Educational,  Greater Goodness,  Post

Casper – Trust

Progress with Casper- walking straight forward on a lead rope. Don’t all horses do this? No…In answer to a question… This is about PTSD, severe – no trust when interacting if he is haltered, very little ‘try’, or curiosity, he becomes frozen in ‘brace’ – his brain telling a body part to move, gets disconnected, he CAN’T move…

Thanks to clicker training and waiting for him think and respond, this is the first time he took more than 2 steps forward – in a straight line, when asked via lead rope. His response at the end – going internal, is him coming off adrenalin. Our continued connection – without me asking anything of him – was simply me standing there supporting him, like another horse would, while he released his stress response. The lowered head was awesome to see..

UPDATE: And this morning, Casper walked right up to me – nose about a foot from my chest…The next hurdle is to stand by his side without his spinning away. Then lay my hand on his shoulder while I stand at his side… The other hand on his back, then haunch, without him twitching and moving away… Finally, I would like to lead him to a paddock that has shelter and water. This has not been, and still isn’t possible. My wild horse.

Finally Starry has a mate. He and Casper/Jasper are good together. After Mikaila met the love of her life – Yuri, she pushed Starry – ‘the other gelding’ out of the picture… We’ll see which group Rose fits best with… But for now – the last 3 days – particularly yesterday, was a milestone…

Casper is smart, aware, well mannered and behaved, but self preservation is on high alert at all times. He despises being touched, and only allows his nose to be close enough. He politely takes treats, and the majority of our daily work is at liberty with rewards. 10 years old, untrusting, he is careful to not allow me to touch him, his face neck, or anywhere; his skin flinches when I’ve taken an opportunity to touch his rib or haunch. We made a lot of progress regarding trust, when I add up the little things… But I couldn’t halter, lead, touch, brush, or ask the farrier to trim his hooves. I made several attempts to halter, each time Casper said No, No, No…

Due to upcoming bad weather, I asked my farrier to help as he takes a long rope and catches the horse quickly. Judging by Caspers response to being caught, my instinct to not try was spot on. Casper turned into a wild, not even remotely tame horse- he fought to get away and he did twice – from an expert. We got a halter on him and tied the farriers rope on to the end of my 12′ lead… 20 minutes – life changing. Casper has been wearing this for 4 days now. I work with him 2-3 times a day for short sessions, the progress has been huge in just 4 days. Because of the connection he and I created, he has not pulled away from me. I stay under his brace every minute. It will only damage him more if I over face him. Being an arabian, or ?, his stamina to circle me in a round pen for 2 hours with me just standing there was an answer before I even asked a question or lifted a finger, the week I adopted him. I could tell he had been whip trained – he is a master at facing up. Even at liberty he wouldn’t walk behind, beside or in front of me. He didn’t show curiosity, unless we were clicker training.

Every ‘thing’, every ounce of progress we make is absolutely thrilling, and the next time I approach him he is 10 times more trusting. Today he followed me via lead rope, and he walked straight ahead… We truly can’t understand the trauma that has occurred, or the self preservation that goes into allowing someone to lead us when we have a halter on our head… I wish he could still be a wild horse in full control of his destiny, but in todays world as a horse, his life would be traumatic and short lived. All I can do for him is honor his spirit and work with him in his range of acceptance. In turn, he needs to follow my lead and allow me to care for the issues that need maintenance and care. We progress… and I love him unconditionally.

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