| Nik from HorseTenders working with a stallion
| Nik meets one of the foals, April
| Melissa introduces the halter to Cactus
The past few weeks have been an adventure for us on the equine end of things. We're almost used to the rapid pace of surrenders during winter months, and we look forward to the spring, as the ground clears and grazing one's horse can help supplement the hay for owners. But this year the pace hasn't slowed, perhaps because of the heavy snows we have received; many parts of New England are still covered in snow. So the surrender calls are still coming, and we're substantially over the number of horses we received during this same time last year. Part of that includes a large surrender of Mustangs & Mustang-Arab crosses, who have never been handled. So on top of the usual animal care and medical treatments, we need to fit in gentling a group of horses enough to assess what they need for medical care, trim their hooves, examine wounds, etc. It's a pretty tall order...
Thankfully, the horse world is a good one. Our friends at NHSPCA recommended that we speak to Stephanie Kokal and her son Nik, of HorseTenders. They specialize in Mustangs, and have an international reputation for working with the breed using natural horsemanship. Within 24 hours of our call, Stephanie & Nik came out to spend the afternoon with some of our Mustangs, giving the staff some strategies to work with them in our hectic environment. Their help bolstered our spirits, and made the impossible seem suddenly possible again. In the photos here, you'll see Nik working with a stallion, gradually enabling him to move, change directions, stopping, and even introducing the halter over time. This horse had already become comfortable with our staff in the past two weeks, allowing us to touch him, scratch his forehead and his back end (he loves it!), but it was re-affirming for us to see we are headed in the right direction.
Our biggest challenge is always time; for a small staff to get the basics done each day is difficult, so we are always seeking volunteers to help with chores. This would allow our staff to progress faster with evaluations, speed along adoptions, and answer the never-ending surrender calls. If you are interested in learning more about our Volunteer Program, click here. And a big shout-out to HorseTenders for their generosity and support!