"I was recently contacted by an equine chiropractor who stated she had been asked by a client of mine to work with a horse with a reputation for being dangerous. Her exact quote was, "I've been told not to touch this horse with a 10 foot pole."
I was asked to share what I knew about the horse. It was clear I was going to have to do some damage control if this horse was going to receive the treatment he needed...
His owner had first introduce him to me by saying, "I Remember the trainer stating, "It took 5 grooms to get a bridle on him at a horse show."
To read the complete blog about Pepper's uncertain fate (twice in a kill pen) and chiropractic journey, Aggression is Often Pain, click here.
Here are many of the updates from Pepper's new owner over the past two years:
"Ginny, I appreciate all the help, feedback and knowledge that you have given me. It has helped me press on when so many people told me to get rid of Pepper, or said so many negative things about owning a horse like him. Your reassurance that he was, in fact, traumatized and not just mean spirited, or simply a horse that was taught bad habits really helped. When he told you, “I’m never going to be safe,” knowing how he felt helped click in my head what I was dealing with. Here is a photo of him practically falling asleep while the farrier works on him. His lead rope is hanging on a tie ring, he could pull away if he wants to. But, we ask him to stand and he CHOOSES to stay.
The horse that “didn’t like to be groomed” when I first got him is now relaxed and actually enjoys being brushed. The horse that "didn’t like a shower" now stands perfectly to be rinsed off. The horse that used to trample me when I walked him now respects my space. The stand-offish horse I would retrieve from the pasture now comes when I call him. The horse that I didn’t think really cared if I came down to the stable or not now shows affection. He still has more trauma to work through, but I see much more of a willingness to connect.You've convinced me that traumatized horses can heal!"
[Added one month later] "I have been on cloud 9 all day. I'm just sooo happy about Pepper. He looks so much more content. I look at the progress he has made since I bought him in September. He really has come a long way!! He is coming out of his shell and looks like he's enjoying life more and trusting more. Thank you, thank you, thank you for all your efforts. This horse could have ended up as dog food, but somehow he came into my life and I had doubts if I could handle him. Now I would never let him go... Thank you for all your help!"
[Added one month later] "Pepper is an absolute treasure. He has taught me, a psychologist, so much about trauma and recovery than a textbook ever could. It has changed my perspectives on my relationships with animals. I feet such gratitude from him. It only gets better from here. You've convinced me that traumatized horses can heal!... Thank you for all your help!"
[Added three months later] "I am soooo proud of Pepper! He has made huge progress. The Vet said he could be ridden after working on developing his back through lunging, stretches, etc., and if he shows no signs of discomfort. He had another adjustment last month and I was told by the chiropractor that he looks fabulous.
Pepper is cooperative with all his stretches and has a great attitude. He is doing great. Taking baby steps with him. He is good about being tacked up, mounted, and ridden. I'm working with a trainer who has experience with horses like pepper.
Today he showed no signs of discomfort. No pinning of ears, no tail swishing, no chomping at the bit, no teeth grinding. His eye was soft and he was greatly rewarded with affection, treats and told how good he was. He was very relaxed. I could walk him around on the buckle. We kept it short and pleasant. I'm so happy for both of us."
[Added one month later] " Look how soft and supple he is in the pic. (photo attached) I have the most delicate contact with his mouth right there. He goes in a frame all on his own. He is such a dream to ride."
[Added two months later] " The horse who used to be terrified of soap suds! (Photo attached) As I'm scrubbing him he wraps his neck around me and licks my arm."
[Added one month later] "Hey, just thought I'd give a Pepper update. Remember how reactive he used to be? Do you remember how his nervous system appeared to be really sensitive and high wired?
I noticed the other day and I've been noticing it more and more that his fly reflex has calmed down significantly. Before if you brushed, or touched, anywhere near his chest his fly reflex was super reactive. He would nip that area super quickly. I was brushing him the other day and I noticed it didn't even trigger at all.
Now he likes getting a deep tissue curry session. He doesn't react if I put a saddle on him. When I hold up the bridle he opens his mouth and grabs the bit himself!
Remember the trainer stating, "It took 5 grooms to get a bridle on him at a horse show"? I should take a video of it because it is quite comical how he grabs the snaffle with his lips and I just slip the bridle over his ears. It's like he's ready to "go to work."
I should mention that I give him a cookie every time to show my appreciation for his cooperation. So, it could just be all about the cookie."
--Jana M. Riverside, CA
And Pepper's life and story continue to get better every day!
To read the blog about Pepper's chiropractor almost refusing his first appointment, click here.
"The horse that “didn’t like to be groomed” when I first got him is now relaxed and actually enjoys being brushed. The horse that "didn’t like a shower" now stands perfectly to be rinsed off. The horse that used to trample me when I walked him now respects my space. The stand-offish horse I would retrieve from the pasture now comes when I call him. The horse that I didn’t think really cared if I came down to the stable or not now shows affection."
"Ginny is an absolute gift. I consider her a colleague, friend, and mentor. We met several years ago and share the same the love for horses, health, truth, and authenticity.
Professionally, we have consulted together for various difficult equine cases, that have required a “think outside the box perspective.”
Ginny always delivers, 110% of the time. She is a wealth of knowledge and expertise that disseminates correct information in a manner I have yet to find another person to be able to do. From her specificity of describing a horse’s personality, quirks, and body movements; to an all-around outstanding horsewoman.
Ginny is someone you want to have in your wheelhouse. If all else fails, call Ginny!!!"
--Bek Jarzombek, Doctor of Chiropractic
Giddy Up! Chiropractic
San Diego, CA
To read the blog about Pepper's chiropractor almost cancelling his first appointment, click here.
Pepper and Dr. Bek Jarzombek
Here is a video of pepper being trimmed by the sweet lady, Dawn, who has been trimming Pepper's feet for the last 3 years. When she first met him he was very defensive and she told me she wasn’t even sure if she wanted to trim him at all due to his initial aggressive/defensive stance. She took the time to establish a relationship with him and she trims him free standing in his stall. She’s been trimming him like this for a long time. He even lets her use a loud trimmer on his feet.
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