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Sena A Slaughter

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Member Since: Jan, 2010

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My Experience with Horses
By Sena A Slaughter
Sunday, January 10, 2010

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Training horses has been my lifelong work and passion. This is an excerpt from my life as a young apprentice trainer.

My love affair with horses must have begun before I can even remember. I have either trained them or owned them from the age of seventeen until now. I especially love stallions and have worked with a number of them over the years.
When I first went to work at the age of seventeen as an apprentice trainer, I already had developed a strong sense of my own training methods.
My boss was a Caballero cowboy from Mexico and I learned much from him. My methods were always done in a gentle way as were his. I disagreed with the idea of breaking a horse and was more interested in gentling one using their natural flight or fight instincts.
One particular mare I remember was brought to us abused and neglected. She was four years old and we were her last hope. Her legs had been roped out from under her from the time she was a foal. She had rope burn on her everywhere. Tell-tale scars from the years of abuse she had endured. There was no telling what else had been done to her. She was found in a stall standing at least a foot deep in her own urine and feces.
She was not a pretty mare, having a roman nose and being steel grey in color. She had an attitude to match her homely looks. She hated people and would attack on sight. Long gone were her flight instincts and all that was left was fight.
In order to work on her hooves we had to sedate her. It broke my heart to see that horse so mistrustful of everyone. We had to be watchful of hooves and teeth at all times because she intended to hurt or even kill any human she came in contact with. It was just her survival instinct kicking in. She had been taught that running did her no good. All that was left was to fight for her life.
The first month was all about gaining her trust. It was the hardest part, but horses, like people are social creatures and we used this to our advantage.
I often left little treats on her stall door when she had her back turned. It was far too dangerous if she could see me because she was quicker than I was and could wheel around in that stall and snake her neck out and have me in her teeth within a blink of an eye.
I sat for hours outside her stall just out of her reach and talked to her about anything and everything. I spoke in a soft low voice. Horses don’t like to be around nervous people or people with high pitched voices. They are more at ease if you learn to talk to them in a low key.
At first I didn’t think we were going to break through. She constantly ran back and forth snorting and dashing her hooves hard against the stall door. She laid her ears back in anger and warning at me and everyone else. She is the most dangerous horse I have ever come up against in my entire career.
My love affair with horses must have begun before I can even remember. I have either trained them or owned them from the age of seventeen until now. I especially love stallions and have worked with a number of them over the years.
When I first went to work at the age of seventeen as an apprentice trainer, I already had developed a strong sense of my own training methods.
My boss was a Caballero cowboy from Mexico and I learned much from him. My methods were always done in a gentle way as were his. I disagreed with the idea of breaking a horse and was more interested in gentling one using their natural flight or fight instincts.
One particular mare I remember was brought to us abused and neglected. She was four years old and we were her last hope. Her legs had been roped out from under her from the time she was a foal. She had rope burn on her everywhere. Tell-tale scars from the years of abuse she had endured. There was no telling what else had been done to her. She was found in a stall standing at least a foot deep in her own urine and feces.
She was not a pretty mare, having a roman nose and being steel grey in color. She had an attitude to match her homely looks. She hated people and would attack on sight. Long gone were her flight instincts and all that was left was fight.
In order to work on her hooves we had to sedate her. It broke my heart to see that horse so mistrustful of everyone. We had to be watchful of hooves and teeth at all times because she intended to hurt or even kill any human she came in contact with. It was just her survival instinct kicking in. She had been taught that running did her no good. All that was left was to fight for her life.
The first month was all about gaining her trust. It was the hardest part, but horses, like people are social creatures and we used this to our advantage.
I often left little treats on her stall door when she had her back turned. It was far too dangerous if she could see me because she was quicker than I was and could wheel around in that stall and snake her neck out and have me in her teeth within a blink of an eye.
I sat for hours outside her stall just out of her reach and talked to her about anything and everything. I spoke in a soft low voice. Horses don’t like to be around nervous people or people with high pitched voices. They are more at ease if you learn to talk to them in a low key.
At first I didn’t think we were going to break through. She constantly ran back and forth snorting and dashing her hooves hard against the stall door. She laid her ears back in anger and warning at me and everyone else. She is the most dangerous horse I have ever come up against in my entire career.
One afternoon I had a breakthrough. She had gotten used to me and my boss and one day as I placed the sugar on her door and went to hurry away, she turned her head and nickered at me. Her eyes were soft for the first time ever, her ears moved about curiously, listening.
I spoke to her telling her how good she was. It was all I could do to contain myself. I went back to my bucket outside her stall and sat down and cried for her.
It wasn’t long after that we were able to halter her and lead her around. We worked day by day with her. Once she accepted us we could do anything to her and she would stand stock still.
About six months down the road I was riding her around in the arena. She was such a pleasure to ride, smooth gaited and easy at the bit. Anyone could handle her then and I admit I was a bit resentful of that fact. Yet we had poured our hearts and souls into her for that reason.
A car pulled in as I was riding her and the owners stepped out. They stared in awe and their mouths dropped. They couldn’t believe the horse I was riding was the horse they had left with us so many months before. They were sure they would be picking her up and taking her to be put down.
I smiled at them and rode her up to the gate, dismounted and led her out to them. The next week she went home and I missed her terribly.
I think of her from time to time. If she is still alive today she would be thirty years old. I hope she lived the rest of her life in health and happiness.
I spoke to her telling her how good she was. It was all I could do to contain myself. I went back to my bucket outside her stall and sat down and cried for her.
It wasn’t long after that we were able to halter her and lead her around. We worked day by day with her. Once she accepted us we could do anything to her and she would stand stock still.
About six months down the road I was riding her around in the arena. She was such a pleasure to ride, smooth gaited and easy at the bit. Anyone could handle her then and I admit I was a bit resentful of that fact. Yet we had poured our hearts and souls into her for that reason.
A car pulled in as I was riding her and the owners stepped out. They stared in awe and their mouths dropped. They couldn’t believe the horse I was riding was the horse they had left with us so many months before. They were sure they would be picking her up and taking her to be put down.
I smiled at them and rode her up to the gate, dismounted and led her out to them. The next week she went home and I missed her terribly.
I think of her from time to time. If she is still alive today she would be thirty years old. I hope she lived the rest of her life in health and happiness.


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