Little George came into our care as he was found in a state of panic galloping up and down a busy road late at night. He was pouring with sweat and his legs were swollen from his hooves pounding onto the hard road surface…we will probably never know what frightened him so much or how he ended up in the dangerous situation he was in. Just looking at George’s state, both mentally and physically we could guess he had had a very rough start to life.
Luckily for George, the police lady who was called to the scene was experienced with horses and after 2 hours of persistent patience she managed to grab the tether rope that was hanging from George’s halter.
Staff arrived early in the morning to a surprise chestnut pony looking very sorry for himself in a stable. His legs were swollen and hot to touch, his feet overgrown and he was also exhausted.
We named him George as that day was St.Georges day. We called him ‘Little George’ as we already had a much bigger George in our care.
As George healed up physically and he settled into his new life with us, his mental scars began to show and George was proving to be a challenging member of the Hope Pastures family. He was a mixture of frightened, energetic, hormonal and un-handled as well as clearly having a bleak view of any humans at all from his past life experiences. Who can blame him- no horses are born damaged, it is only us humans who can shape their outlook on life and, sadly, for Little George he had been born into a life of cruelty and neglect. We figured out with our Vet that George was around 4-7 years old, so much of his behaviour was learned and embedded in his mind. George’s hooves were overgrown on arrival, but he was lacking in trust in humans and would defend himself strongly if anyone tried to pick his hooves up. After all, from his point of view if his hoof was surrendered to an untrustworthy human, how would he ever escape if he didn’t have the means to run? We could tell from his rescue situation that running away and defending himself was how George had learned to deal with danger.
Eventually, we decided that George’s hooves would need trimming under sedation from our vet. Except that George put up a massive fight with the vet and did not want to be sedated. George injured himself, the vet and the farrier in the attempt to sedate him.
We were left with a dilemma after being advised strongly to have George put to sleep for safety reasons and for his own welfare. He was labelled as a dangerous pony, unfixable and a lost cause.
After searching on the internet and asking for advice from others who had experienced similar with their ponies, fate decided George’s future. A couple of experienced horse owners who had ponies of their own who they had helped overcome behavioural issues had seen our plea for advice, and one of them, Julie called us the very next day. We discussed George in a lot of detail with her, and the following week both Julie and the lady who owned the stables made the journey to meet George and assess him.
Lucky for him, these wonderful ladies could see the real George – frightened, traumatised, but also sensitive and intelligent, just like we could.
Despite the warnings from other professionals about George’s behaviour, we all decided that he was far from a lost cause and just needed the chance to show how loving he could be with a trusting bond and a secure home where he would be free to be a pony, finally!
George made the journey over to Cheshire and, within a few weeks, he was allowing his hooves to be picked up and cleaned out at liberty (with no restraints).
He had settled into a herd of 7 other horses and ponies and was in his element in a 30 acre field to gallop around in.
George had not much idea about boundaries with other ponies either which had been a problem when he lived with us at Hope Pastures, because we have so many elderly and small ponies that George would not respect and would play way too rough with. At his new home, George fitted in well because the other members of the herd could tolerate him and tell him off when needed, as they were mainly young and fit horses.
George was re-homed in February 2009 and lives a happy and free life. He has his hooves trimmed regularly without a halter on, he wears a rug happily and he EVEN lets the vet give him his injections! All of this was made possible purely with positive reinforcement training, where the pony is rewarded either with a food reward or a scratch, a way of letting the horse know when they have done well. Any negative behaviour is ignored and so the training is really enjoyable, effective and positive for both the handler and the pony. In George’s case, especially, many other forms of training would have only increased his negative behaviour. Many ‘Natural Horsemanship’ methods actually involve pressure and release, ensuring that the animal chooses to take part in the desired behaviour not through reward but to avoid pressure. George is such a spirited boy that we are sure this would only have damaged him further. George’s story led us on our path to becoming a positive reinforcement training rescue centre, so Georges rescue really did make a big impact on how we help horses with emotional baggage at Hope Pastures, so thanks George, Julie and Rachel!
Adopt one of our residents – it makes a brilliant Birthday, Christmas or Anniversary present.
The dude with the crazy forelock. Well-behaved, the opposite of his mane
Our most inquisitive (AKA nosey!) donk
The one-horse job-creation scheme, always rolling in mud
Terrified when he came to the sanctuary, now growing in confidence
£5 buys a bale of hay for your adoptee
£10 buys a bale of hay and two bags of carrots
£15 buys a bedding bedding bale.
Donate to our wish list... every little helps.
Ponies need their feet trimming every 4-6 weeks.
Quality haynets with extra-small holes
Makes hair more pliable for easier grooming
Integrated, multi-modality method of equine massage.
Non invasive holistic technique.
Gives optimum levels of vits, mins and amino acids for our ponies.
We always need these in stock.
Our ponies love these licks.
Low in sugar, our ponies eat this every day as part of their dinner.
Essential annually for every pony to keep them healthy.
Not nice to talk about, but essential.