We’ve had 3 free horses here at the farm. If you talk to a horse-person, they generally don’t think that a free horse is a thumbs up. They’ll be skeptical. They’ll be wary.
Our first free horses were a mother and daughter Arabians. Very pretty girls that hadn’t been ridden in a long time. Ten years or more. So when we got them, they needed a little work.
My daughters love training horses and spent a good deal of time with the two ladies. As it turned out, the senior mare(going on 30 years) just couldn’t carry any of us because she would go lame. So we couldn’t really ride her. In the herd she was the alpha and created tension in the paddock. Her temperament was cool.
The younger gal was 20 and plenty fit. She was a handful, though, and daughter Char was her rider. Char worked with her intensely to get her to a manageable place. She spent so much time with her, but got very little reward. If she wasn’t being ridden consistently, she would slip right back to her old and haughty habits.
On top of this, she was a cribber. “Cribbing” is when a horse bites onto a fence rail, or in Lunah’s case, anything, and sucks in air. This action creates an endorphin rush and the horse becomes addicted to it. Lunah came to us with this habit which she’d been indulging in for nearly 20 years. We tried special collars and wrapping the wood with netting, running electric braid above the fence line, treating the fences with a foul-tasting product – nothing worked. She was bent on getting her fix.
This behavior destroys the farmyard over time, but worse than that, it can be very harmful to the horse. The horse can become prone to colic by having gas distention in its intestines or its teeth become worn down.
The last free horse we owned had been Max. He came to us “Whiskey”, but Char renamed him. He had some “crow-hopping” issues, some bucking. While Char was schooling at home, she had time for a project horse. When she became enrolled outside of the home, there was not as much time for working with him. Each outing on Maximus resulted in rodeo-riding for Char. After about a year, we felt that he wasn’t being ridden enough because our other, better-behaved horse became Char’s steed.
So we have found homes for our three free horses where it is a better fit. And we have learned lessons from them that, in the end, may have paid off their debts while they were in our care.
No more free horses.
It’s in writing, so I must mean it.