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What's Been Going on With Skye?

17th April 2022

I've been really busy the last couple of weeks getting stuff set up for starting my business, I haven't had time to post. I wanted to share a bit about what me and Skye have been up to.

She has been out 24/7 since November in the most amazing huge field with a fantastic herd of super chilled horses. It has done her the world of good after being on-off box rest so much last year and bring on her own for quite a lot of that. Her wound from her sarcoids has almost fully healed, it is only about 2cm long now and healing fantastically. Being in such a great environment has definitely helped her heal better as she is more relaxed and moving about.

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I had been working on getting her up to the gate as when she first went out in November, as soon as I asked her to come with me away from the herd, she would panic, rear and bolt. It was awful seeing her like that, and I totally felt like it was my fault 5 months later and she would come up to the gate and along the lane to the yard, but I could tell she wasn't happy. She kept wanting to stop and I could tell she was quite anxious from her body language. The worst day was when we were coming back to the field and she panicked and bolted off. Thankfully she stopped at the gate, but I was really shaken.

I decided that we couldn't go on like this, Skye clearly didn't feel safe with me. I decided to ask Felicity George who is an equine Behaviourist to come and give me some help as I didn't know what to do. She explained that Skye likely experienced trauma from everything that happened last year and doesn't trust me or feel safe with me as I had been forcing her to leave her friends. Skye had experienced such a high level of stress for so long that her body needs time to relax. I have been learning a lot about anxiety and stress through my own mental health and all the things that happen in the brain and body are the same in all mammals. Prolonged or acute stress can lead to trauma in horses and humans.

Felicity suggested that I need to allow Skye to choose to come with me, that if she learns that I will listen to her when she is unsure or anxious, she will feel much safer and more relaxed with me. We had to go back to square one as when I gave Skye the option of allowing me to put on her headcollar, she turned her head away and walked off, clearly saying that she didn't want me to do this. I have been working at this for over a week now, using positive reinforcement and Skye has let me put her headcollar on a couple of times and has started following me in the field a little bit, saying she is starting to feel like she would like to spend time with me It will take a long time to fully get Skye's trust back but will be worth it in the end, one of the big things I have learnt since owning Skye is that if you think you are going slow enough trying to teach something, you need to go even slower.

I was a bit anxious about posting this as I know some people may disagree with what I am doing, might say I am letting Skye take over, do what she wants and not respect me. But I feel in my gut that this is the right approach. For me horses are not just things we own so we can do whatever we like, when we want to, but a living, feeling animal who deserves respect, love and patience. Our relationship with them should work both ways. Before I got Skye I had an idea in my head about what horse ownership would look like, the things I should be doing, but my plans have totally changed. I want to find things that both me and Skye enjoy doing together.

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