, (the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Act of 2018), which included an amendment to increase funding for the Veterans Affairs’ Adaptive Sports Grant Program for equine-assisted therapy. The amendment, introduced by U.S. Rep. Andy Barr (R-KY) increases funding by $5 million for fiscal year 2019. The funding will enable an expansion of services that use equine-assisted therapy in conjunction with mental health care treatment and services to veterans.

excerpts from article by April Reese in Christian Science Monitor:

For 2-1/2 years, a stream of Iraqi and Afghan war veterans – many carrying both physical and psychological scars of combat – have found their way to Mr. Iannucci’s Crossed Arrows Ranch, about 15 miles south of Santa Fe, N.M. After first learning to groom and walk the specially trained quarter horses, the vets work their way up to mounting and riding them around the arena. As the veterans bond with the horses and learn how to “read” them, they begin to heal and feel connected with the civilian world again, Iannucci says.  “Horses are so in tune with you – if you’re uptight, they’ll know,” he explains. “They coax a certain level of contemplation out of you. They demand for you to be in the now. When the vets start working with the horses, they immediately start calming down.”

Some arrive with physical disabilities, such as limited use of arms or legs wounded in combat. Others are dealing with traumatic brain injuries, a result of roadside bombs or sniper attacks. Many have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). “We call it ‘post-traumatic spiritual disorder,’ because we think the thing that happens to people in war is a wounding of the spirit,” Iannucci says. “Our goal is to find that [wound] and start working on it.”

Iannucci, a compact man with a purposeful demeanor and a walrus mustache, grew up in horse-racing country in southeastern Pennsylvania. From about age 12, Iannucci trained and rode quarter horses his family kept at his cousin’s farm. After retiring from his job as a US marshal working in Colombia, he moved to New Mexico and returned to horsemanship in earnest. He bought the ranch and built a horse arena, initially to provide a place for children to ride. A few years later he started inviting veterans to come and work with the horses. Word about Cowboy Up! began to spread. Brig. Gen. Loree K. Sutton, former director of the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury, visited the ranch last year. Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (D) of New Mexico has also paid a visit. “Rick doesn’t hesitate to take on a challenge, but he’s also a very humble and patient person,” Mr. Lujan says. “The program is truly impressive. Just to see the faith these men and women have is incredible.”

 

Learning the Riding Posture

Posted on July 1, 2018 by Jerrilee.
Categories: equipment, handicap, health, history, riding, therapy, training.

excerpt from Nancy Nicholson,Ph.d book titled: Biomechanical Riding & Dressage  (click on diagrams to enlarge)

Riding the Elastic “Ring”


Riders sit on top of the rib cage, which is an elastic structure by virtue of its connections with the spine and the amount of cartilage connecting it to the sternum. It is remarkable for several reasons:

1)     there are no floating ribs (connected just at the spine): ribs all are connected by cartilage at bottom of the trunk,
2) the horse’s center of mass is located within it,
3) it is adjustable in term of its “bounce response” or “tuned reaction” by means of neck and pelvis position acting via elastic ligament or tendinous tissues, and
4) the ribcage may act as a “spring-loaded” mediator of bend in the thoracic spine.

These features create a structure which might be compressed by the grounded leg (potential energy) and could immediately make it available to the airborne leg (kinetic energy). Presumably, a horse can adjust its spinal posture according to what it needs to do: stand, walk, trot, canter (maneuverable gait) or gallop like hell (optimal covering of ground). Millions of years of dealing with predators have honed equine conformation to be excellent for middle distance running: lead changes (change of bend to the rested diagonal pair) allow the other set of muscles to extend endurance, not to mention the ability to kick while moving. But we want to ride this animal. As La Guérinière has pointed out, we will not want to ride everything the horse can do! Adjustable bounciness is a key to understanding aids which a rider gives. It is simple to state what a rider may do: doing it is very difficult.

The Elastic Horse

Basically, a rider is able, by using lower body aids, to adjust the posture of the horse by positioning its spine so the rib cage is set up for each movement. Half halts are the name given to the aids by which a rider asks the horse to adjust his posture in order to control the joined centers of mass. As you can see from the second diagram below, these should should come mainly from the lower body, which is placed so that the rider may affect crucial muscles which “tune” the rib cage. If that were all we had to know about dressage, we could all go home after reading the above sentences. Because the postures a horse can achieve lie along a continuum, there are a huge number of positions possible. A rider must learn them by feel in order to give an appropriate half halt. That is why a ground person with sharp eyes and a sense of what is most important at a given moment is essential to give the rider feedback on what is functioning correctly. It is up to the rider to inform the ground person how the movement feels.

Three Basic Principles of Dressage

Posted on June 25, 2018 by Jerrilee.
Categories: handicap, history, riding, training.

clinic in Chesapeke City
photo: Hassler Dressage

 

from Dressage Today, Charles de Kunffy brings forward the basic principles of training the horse dressage.

As a young rider in Hungary, I remember how three moments of evolutionary breakthroughs made all the difference. Like all young riders, I was impressed when I looked at the sophisticated equine professors that moved with big, round necks, as opposed to thin, inverted racehorse-looking ones. Being pragmatic and used to getting things done quickly, the easiest solution to achieve a round neck seemed to be manipulating the neck so that it appeared to be round. My coaches got on my case, leaving me with a sense of desperation. If not actively working on the horse’s neck, how in the world would I get such a round and tall carriage?

Backed up by my relentless coach, my patient horses soon revealed a most surprising discovery: I could influence the neck’s position from the haunches rather than from the reins. The principle of this discovery is similar to the principle of sweeping dust into a dustbin with a broom. As you sweep, the dustbin travels forward to receive the dust. It has to move in order to receive the dirt being gathered up. Similarly, the horse is gathered up from behind by energizing his haunches and giving him the room through the reins to articulate freely. Trying to achieve collection by working on the horse’s neck cuts the horse off in the front. Confining reins prevents the hind legs from powerfully supporting the rider’s weight and balance by lifting him with suspension. Following this, I realized that a horse consists of three bascules:

The neck (the easiest to access and manipulate)
The back (which takes more knowledge and skill to engage). If a horse has what we called a “warm” back–loose, supple and oscillating–he can lift the rider. It’s almost like sitting on a suction cup; it comes up and supports the rider’s pelvis. On the other hand, if a horse has what we called a “cold” back–low and stiff–the rider achieves nothing other than growing old sitting on it.
The hind end (the haunches should thrust the pelvis forward to lower the croup and to actually articulate at the lumbar-sacral joint). This last bascule is the one that is widely ignored by riders. If it were addressed, one would see many more horses that lower themselves toward the ground in supple strides from elastic joints. Horses with unexercised hind leg joints move stiffly with high croups. Horses with ill-developed muscles, lacking strength and suppleness, might appear to have round necks but remain still disconnected through the topline.

Once I understood to ride the horse’s hindquarters instead of his neck, the second breakthrough came when I realized that riding is a dancing partnership with the horse. Every horse has a certain signature rhythm–a footfall that’s like a fingerprint. Only when a rider aids in the rhythm of the horse’s footfalls will they make sense to the horse. Horses don’t understand banging and poking with legs out of phase with their footfalls, although the rider might use an occasional kick as a wake-up call. A horse that’s pushed out of his signature rhythm will run off and not be able to do relaxed extensions.

So we were asked to get into a rising trot and tell our coach when we found the horse’s perfect rhythmic profile. Once we had established that, we were able to stimulate the horse to more activity without changing his rhythm. This resulted in a dancing, free, forward, suspended and rhythmic movement without the horse being confined in the front.

The third important principle was an understanding of how to keep the horse together without confining his haunches from the reins. My coaches insisted that the reins may be used for a thousand things except to inhibit the haunches or to set the shape of his neck. A well-schooled horse will collect on even sagging reins into a piaffe or school canter. No need to hold him together, only drive him from leg and seat. Consistent and knowledgeable use of half halts educate the horse to understand the leg aids not merely as “go” but also as “energize” without running off.

When thinking about collecting a horse, many riders only think of closing him longitudinally from hocks to bridle. However, one must realize that one closes the horse also laterally from outside leg to inside rein and from inside leg to outside rein, like an X. Half pass and the shoulder-in, for instance, are exercises that utilize this concept of closing the horse laterally. In the half pass, when the horse is closed correctly, he lowers his outside hip and thrusts his pelvis toward the inside shoulder. In the shoulder-in, the inside hock is supposed to reach so deep–not just across but deep forward–that it reaches level with the outside stifle. The rider who fails to close the horse longitudinally as well as laterally will fail to engage him.

These three principles allowed me to train to higher levels. I wish you well in riding your horse in your horse’s native rhythm, closed from behind, strong and seated, elastic and supple.

Quartermaster and Horse Keeper

Posted on June 12, 2018 by Jerrilee.
Categories: breed, equipment, handicap, health, history, military, therapy.
76th Brigade, 1917

76th Brigade, 1917

The land, or Army, Quartermaster Department is the unit responsible for organizing and distributing supplies to our troops. The availability and volume of materials they control provides the means for military operations. Its inception here in the United States was just before the Revolutionary War in 1775.  It became a powerful role in the equine development of our country. Our first Quartermaster General, prior to the breakout of war in 1776, was appointed by the Continental Congress whose members included two future presidents: George Washington and John Adams; it also included the business/philosopher Benjamin Franklin; and the famous freedom fighter,Governor Patrick Henry.  Their first appointee, General Thomas Mifflin, tried for nearly two years to run the new department but eventually became overwhelmed with the sheer enormity of the job, especially since the lack of supplies to provide, and roads to bring them to the troops, nearly lost the war more than once.  The first Quartermaster General resigned in 1777.
A  young Rhode Island Officer, Nathaniel Greene, was appointed his successor. Edward Payson writes of Maj. Gen Greene (in the 1950 Quartermaster Review): “Throughout the winter he [Greene] had vigorously protested against conditions in the Quartermaster General’s Department, particularly the shortage of forage for horses, hundreds of which, he pointed out, had starved to death. ”
Gifted with leadership and organization, Greene established a transportation system for stock and wagons, agents to examine and purchase animals and equipment, and multiple sites for forage depots in an effort to keep soldiers and animals from starvation while out in battle. The results had an immediate beneficial impact and strengthened our position in the war, earning the Officer some of George Washington’s highest praises.

Nathanael Greene

Nathanael Greene

The availability of horses during wartime was always a problem.  Equine casualties were grossly high, ranging into the multiples of thousands of dead horses. Because of this it was impossible to maintain enough mounts.  When regional supplies of horses available for purchase were exhausted, private horses would be seized for military use. During the Civil War, for example, the approach of Northern troops into a southern town meant raiding of the horse barns, as well as their food pantries. Many southerners used their crossbred horses for battle and left their valuable breeding horses at home. When these were seized, the bloodlines of some of our founding breeds were lost forever.
Eventually, the Quartermaster Division realized the need to establish their own equine division which would include their own breeding farms. This Division can easily be called the predecessors of the US horse industry. When the field quartermaster soldiers who had worked with both mules and horses, returned to the private sector they entered their communities with well honed horsemanship skills. They regenerated the field of horse services. Also the retired Calvary Officers left their posts to become competition judges and were a powerful influence on the core principles of horsemanship and horse husbandry, principles which are still widely practiced today. During peacetime the military equine division brought about mutual competitions, establishing  3-Day Eventing Competitions and eventually becoming international, which ultimately led to participation in the Equestrian Olympics.

Just Being ‘Neigh’-borly?

Posted on June 5, 2018 by Jerrilee.
Categories: equipment, handicap, health, history.

Back in the spring of 2008, a paint horse named Whisky broke loose after being tied outside a bar near Lake Desolation in Saratoga County, N.Y.. Concerned citizen Robert Carey saw Whisky and his “wingman” cowboy galloping off down the street and attempted to corral the wayward wards. After grabbing Whisky, Carey was allegedly knocked unconscious by Whisky, badly injuring his shoulder. Two surgeries to repair the damage to Carey’s shoulder were apparently unsuccessful, and Carey remains unable to work five years later, prompting his lawyer to say Carey is “…the proverbial one-armed paper hanger.”
horseservice
In the classic, “he said, he neighed” style representative of this sort of legal case, Whisky’s side of the court room claims Whisky is “calm, docile, well-trained, and sociable.” Further, Whisky’s owner, Burton Schwab, claims that he’s never received complaints about Whisky’s behavior in the past “had no knowledge of Whisky ever moving or jerking his head violently or quickly, knocking anyone to the ground, or stomping on anyone.”   A county judge refused to dismiss the case, and the Appellate Division’s Albany-based Third Department affirmed that decision.

Alcohol was also to blame in the  arrest of Patrick Schumacher, 45, who was taken into custody by the University of Colorado Police Department in Boulder, Colo., in 2013, for driving under the influence while on horseback and animal cruelty. Schumacher failed a sobriety test, and a search of his backpack revealed a gun, several beers, and a pug named Bufford. The horse and pug were held overnight by the local humane society. When the two animals were released back to a sobered Schumacher, he then remounted and continued the 600-mile trek to Bryce, Utah, for his brother’s wedding.

 

Reunited with dog and horse

Reunited with dog and horse

Trimming the Hoof Bars

Posted on May 1, 2018 by Jerrilee.
Categories: equipment, handicap, health, hoofcare, therapy.

Natural hoof trimmer Linda Harris of  thehappyhoof youtube channel  explains the importance of the bars of the hoof, and the 3 V’s of natural balance.

In trimming the bars you are just getting what ever may be laid over the sole off of it, so that as the hoof wall grows past the sole so will the bars (instead of laying over towards the outside wall and growing sideways, covering the sole in the seat of the corn).  You do not want to dig the bars down past the sole. You do not want to reduce the bars to where any leverage on the heels will push them forward, because then your heels will also go forward. That whole area of the heel buttress is formed to try and hold the heels in place.

 

In this photo, the inside bar (pictured on right and not yet trimmed) is slightly laid over with a chunk laying on the seat of the corn of the sole. The outside bar (pictured left and just trimmed) shows you where the white line is.  As you’re trimming, keep in mind that your actions in the back also affect the front of the hoof. NEVER take off any of the back half of the foot without taking some of the front half, even though it may seem like the front half did not grow much, and here is why.

The front half of the hoof is where the main sole ridge is that protects and surrounds the coffin bone. That sole ridge will grow forward with the wall and get thicker and thicker and begin to raise the front of the foot as well as grow gradually forward. With some horses, the wall will grow out past that sole ridge and you automatically know to trim or cut it off. With others the sole ridge will just grow and thicken along with the wall and so you think your foot has not grown. This is even worse if the toe in general has been stretched forward and is at a low angle because it will “seem” like the wall hasn’t grown at all. This then eventually creates a situation where the sole ridge, that is supposed to be thickest at, and surrounding the rim of the coffin bone, is actually out in front of it. So then you have thick sole ridge not under the actual toe of the inner foot, (as it’s supposed to be). Therefore the inner foot itself is sitting behind the toe callous, on thin flat sole. This slowly drops the toe of the inner foot down low and closer to the ground.
This is one reason why we rocker the toes to try and thin that sole ridge which is out of place.  This allows the wall to grow down very tightly connected to the very end of the internal foot where it will once again connect with the sole in that area. It grows down to the ground and then RETAINS that sole ridge under the front perimeter of that internal foot where it’s supposed to be.

Now this picture looks pretty good, the walls are trimmed down and the bars are defined and fine.

In the end the final and ultimate goal is to get the walls to grow down without being leveraged so they will reconnect in the right spot at the very bottom of the internal foot with the sole that grows from the sole corium. From there they continue to the ground and contain that V under and around the V of the internal foot.

What are the three V’s of the hoof?

Problems occur when the 3 V’s disconnect from one another. The V shaped rim of the coffin bone and sole corium drop onto FLAT sole instead of being in the V shaped ridge of the Wall and Sole ridge.  Then you will get coffin bone remodeling, because you have a V sitting on a _ like so V . Our 3 V’s are these:

V   Coffin bone / which is hard but also a softer bone than the rest.

V   Sole corium attached to coffin bone / which is soft and padded full of blood.

V   Wall and sole ridge.

Now we can not undue whatever prior damage may have been done to the feet. BUT when the hoof capsule is as correctly grown and reconnected as close as possible in alignment with that internal foot, the body has a “chance” to heal itself, proving our bodies and the bodies of animals are in and of themselves wondrous things.

Sharpening Your Hoof Nippers

Posted on by Jerrilee.
Categories: equipment, handicap, health, history, hoofcare, therapy.

That trusty pair of nippers you depend on so often will gradually dull with use, until one day you realize that you’re having a tougher time trimming the hoof wall than you should. It’s best to sharpen those nippers before that day arrives. Exactly how you go about that will determine whether the nippers return to peak performance for an extended period or if they’re a big step closer to the trash bin.
“What destroys the most nippers is the way that horseshoers file them,” says Donald Jones. As an International Horseshoeing Hall Of Fame farrier and the owner of NC Tool Company, he ought to know. He’s used a lot of nippers over the years, and he routinely refurbishes the tools sent in by farriers across the country.  “A good sharpening that prolongs the life of the nippers isn’t difficult,” says Jones. “The secret to making the nippers cut well is to keep the shoulder area thin. Most people get their edges too blunt,” he says. “The actual front edge, the cutting edge, will feel sharp, but there’s so much metal back on the shoulder that it makes for resistance when you’re trying to cut the hoof.”

He offers the following advice for best results:
A. Secure the nippers horizontally, with the lower handle firmly in a vise. Pull the top handle upward to open the head of the nippers and expose the underside of the jaws.
B. Identify the area to be filed. Always file the underside, or inside, of the nipper jaws. Although a few strokes may be needed on the front cutting edge, most of the filing should run from the front edge through the back shoulder.
C. Use a two-handed grip on the file for long, flat strokes. Strive for a sharp cutting edge that runs smoothly back into the shoulder of the nippers without any sudden angles along the way. Repeat the process for the second side of the nipper jaws. Avoid damaging the corners of the jaws, which help pierce the hoof wall during trimming.
D. The stops down in the handles come together at the same time as the cutting edges to prevent the cutting surfaces from blunting one another or overlapping. If you take a bit of metal off the cutting edges when you sharpen them, then you have to take a little off the stops, too, so the cutting edges close correctly.

Even with proper sharpening, nippers eventually need professional resetting of the handles and tightening or replacing of the rivet. There are two reasons for this, Jones says:“One reason is that after adjusting the stoppers a few times as part of the sharpening, the handles start getting closer together. Send the tool to a professional when the handles become too close to use the nippers efficiently or comfortably. Another is that after nippers have been sharpened a few times, a gap appears between the cutting edges. The nippers should be sent to a professional for resetting. But you should be able to sharpen nippers several times before you need to send them off for reworking,” Jones says, “and then they’ll work as good as new.”
(article and photo from the American Farriers Journal)

Para-Equestrians=Equestrian Innovators

Posted on April 26, 2018 by Jerrilee.
Categories: handicap, health, history, riding, therapy, training.
Photo: FFE

Photo: FFE

Para-equestrians are other equestrians who ride and compete within the range of complex physical challenges. They have also established their participation in worldwide equestrian Paralympics, where they match their learned skills on their talented mounts with both the jumping and dressage competition. Riding Therapeutic schools have been highly successful in enabling individuals compromised physically from accident or birth. Workers at these facilities find deep rewards and endless ways to use their ingenuity as they adapt training and teaching methods to fit their special riders.  Riders who excel on horseback now have the opportunity to move forward into competition. The Para-Equestrian events were scheduled into the Kentucky 2010 FEI Games for the first time. These events began putting a new face on the world of horsemanship!  Para-equestrians were official events in the 2012 Olympics.    Nine countries – USA, The Netherlands, Brazil, Ireland, Italy, Belgium, South Africa, Australia and France – qualified their para- riders.

mike-richardson.jpg

Mike Richardson is a shining example of  para-equestrians as innovators at his Broken R Ranch . He brilliantly reinvented his place in on horseback after a tragic accident left him a paraplegic. Abandoning the traditional tack that no longer served his needs, he developed a saddle that kept him steady and in balance with the horse, enabling him to continue teaching and training at his ranch in Texas. Mike’s inspiring experiences are shared through his public appearances throughout the country.

Elie Wiesel, a holocaust survivor, wrote: “It takes a certain amount of confidence and courage to say; “I can do something. I can change this and make a difference.” Our fellow para-equestrians are daily living this change and making this difference.

 

Liz Hartel: Therapeutic Riding Founder

Posted on April 23, 2018 by Jerrilee.
Categories: handicap, history, riding.

Lis Hartel on Jubilee

In 1944, at age 23, Hartel was paralyzed by polio.

She gradually regained use of most of her muscles, although she remained paralyzed below the knees.  Her arms and hands also were affected.

Against medical advice, she continued to ride but needed help to get on and off the horses.

After three years of rehabilitation, she was able to compete in the Scandinavian riding championships.

In 1952, she was chosen to represent Denmark in the Helsinki Olympics.   Prior to this time women were not permitted to compete in the Olympic Equestrian events.

Even though she required help on and off her horse, Jubilee, she won the Olympic Silver Medal.

Following her stunning performance, as Lis was helped down from her horse, a gentleman rushed to her side. It was the Gold medal winner, Henri Saint Cyr. He carried her to the victory platform for the medal presentation.

It was one of the most emotional moments in Olympic history.


Lis Hartel at the 1952 Olympics in Helsinki.
She became the first woman ever to share
an Olympic podium with men.

Lis Hartel was the first Scandinavian woman entered into The International Women’s Sports Hall of Fame in New York, and was named one of Denmark’s all-time top 10 athletes in 2005.

In 1992, Hartel was included in the Scandinavian country’s Hall of Fame.

Lis Hartel is widely credited with inspiring the therapeutic riding schools that are now located throughout the world.

Shortly after winning the Olympic medal, Lis Hartel and her therapist founded Europe’s first Therapeutic Riding Center. This soon came to the attention of the medical community and Therapy Riding Centers spread throughout Europe.

By the late 1960’s equine riding was accepted by the America Medical Association as an “invaluable therapeutic tool”.

Sadly missed after her passing in 2009, today, the spirit of Lis Hartel lives on around the world.


Through her inspiration countless handicapped children and adults have become heroes in their own lives
through their work with horses.

Published in: simplymarvelous wordpress

Feeding The Angry Horse

Posted on March 6, 2018 by Jerrilee.
Categories: breed, handicap, health, history.
toddler with horses (from simply marvelous wordpress)

toddler with horses (from simply marvelous wordpress)

Toddler entertaining horses

(Photo from Simply Marvelous WordPress)

Horses love to eat.  Having daily turnout time where they can graze connects them back to the time of their ancestor’s nomadic life.  Wild horses still walk and graze for miles in rocky terrain foraging for food.  Of course, domesticated horses are not dependent on wild foraging. Grazing is more of an activity, since the bulk of their day is confined to a small area where they eat, sleep, and watch over the fence for entertainment.  Most horses have been instructed and guided from birth to understand interaction with humans. They even prefer the company of their owners rather than standing alone all day.  The horses in the photo above are clearly enjoying the attention the toddler is giving them. These horses can be trusted not to bite or kick when someone approaches them, or hands them a treat, even if that person is a wandering toddler.

But feral horses, or horses who spend their formative years trapped in neglect or abuse, develop a view of humans as predators. Young horses, or newly caught wild horses, trapped with owners who withhold their food, shout at them, or inflict pain through harsh training methods, these horses cannot distinguish the human from any other predator who threatens their safety. This is why they resort to using defensive behavior. They become biters, kickers, and chargers.  To onlookers, such an animal looks (and is) too dangerous to be around. If the horse is part of a herd and fears for the safety of the herd, it will use deadly force to protect its mates.  At mealtime, you will see this behavior escalate in horses who fear that having their head down makes them vulnerable to attack.  These are the types of horses who become dangerously defensive eaters.  Can this kind of horse ever become safer?   Yes, these horses can be rehabilitated, but not overnight, or in one training session. The behavior that took years to imprint needs length of time to unlearn. If the handler understands the reason for the horse’s behavior they can begin a new track of training that will replace the horse’s fear with confidence. To isolate this type of horse and apply even more physical force on the assumption that this will induce submission only serves to engage more brutality.

I once cared for a rescue horse who was so dangerous at feeding time we could only drop the food over the gate then run! He bent his metal gate by body-slamming it at full force, several times. If grazing in the pasture he was off limits to visitors as he would charge and attack anything that wandered inside his pasture, including dogs or other horses.  But within two months he had changed.  While he ate, I could blanket him, lift and inspect his feet, put on his halter, or brush him.   He learned to wait for strangers to put down his food while he stood politely nearby. How?

Horses are blessed with the gift of curiosity and the ability to change when they no longer feel threatened. Therefore their daily environment can be structured to engage their attention and focus, and to subtly integrate humans as a partner and not a threat.  Something as simple as having them watch you carefully place several piles of hay in remote areas, and their water in a far away corner, so that they must search and find when turned out to pasture, activates their curiosity. Placing tarps and ground poles on the ground for them to learn to walk over, requires them to use their reasoning powers and serves to build their confidence. If their owner is there to cheer them on with each new discovery it will begin to build a bond of trust between them.   Graduating from there to learning the comfort of being brushed, sensibly handled, blanketed or saddled, encourages the horse to let go of the defensive mechanisms he depended on for survival.

In the case of my foster horse, when he relaxed enough to show a desire for attention, to be petted and touched,  I  agreed to do so only on the condition that he be eating while I patted him.  Once he became comfortable with that I added cleaning his paddock while he ate. Then I added putting on a blanket, lifting a hoof, and even brushing, while he ate. The process took many weeks, but in view of the many years he will have as a trusted companion in his permanent home, the time is minimal.
Most animals react with defensive behavior because they have felt compromised and endangered at some point. Correcting the cause of their defensiveness, that is, fixing whatever it was that made them feel afraid, just as we correct the cause of an illness or lameness,  can restore harmony.

equi-works

equi-works