Cloud the day she arrived at the rescue.
Cloud two weeks after arriving at the rescue.
Cloud after about 6 months - healthy and used to people.
Cloud was placed with a rescue organization after being removed by law
enforcement officers from a neglectful owner. When Cloud arrived at the
rescue she was several hundred pounds underweight and was very scared of people.
In fact, she was loaded through a chute system so no one would have to
touch her and she was allowed to walk off the trailer on her own and was herded
into a stall.
While Cloud certainly needed to gain weight, the rescue also needed to be
able to catch, halter, and handle her. Jennifer decided to take on this
Since Cloud was so thin and hungry, Jennifer used food as a motivator.
For Cloud's first meal, Jennifer stood in her stall holding a bucket with
feed. Cloud stared at Jennifer for a few minutes before she decided to
eat anything. After her first bite of grain, she kept eating - taking a bite
and then stepping back to watch Jennifer while she ate. Jennifer talked to her
while she ate but made no attempt to touch her. They repeated this
routine for her next few meals.
Within a few days, Cloud was comfortable eating from the bucket while
Jennifer held it and talked to her. Although she was leery of humans,
it was obvious that she was not a truly wild or feral horse - she had been
handled at some point in her life. While Cloud ate, Jennifer reached out
to scratch her neck. Cloud initially jumped back, but she was more hungry
than scared so she came back for another bite. Jennifer reached out and
scratched her again. After several times, Cloud settled down to eat and let
Jennifer continue scratching her neck.
When Jennifer tried to scratch down her side, Cloud moved out of her reach. She
would let Jennifer scratch her neck, but she would not tolerate Jennifer
touching her anywhere else. Jennifer needed to get a hold of her and push past her comfort
zones, so she slowly reached out and clipped a leadrope to the halter
Cloud wore. (Jennifer does not recommend leaving a halter on a horse in most
situations - if you have a wild horse or one you cannot touch, use a breakaway
halter or a leather halter so they can break free if they need).
Jennifer stepped out of Cloud's stall and let Cloud walk around, trailing
the rope. Jennifer stood outside the stall to watch Cloud in case she got
tangled and needed help. When Cloud stepped on the leadrope, she felt pressure
on her halter and threw her head up (horses have a natural tendency to move
into pressure until they are taught to move away from it). Once she
relaxed and lowered her head, the pressure released. After stepping on the rope
a few more times, she learned to stop moving, lower her head, and even step
back to get relief from the pressure. She had taught herself to give to
Jennifer entered Cloud's stall again and picked up the leadrope. Cloud initially
pulled back when she felt pressure, but Jennifer held the rope still and
Cloud gave to the pressure. Jennifer was able to hold Cloud still as she moved
closer to her and began rubbing her neck and back. Since Cloud let
Jennifer pet and touch her, Jennifer left her alone to eat the rest of her
meal - a first for Cloud.
The next day, Jennifer once again snapped the leadrope on Cloud, held
her as she pet her and worked her way down both front legs. Whenever Jennifer
touched a new area, Cloud would tense. Jennifer kept rubbing the area until
Cloud again relaxed before moving to a new place.
Cloud had an injury on her leg that Jennifer needed to examine. She slowly
worked her way down Cloud's leg until she was near the injury. When Jennifer
went to examine the wound - Cloud snapped at her. Jennifer reprimanded
her with a loud "No!" but did not hit Cloud. She continued rubbing the
area around the wound until Cloud relaxed. Jennifer believes that Cloud
snapped at her as a defense. She felt uncomfortable and was warning Jennifer
to back off. Unhandled horses can be very defensive, so it is important
to watch their body language and keep yourself safe while working around them.
Next it was time to work on leading Cloud.
Cloud acted like she did not know how to lead. Jennifer stood to the side of Cloud,
pulled her head to the side, and put pressure on the leadrope until Cloud took
a step forward. She then let Cloud rest and scratched her neck (something
Cloud seemed to enjoy). She then asked for another step. After several
tries, they were able to walk in circles in Cloud's stall - a step at a time.
After practicing leading in her stall for several days, Jennifer decided
to try leading Cloud to a paddock. The entire area was fenced, so if Cloud got
away from Jennifer she could not go too far.
Slowly they made their way to the paddock. Cloud took only a few steps
forward at a time, but when they got to the paddock she seemed happy
to be free to eat some grass. Jennifer used a little grain when it was time
to catch her, and they made their way back to the barn.
Each day, Jennifer spent time leading Cloud or rubbing her. She began
using brushes to gently groom Cloud. As Cloud grew more comfortable,
Jennifer was able to do more around her. After several weeks, it was
time for her to move to a new foster home. She could now be caught and
was leading better, and she was allowing people to rub and handle most of
her body. Cloud's foster home continued the work Jennifer began and eventually
Cloud was leading well and was adopted as a pet.