RURAL DEWEY — So far, May has been absolutely perfect here at The Society of Hooved Animal Rescue and Emergency. The pastures and surrounding areas are finally starting to dry up.
The horses in the stalls were getting mighty antsy to get outside. They know the green stuff is coming up. When you look across the pastures and see green hues, it does look pretty.
There is a big issue, though. Well, a small one also. It’s so hard to tell the true colors of our horses. Most look a drab brown. The minis, having shorter legs, have mud up to their bellies. Tall ones and short ones are in need of grooming sessions.
The only time we have to groom is when they all come in at night. Then we’re so busy with getting their feed and water done that there is little time.
The mud on their coats starts to itch, and since they are shedding now, they try to rub on anything handy, even on volunteers.
Michelle has grooming every second and fourth Saturday of the month. Contact me and I’d be happy to schedule you for grooming. With 45 horses it takes a lot of hands.
I did say we have 45 horses, and shortly this will change. Many of our horses are pasture pets or sanctuary animals. Few are adoptable or ready for adoption. It takes special people to do an adoption. Sure horses are so cute, and everyone wants one. But one needs to consider the space available, the financial obligation and personal time available to give the animal.
We do at this time have adoptions pending. Two of our minis, Levi and Jude, are going to a new home. Cody, a Halflinger, will be joining the short guys. There is a young woman waiting for him to come home so she can ride him. SHARE volunteers work very hard to get the animals ready for adoption.
To get our guys/gals presentable for adoption, some time needs to be spent with them. This is where groundwork comes in. Groundwork consists of exercises that you do with them while staying on the ground and lead the horse on a halter and a long lead rope.
Groundwork is an important part of the training of horses and can be done at just about any age of the horse. Young and old benefit from this.
The horse learns to stay next to you, both while walking and trotting, while walking backwards, halting and waiting, then do turns to the left and right. We do lots of “walks and whoas” so the horse learns to stop when we stop. This is the basic lesson they learn.
Grooming is another part of this training. They learn to accept being touched all over their body (they all love a good grooming). They look so sharp with brushed flowing manes and tails.
As time goes on, horse and handler learn to move to different parts of the horse — for example, head down, butt over, front over, step, back and other commands. We use verbal and physical commands so that eventually all we have to do is look at what we want to move, say the word and horse responds. We also work on lunging the horse, which helps the horse to become more in-tuned with the handler.
Groundwork strengthens the bonds between you and the horse, helps with teaching your horse to be “brave” and follow you as the leader. It helps to overcome their fears by working around cones, walking through gates, stepping over obstacles and so much more. The horse becomes more accepting of the strange and fun things we do and makes them more adjusted to life away from SHARE.
As you can see there is more to SHARE than mucking stalls, feeding and watering the animals. This is a serious but fun organization. You can be part of this by just contacting me at email@example.com.
Heide Fogal, a Rantoul resident, is volunteer coordinator at SHARE.