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Bobbysox – a special time and place

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All is right with the world

 

Sometimes we get these wonderful moments when animals let us in….really in.  I never cease to be amazed when this happens because those moments are so powerful that unless you’ve ever been appreciated or loved by an animal you might miss the window of opportunity to bare your soul and receive the love back.  And then all is right in the world.  Just look at this photo….Does this not say Peace and Love?

Bobbysox is a Foster mini from Pipsqueak Paddocks.  (http://www.pipsqueakpaddocks.com/aboutus.cfm)  I have been asked on a couple of occasions to take in foster minis for them.  This a great non-profit group that re-homes miniature horses when the owners can not care for their little horses.  Some are surrendered because people move; some are seized from unpleasant situations through no fault of their own.  Bobby was a troubled little horse that came from a life of isolation as a 14 yr old stallion in a box stall.  The lack of turnout meant he stood around and worried.  While he might have had good food and water, he lacks social skills and behavior problems cropped up from his ability to cope with change…any change.   When his elderly owner had to be hospitalized his world was turned upside down.  And so he came to me.  A troubled little horse with lots of displaced and stereotypical behavior from his life of confinement.  Was it genetic?  Was it environment?  Probably some of both.   Stereotypies are a frequent, often mechanical repetition of the same posture, or movement.  Zoo animals in captivity with unnatural or environments that are not enriched develop this.  Temple Grandin, in her book Animals Make us Human has a theory that these behaviors mean either 3 things:  the animal is suffering right now, or the animal suffered in the past and it’s a habit it can’t break, or the animal is using the stereotypy as a coping mechanism to soothe or stimulate itself. 

Head flinging stereotypie

In Bobby’s case it was an erratic need to be constantly on the go, in a fence trotting movement, back and forth, over and over, with a frequent need to throw his head in a circular motion several times a minute….or to roll on the ground (it relieves adrenaline…. Bobby rolled 21 times in the first hour after his arrival) It was an attempt to soothe himself…..or he would stand and dig holes.   It was the only way he could cope with all the changes in his life. 

Repetitive rolling - trying to get rid of the adrenaline that his anxiousness produced

Bobby is an extrovert so that means, even when he is physically standing still, he is still moving emotionally.  But this was over the top.  There were days I wished I could take his batteries out and put him on the shelf to rest because he didn’t seem to be able to find comfort anywhere.   Over time, and with patient work and learning to figure out the puzzles that the natural horsemanship methods provided him here, I COULD get his brain to quiet down and he began to think instead of react. It came as a relief to him.   Even after many months with me, he still has his moments when he goes almost catatonic in his reactions to change, but generally he rarely feels the need to go to ‘the dark side’ anymore.  He has an “off” switch now. …He can be quiet and serene and it’s in those moments I cherish just how far he has come.   Natural horsemanship was the ONLY answer for this troubled little horse because it sets the horse up for success….  And Bobby is a changed horse

Bobby has wonderful new adoptive owners and they have left him here for a few more months, to learn with him, to shoehorn themselves into his life in a gradual transition and to discover natural horsemanship as a way to reach Bobby and help him grow even more.  They’ve even adopted a second mini as a friend/companion for Bobby and Ajax is here on my farm currently to develop the bond and attachment that Bobby needs in order to feel safe when he leaves here.  Bobby now can be turned out in a herd of horses…all ex-stallions that needed to learn how to be horses….. and that’s a beautful thing!

Breaker, Bobby, Ajax and Flash....4 ex-stallions in harmony together

 


1 comment

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  1. Wow, Deb! This is such a touching and amazing story, all at once! I just got home, and am so glad I stopped by your blog to see this. Thank you so much. Cyn

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