Rebel and I were slowly building confidence together. He was still very nervous of strangers, especially men. However, the car park, for all my distaste for sharing “my” space, was the perfect place for training. The amount and variety of litter, although disgusting on every level, was useful as a training aid. Everything from plastic bags, McDonalds polystyrene food and drinks containers, tin cans, fishing line wrapping around legs, inconsiderate traffic, rude and aggressive humans and dogs - all useful for desensitising.
Dogs are not such a problem. When we introduced our own (also rescue) dogs, we let them chase the pony and goat in the paddock, under very close supervision. Eventually the pony and goat stopped running, and threatened to attack. When the dogs persisted, a smart kick, and a headbutt to the ribs stopped play instantly. When Rebel realised that I was on hand to back him up with the lunging whip, he was happy to assert his authority thereafter. I still warn dog owners that if my pony feels threatened, he will attack - and I will defend him with the whip. We have never had a dog-related incident.
Rule 8: all’s fair in love and war!
© Sue Palmer, The Horse Physio, 2021
Treating your horse with care, connection, curiosity and compassion