Here at Colorado Horse Rescue (CHR), we find pride in the various behind-the-scenes aspects of taking care of our herd. From the meticulous daily care of our equines to the sometimes intensive medical rehabilitation they receive, every necessary component of our routine must work together in order to help us create a safe, stable environment for the horses we serve. In all the ways we support these extraordinary creatures, you will see a few basic philosophies religiously represented: fairness, consistency, and out-of-the-box thinking.
Fairness is the first measure we incorporate into all we do with our horses. Unfortunately, the equines that come through our gates have often not been offered the kindness and fairness they deserve. It’s not uncommon for us to welcome horses who have been rehomed due to not fitting the pre-prescribed mold that the industry or their owner desired for them. Instead of following traditions which require a horse to yield robotically to their human handlers, our training team approaches each horse as an individual and asseses them in a way that can help uncover their true talents and understand why they may act in the ways they do. With this information, we see horses being empowered to approach training sessions more confidently knowing they are better understood. Leading with fairness, patience, and cooperation is a way for us to reinforce safer and more positive behaviors which ultimately benefit both horse and handler.
At CHR, we believe fairness cannot be effectively achieved without consistency. To be fair with our animals, we should maintain consistency in our sessions. We know the “who” and “how” of handling our horses every day can impact the results we see in training. To be consistent, we must create clear rules for both horse and handler to follow and be persistent in reinforcing them. While horses should ideally look to their handlers as leaders, they can quickly become insecure if their handler doesn’t consistently communicate their expectations. This lack of safe guardianship can lead to behavioral issues which can quickly become dangerous. Alternatively, when horses trust their handler and know them to be a fair and consistent leader, the partnership formed is often pleasant and productive.
For some horses, fairness and consistency aren’t quite enough to foster a relationship of mutual trust. We see remarkable success in training when we have opportunities to think outside the box. The horse community as a whole has a notorious allegiance to tradition and can often view horses as tools. Once the “tool” is deemed rusty, unusable, and/or not what the user expected, it’s accepted practice to dispose of the old and replace with a new. At CHR we strive, not only in our training but as an organization, to shift this paradigm by seeking better ways to cultivate horse-human relationships. With thoughtful creativity, we are able to offer horses multiple paths to the same outcome. Just like humans, not all horses learn or think the same way. We love being able to see nontraditional horses progress in training simply by offering an alternative technique.
We believe that these philosophies of fairness, consistency, and out-of-the-box thinking applied thoughtfully have the collective power to radically change the world of equine welfare and training. We hope that as we grow, we will have greater opportunities to educate our community and to continue finding mindful growth in our shared love for horses.