We Ride Sport and Trail Magazine November 2018 - Page 22

Horse Behavior Specialist

Licensed 2 Star Parelli Professional

www.nancyslater.com

22 / Sport and Trail Magazine

Self Preservation

isn't just Something

“Stay alive -no matter what!” As prey animals, horses have

more self preservation tendencies than predators, but

some horses have more than other horses. Horses are

pretty tolerant of humans overall, (I feel horses are

extremely forgiving), but then you meet a horse that is over

the top with it. You cannot completely bring him into

domestic life without plenty of time, patience, savvy, and

love.

A 16 year old rescued mustang is one such case. He was

very wild, snorty and jumpy -off the chart in self

preservation. He was proud and majestic; I admired him

from the start. When I heard what had happened to him

after he was captured off the range by the BLM (Bureau of

Land Management), I wanted to cry.

Chevy was adopted and someone had tried to tame him.

Apparently, it didn't go well, as he was found in a dark,

boarded up 8x10 shed, where, for 4 years of his life he was

locked away, existing in his own waste. He couldn't get out;

couldn't see out. After he was finally rescued, it took 8 darts

to sedate him. He felt he was fighting for his life! It was

suggested that he be put down because his behavior,

based on self preservation, was so dangerous.

Sixteen Hands Horse Sanctuary rescued him from certain

death. They got him into the trailer and released him with

the other rescued horses in the pasture at the sanctuary.

He once again stretched his legs, ran with the wind in his

mane, felt the warm sun on his face, and socialized with

his own kind. There was one volunteer there watching him,

and all at once, she fell hopelessly in love with the

magnificent animal. Before long, she talked her husband

into fostering Chevy, buying a home with pasture to keep

him in.

Krystal spent hours working to befriend Chevy the wild mustang. When the horse tried to physically leave, but fences prevented it, Chevy would show displaced behavior. He would simply close his eyes, as if asleep, tuning out the world around him. When there was a more heightened threat, like more than one human around, he would bang his head on his leg while groaning, totally afraid of dying...

Krystal sat with him with no demands, played music and talked to him, just to calm him. In time, she was able to move him around at liberty, gently using a training stick to guide him, playing the catching game, moving him over tarps, and backing him up. The change in him when he was with her was huge! As long as Krystal didn't try to touch him, he could do quite a bit.

Two years in, she became ill and her recovery was slow and painful. During that time, Chevy gave her a reason to get out of bed. She knew Chevy needed her. Two more years passed and Chevy felt more and more relaxed around Krystal. But he still resisted touch. She was stuck and needed help over this ‘no touch’ hurtle.

With money donated to the sanctuary to help horses like him, Krystal picked me to help her with Chevy. They backed the trailer up and he was let loose in my round pen. He snorted loudly and bolted off. I pushed him forward gently, but he banged his head on the panels in panic as he tried desperately to escape me. Then he stopped moving and immediately left -mentally. He went so deep, he could not see or hear me; he was no longer present...

I cleared my mind to connect with this beautiful creature. I began to breathe deeply, feeling love and appreciation...Chevy looked at me. The look said, “Please don't hurt me.”

Chevy has PTSD Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. What we are working on is Post Traumatic Recovery. Krystal made a promise to Chevy. She has never lied to him. He appreciates her and I believe those years that Krystal put into the relationship, ‘loosened the pickle jar lid’.

Within days, using Parelli Natural Horsemanship techniques, Chevy felt he could trust me with my ropes and sticks. He was coming to me, accepting the halter, leading up, yielding to poll pressure in preparation for tying, and grooming. Hands on grooming. If he had to leave, he could. I'd just start over. Krystal bought a large bottle of Cowboy Magic, which I began to rub into his dreadlocks. She began to cry. She knows that Chevy sees the goal, and that journey to a new freedom is extremely emotional. There are no limits in the bond that will grow between this 16 year old survivor and his loving forever foster mom. Love heals.

Self preservation isn't just something, it's everything.

Krystal spent hours working to befriend Chevy the wild

mustang. When the horse tried to physically leave, but

fences prevented it, Chevy would show displaced

behavior. He would simply close his eyes, as if asleep,

tuning out the world around him. When there was a more

heightened threat, like more than one human around, he

would bang his head on his leg while groaning, totally

afraid of dying...

Krystal sat with him with no demands, played music and

talked to him, just to calm him. In time, she was able to

move him around at liberty, gently using a training stick to

guide him, playing the catching game, moving him over

tarps, and backing him up. The change in him when he was

with her was huge! As long as Krystal didn't try to touch

him, he could do quite a bit.

Two years in, she became ill and her recovery was slow and

painful. During that time, Chevy gave her a reason to get

out of bed. She knew Chevy needed her. Two more years

passed and Chevy felt more and more relaxed around

Krystal. But he still resisted touch. She was stuck and

needed help over this ‘no touch’ hurdle.

With money donated to the sanctuary to help horses like him, Krystal picked me to help her with Chevy. They backed the trailer up and he was let loose in my round pen. He snorted loudly and bolted off. I pushed him forward gently, but he banged his head on the panels in panic as he tried desperately to escape me. Then he stopped moving and immediately left -mentally. He went so deep, he could not see or hear me; he was no longer present...

I cleared my mind to connect with this beautiful creature. I began to breathe deeply, feeling love and appreciation...Chevy looked at me. The look said, “Please don't hurt me.”

Chevy has PTSD Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. What we are working on is Post Traumatic Recovery. Krystal made a promise to Chevy. She has never lied to him. He appreciates her and I believe those years that Krystal put into the relationship, ‘loosened the pickle jar lid’.

Within days, using Parelli Natural Horsemanship techniques, Chevy felt he could trust me with my ropes and sticks. He was coming to me, accepting the halter, leading up, yielding to poll pressure in preparation for tying, and grooming. Hands on grooming. If he had to leave, he could. I'd just start over. Krystal bought a large bottle of Cowboy Magic, which I began to rub into his dreadlocks. She began to cry. She knows that Chevy sees the goal, and that journey to a new freedom is extremely emotional. There are no limits in the bond that will grow between this 16 year old survivor and his loving forever foster mom. Love heals.

Self preservation isn't just something, it's everything.

The look said, “Please don't hurt me.”

Photo by Krystal Showalter