Brego is an 12 year old 17 hand Iberian gelding. 1/2 Andalusian and 1/2 Paso Costariccense. He found his way to our gates, each time his owner was thrown into prison. Though his owner loved him, he also abused him, hit him, drugged him and hardly fed him. A strange and horrible type of love. A love relationship that also many women suffer. Why he looked for us ,I am not sure. Maybe our well cared for and loved horses called to him. Maybe his intuition and horse sense brought him to a place he knew would be safe and secure. We would feed him, heal his wounds and love him, til his owner would return to take him again. There was nothing legally here we could do, for the moment. Then one day, they both turned up at our gate, the owner with his arm in a sling and Brego (then called Sol) his jaw hanging, teeth broken, gauge in the stomach with infected pus and big hole in the knee, very swollen and very lame. A car had run into them, as he was galloping full speed down the road, at night! The guy is nuts, by the way.
The owner asked me to take Brego in, he had to go to the hospital and had no means to provide for him. I took him in, of course. His muzzle was ripped and hanging and 2 teeth were cracked. The hole in his stomach area was infected, there was a big abscess and another big abcess on his knee full of infection. I wrapped them both in clay, gave him a tetanus shot and spread clay on his muzzle area. A dose of Rescue remedy every few hours. Homepathic remedies followed for several days and we changed the clay 2 x a day. He healed quickly, today you see no sign of it, only the tiniest little bump on his muzzle and 2 crooked teeth!. The clay worked its wonders, truly amazing. He started putting on weight and for all he had been through was calm, he knew we were taking care of him, he trusted us. This was the big, crazy, scary, wild, loco horse the whole town was afraid of.
I took my time with him as he healed and began to trust.
On a trip to the beach I discovered another of his fears. Lunging! Just asking him to turn around one set him into a frenzy and he headed straight towards me to attack, I thought me! But now know it was the stick. It is kind of scary having a big powerful horse come at you forefeet flying in the air to strike! I put up my energy and arms and tried to remain focus, centered and calm. It was a feat that I must have accomplished to some degree, as he came down, trotted around me a few times then came to a stop. Well, I knew I wouldn’t be trying that again for awhile!
I then learnt of different techniques used here to train a horse and one is to make them spin around a pole at full gait and whipping them from behind til they were subdued. Right, well, I don’t think Brego liked this at all, and he didn’t look very subdued to me! But it explained his fear of feeling trapped and beaten with the stick.
Also any pressure, even the 7 Parelli Games unnerved him completely. So I decided to start slow, real slow.
I combined the 1st Game of the Parelli 7 Games, the Friendly Game with Clicker Training ( he loves treats, has a real sweet tooth and loves playing with things in his mouth) Keep in mind he was still a stallion at the time. I didn’t decide to geld him until 6 months later, whole other story with the ex owner who cursed me for gelding his horse , and accused me of castrating himself and his manhood, the man I am talking about, or he was, anyways.
So working with very light pressure and rewards Brego started to gain confidence and trust and let me “ask” him what to do. Our first lesson, was lowering the head, to calm him and keep him focused and not all over the place. To this day he still lowers his head when I bring him his grain and backs up 2 steps!
The next lesson was backing up, to stay out of my personal bubble. He liked to get up real close, snuggle and move you around and a little nip if he could, stallion style.
I soon realized what a good horse he was and how much he wanted to try and do right. I was amazed that such an abused and wild ,dangerous horse could change so fast, and forgive humans the way he had been treated. Well, me anyways, as a start.
We started taking rides down the beach, this is where I discovered that this guy loved to run, I mean REALLY RUN. I felt like I was winning the Preakness with Secretariat, it was that wild. Also a little hard to slow this locomotive down. The only way was to head him into the waves and he would pound through them til he would finally slow down. Exhilarating and a little scary too sometimes. I had a talk about this with him. One on one. I explained to him how I had healed and cared for him and that I always would, he had nothing to fear from me, but in return I needed the same from him. The next time we went out on the beach, he galloped like mad, but when I was ready, he slowed down and we waded quietly through the waves.
He had already done some previous training in Alta Escuela “High School of Spanish Riding” and could side-pass, Piafe and do the Spanish Walk. But his owner had so tortured him and forced him with pressure, that now it only brought out these horrible memories and made him very nervous and stressed.
Brego is noble, proud, dominant, mischievous, playful and very intelligent and big, a powerful combination for a woman like me. But somehow we make a team and we get each other. Riding him, you must be %100 present ALL THE TIME or you can find yourself on the ground or in the next country (he hasn’t done it to me yet, but he has to others, so I stay focused all the time!)
He is still distrustful of men in general. If I have to leave for a week or so he gets depressed, he colicked once while I was away. He had a vet, a friend of mine and another horsewoman friend plus my daughter surrounding him and taking care of him. That big boy was up in no time, soaking in all the attention, as if nothing had ever happened.
I did decide to geld him, for him to be able to mingle more with our other horses and not be alone, for the safety of my younger daughter and also for my own safety. I just didn’t want to take the risk of something happening, he is very powerful. He liked to nip a lot, and since he has been gelded, this has turned into gentle nibbling, a relief! Years ago I had been bitten by a stallion, have the mark still on my leg, he lifted me right off my feet and shook me like a rag, so not too keen on nippy horses anymore.
Brego still has a long way to go and so do I, but thats okay ,we have got til the end of our lives to work on this, to play and learn together.
My dream? Be riding him on the beach as he goes from a side pass, into Piaffe and then we finish with the Spanish Walk, all just for our enjoyment, the two of us!