July 1, 2020 – Ask Monty Newsletter
Question: Do horses ever forget past abuse?
I’d love some advice to help more safely handle my 11-year-old Quarter Horse gelding. He is a former ranch horse who we believe was handled roughly; he can go from being relaxed, to spooky and reactive. He typically seems to be more reactive when in an enclosed space, and feels “trapped”. I have worked hard over the past year to build up his trust.
Colleen Peachey Lapp
Thank you very much. This is an interesting and informative question. One must first remember that horses never forget anything. With that in mind, we must be aware that circumstances involving their environment will call to mind past experiences.
It is gratifying that you have observed the volatile behavior when your horse is in an area small and confining. It will be fun for you to continue to investigate what promotes these behaviors. I suggest that you then begin to repeat these experiences incrementally deepening the environmental factors. Once you recognize an area of concern, then rub your horse, scratch his withers, rub his head and attempt to cause him complete comfort without the suspicion you could be violent.
You will see a gradual improvement and it will cause you to become more aware of all of the traits, positive and negative, your horse expresses. Thank you for the question and let us know how it goes.
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