In my last blog, I described my thought-provoking first meeting with Max. At the time of our meeting, he was a rescue horse with a dangerous, dark side.
Max had been known to attack people on occasion. So, to keep myself safe, I had to teach him that I didn’t approve of biting. I did this by smacking his nose when he tried to bite me. He never tried it again. As it turned out, this experience set the tone for the rest of our relationship.
I successfully moved Max from the horse rescue to the barn where I kept my other rescue horse, Banjo. As I began to work with Max, I found a gentle, willing soul. He was nothing like the vicious horse who’d been described by the rescue-facility staff. I marveled at Max’s sweet, goofy behavior.
Max was actually a comedian who loved to play. A rope hanging in the barn became the best toy ever!
After I taught him not to bite, never once did Max try to hurt me.
In fact, he was he was so loving and sweet, I often wondered if I’d gotten the wrong horse. I was confused. Why had a vicious horse suddenly changed into a sweet, friendly companion?
I came up with all kinds of theories. I finally chalked it up to horses’ intuitive instincts. Horses are masters at sensing our intentions.
My true intention with Max was to create a loving, respectful relationship with him. I wasn’t afraid to create healthy boundaries to keep myself safe.
Max had tested that boundary once in the beginning. He needed to know that I’d follow through. Afterward, he was content to respect my boundaries and leadership. I’d proven myself trustworthy in his eyes. He was then safe to relax, to just be a horse.
Max did still test my boundaries from time to time, just to keep it interesting, but there was no viciousness in his actions.
Over the weeks that followed, Max excelled in his training. He’s one of the smartest horses I’ve ever known. He loved his lessons. He’d greet me at the pasture gate when I drove into the barn.
As I worked with Max, I realized he was also teaching me an important life lesson—that I could maintain boundaries and still have healthy relationships.
In fact, I learned that boundaries are vital to healthy, successful relationships with both horses and people.
If you want more information on rescue horses or you want to locate a rescue near you, please check out AHomeForEveryHorse.com. Equine.com and the Active Interest Media Equine Network have joined forces with the American Horse Council's Unwanted Horse Coalition to launch A Home for Every Horse Project.
This project helps find homes for America's 170,000 to 200,000 horses in need of care and shelter.
Here's how it works:
- Begin the search for your next equine partner at AHomeForEveryHorse.com. You can search horses waiting for homes at nonprofit shelters across the country. Browse by rescue horse, or find rescue organizations in your area.
- Visit the site's "Services" section to learn about your local rescue organizations. Find out how you can volunteer, donate, or simply spread the word.
- Look for upcoming stories on EquiSearch.com related to horse rescue.
If your 501(c)(3) rescue organization would like to join the Home For Every Horse Project, call (866) 467-7323. Equine.com is a part of Active Interest Media Equine Network.