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humans and at other horses and are ultimately labeled as “dangerous.” The slightest noise sends them over the edge. On the flip side there are some horses that remain subdued and suffer in silence. Before I share our experiences with Talon, I need to stress a few

points. We are not playing the ‘blame game’ of who did what to this horse. We are not accusing anyone of bad training or mishandling. After three years with us, Talon was no longer dangerous and was rehabilitated, and fortunately he has moved on to a wonderful career with his new owner. But the journey of creating a happy horse was like peeling an onion. Each layer took time and patience to discover until it exposed the next. Here’s Talon’s story.


In May 2005 we were approached by a local sport horse trainer who

frequently imported Warmbloods. At that time he had a five-year-old Hungarian Warmblood named Talon, with fabulous jumping bloodlines, that wasn’t doing well. He was imported from Hungary two years prior as a stallion and gelded shortly thereafter at age three. I was told the horse was being given to us because he didn’t like being

“on the bit” and couldn’t stay consistently sound. He was supposedly safe to ride. The trainer felt certain we could handle Talon. Upon arrival in the trailer, fireworks were already brewing. While unloading off the trailer, Talon let out a kick, just missing his owner, and managed to continually spook his way over to the portable metal panel pen that was near our round pen. At five years old, he was a handsome, well-built light chestnut gelding standing 16.2 hands. As I walked over towards the pen to give him water and get a closer look, his hind end was towards me, and he spooked and kicked backwards at me during take-off. Of course he was in the pen and I was not, but it still surprised me. Safe to ride? This creature wasn’t safe to stand in a pen, let alone ride. As it turned out, the more we uncovered Talon’s problems, the

more we found that my initial assessment based upon his first hour at our farm was pretty accurate. Not only did this horse have an assortment of physical issues, he had several psychological problems as well. One by one, we peeled back each layer of Talon’s troubles over the next three years. We observed the following:

■ Talon could not work in the round pen (at liberty) without trying to climb the walls, especially to the right. In other words, his body wasn’t flexible enough to bend to the right on a 20-meter circle, even at a walk.

■ His right front foot was possibly a club foot and could be causing a problem.

■ He attacked other horses in his pasture, next door and over the fence unless the fence was electric; especially at mealtimes.

■ He was very vocal and aggressive during mealtimes unless he had unlimited hay and/or lush pasture.


The potentially clubbed foot and his shoeing was one of our first concerns. We commissioned a vet and a farrier to discuss this issue with us shortly after we “obtained” our new Warmblood. As if we weren’t even there, these two professionals discussed what kind of shoe and wedge to put on. Finally I could no longer keep my mouth shut. “Hold it just a moment!” I

Warmbloods Today 29

Early days working in the round pen with Joe during his rehabilitation program. Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28  |  Page 29  |  Page 30  |  Page 31  |  Page 32  |  Page 33  |  Page 34  |  Page 35  |  Page 36  |  Page 37  |  Page 38  |  Page 39  |  Page 40  |  Page 41  |  Page 42  |  Page 43  |  Page 44  |  Page 45  |  Page 46  |  Page 47  |  Page 48  |  Page 49  |  Page 50  |  Page 51  |  Page 52  |  Page 53  |  Page 54  |  Page 55  |  Page 56  |  Page 57  |  Page 58  |  Page 59  |  Page 60  |  Page 61  |  Page 62  |  Page 63  |  Page 64  |  Page 65  |  Page 66  |  Page 67  |  Page 68  |  Page 69  |  Page 70  |  Page 71  |  Page 72  |  Page 73  |  Page 74  |  Page 75  |  Page 76  |  Page 77
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