Equine Testimonials: Owners in "Situations"...
Would you like to talk to someone who has worked with us? Owners are happy to talk with you! Start with the YELLOW text below to quickly browse recovery stories. Please tell us your story and we'll set you up with a past client who was in a similar situation and went through the Willing Equine process.
"My Clydesdale cross was kicking every farrier that came out. I saw every minute of the work with Casey, start to finish, and I still don't even believe it. It's amazing." -Jess Noonan, Palmer MA
EMERGENCY Trailer Load Phobia.
East Lyme, CT
"Security was trying to close down the state park for the night. It was getting dark and my 4 year old horse still refused to get on the trailer to come home, which, although he had only left home twice, was out of character for him. After trying all the standard and obvious bribes and coercions, I made the call, hoping Casey was available. I did not want him to have a bad experience, and he is too big to be fighting with. She came down right away, and using just a rope lead line and small treats, she taught him to teach himself to load. As the experience was a learning process versus a fight, the next day he put himself on the trailer again and again and seemed completely comfortable and in control. Even without treats, we couldn't keep him out! It's a good way to go, to avoid having to undo the damage from a horse that's been forced or even beat into the trailer, and a way to avoid injuries for both the animal and the people!"
-Heather Elliot, Barn Manager, East Lyme CT
Bridle Phobia. Laconia, NH
"I wanted to give you an update and also to give you a testimonial! The reason for me being so long in writing to you is that I wanted to wait until I knew for sure that Jessie was over her issue with her ear. Jessie is a rock solid trail mount and was to be my niece's 4H horse starting this year. This horse was a rescue horse and has been a gem for us in every way except when we wanted to bridle her. The problem we had was that it would take 30 minutes of trying to get the bridle on her, and we always ended up practically tricking her to do it.
To recap, this mare would not let you even close to her left ear.; I think we determined she must have been repeatedly severely ear twitched in her past. As you said, you began pealing away layers of the issue or trauma as if it were an onion. Even after the first session, she was still really nervous about letting you do more than just brush by the ear. She slept on it and you worked with her first thing in the morning. We put her away again for a few hours and you worked with her again that afternoon. At the end of the second day, both you and I did bridle her, my entire hand enveloping her ear. Of course, my niece and I were in tears and so was most of your crowd.
Long after the clinic, I was still afraid to let my niece bridle her without my presence for fear she would fail and we would take steps backwards. This was probably silly on my part, but I am protective of them both. But a month ago we were at a barn for a riding lesson and Jessie was to be the next in the ring. The riding instructor went over to Jessie and just threw the bridle on her before I had a chance to tell her to wait for me! Jessie just stood there, took the bridle and went about her work as if it were nothing at all.
My niece actually bridles Jessie completely different from the way I do it, and so do the instructors. So, again you were right: she learned to accept the concept, not just a specific action.
I am eternally grateful for your work and guidance through the process of healing my horse. And I do believe this was a healing process for Jessie. She and Rachael have definitely become one and that was my wish from the very beginning. "
-Patti Page, Laconia NH
Bridge Phobia. Greene, RI
Casey said that my case was the closest she's seen to an actual ghost story. Arie, my new 4 yr old beautiful Arab/Paint gelding was refusing to go over the very solid FLAT WITH THE GROUND, short (4x7ft) bridge covered in dirt and mats that leads to the back grass fields. You'd hardly know it's not just flat ground. I had tried all the cowboy training techniques, tricks, and food, waiting to see if he would figure it out himself, but after 4 months of this, nothing would convince him to step on the bridge. Even my other horse, King "the elder statesman" would actually try to encourage him to join-up with him while he grazed a few feet beyond the bridge, but the 4 yr old just pranced in place, always unable to take the first step. And yet, on another bridge on my property, one that is identical in construction, higher, scarier, and with a fast flowing noisy river under it, that one he's fine with! But Arie has never stepped on this low bridge even once in his life, so his fear is a mystery.
Casey worked with him all afternoon on day 1, both assessing and trying to convince him to start tackling his phobia, when she observed that he had a very unusual belief: he acted as if the 2 inch high bridge were a tall cliff and he believed "he would fall to his death." Casey said it would be a waste of money to pay her to convince him because she could set up a much cheaper, "detailed-homework-plan" which would force him to teach himself in safe stages, like a game he would play against himself. The plan involved a "scientifically designed bait trail", "support stations" and days off to rest and recharge in between his learning sessions. Casey was guiding me through each micro step via emails and phone calls, which gave me the help I needed to setup precise games at each step.
Arie went through about 4 different levels of courage and change, and Casey was amazing in the way she guided me through it. Whenever I got discouraged, she helped me understand what Arie was thinking. The bottom line is that it took about 5 weeks (without much effort from me) from day 1 until the day he took his first step onto the bridge. And within 30 minutes of that first step, he crossed the bridge on his own and ate grass...it was fantastic and I witnessed the entire process of an equine mind developing courage and self-confidence. Having him "play himself in chess" has also built his confidence in tackling other “scary things", even with me in the saddle.
But if you're wondering why an otherwise normal horse would have such a deep, dark belief about falling off an invisible cliff at a place he'd had NO experience with at all... well, here's the ghost story. On that very spot, half a year before Arie had even set foot on my property (he came from NY), my beloved riding horse had a mortal accident on this very spot. X-rays showed that he shattered every part of his shoulder while galloping across this bridge to interact with an unknown horse who was on the road, riding by our property. I had to put him down 2 yards from the bridge. By the time Arie came to live with us, King the elder stateman and I had both already finally made our peace with what happened and were not showing Arie any anxiety about the bridge, but it seems that Arie was getting the message to refuse interaction with this bridge from somewhere...
This type of behavior problem could be very expensive to solve, but Casey was very conscience about not wasting our money on an inefficient approach. She said "it doesnt cost you anything to have the horse play himself in chess!" Call Casey if you have a horse related behavior problem...follow her instructions...be patient..and watch the magic happen!!"
-Carol Allen, Greene RI
Lion Attack Induced Separation Anxiety. VERMONT/FLORIDA
People had often commented on how well behaved my horses have been. However my two previously independent competition horses had been jointly attacked one night while in south Florida by an unknown assailant (to this day we don't know whether it was animal or human) who left them covered with blood with long, curved cuts from withers to hindquarters. One horse also had three extremely painful punctures on the abdomen. They emerged from the experience neurotically bonded, and with one aggressively protective of the other.
Although their physical wounds had healed, four years later I still could not leave a horse alone, and they could not travel alone as before. It was more than a standard case of bonded horses. For example, one time on the way off the farm, while solo in the trailer, one of the horses jumped the breastbar of our gooseneck when the other called to him, becoming trapped upside down in the headspace area with his hind legs hung over the breastbar. Another time I was paged at a competition when one repeatedly tried to jump the temporary stabling (8ft) and, failing that, was almost 3ft down in what was apparently to be an escape under the stall wall. I had already consulted various trainers to no avail.
Casey's approach methodically resolved the trauma inside maybe 6 sessions. She is professional, timely, kind, extremely intelligent, and remarkably effective, which is important because her approach is decidedly unusual. I still can't put into words what she does, even after watching it carefully, but it actively engages the horses, and she carefully manages their mental stress level so that they can learn whatever specific answers they need.
First, Casey evaluated each horse separately to make sure it was aware of all its own body parts (which I was dubious about, until it worked). When she reacquainted them with their "missing" areas (she calls it "learned paralysis"), I noticed they both began to walk around in separate fields without anxious concern for where the other one was We drove each horse around the arena with the other loose to observe their concerns, progressing to separate road trips.
Casey is an extremely keen perceiver of animal emotions, and knowing that she was making sure each horse wasn't pushed too far was psychologically critical to me. (I was horribly nervous about those first solo trailer rides.)
In my opinion, Casey, leveraging her years with other species, has pioneered an incredibly effective new approach to horse training (and behavioral problems) that is a leap forward. I have had horses for 34 years, and I have seen everything from the old "show 'em who's boss" methods, to current traditional training techniques, to various new natural horsemanship approaches, and I think Casey's approach is different and more effective because she has the horse actively engage and understand and participate.
I am now looking forward to using Casey's approach to build a killer freestyle ride since one horse consistently either shuts down or blows up with conventional dressage trainers, and I want us to move up in level!"
-CJ Stumpf, East Randolph VT