12/10/2010 Diary of the Rehabilitation of Rescue Pony Pixie by Claire Clark

In January, The Horse Trust  rescued Pixie, a 12hh grey mare, who was found abandoned. I was asked to look after her as I've worked quite a lot with nervous horses. 

When Pixie arrived she was extremely nervous of people and I couldn't go anywhere near her. If I went in her paddock, she would run to the other end and stand there shaking, showing the whites of her eyes. She was fine with horses, but was absolutely petrified of anyone going near her.

For the first few weeks, I spent time sat on her paddock fence, getting her used to me being around. After three weeks, she came up to me and took the carrot I was offering.  What a fantastic feeling! I knew Pixie and I were at the beginning of a long journey, but felt a glimmer of hope that I could help her trust humans again.

The next stage was to attempt to touch Pixie but this just made her completely freak out and she nearly fell over!

So I started off touching her on her withers and would then back straight off. By backing off I could show her that nothing bad had happened. Horses groom each other on their withers so they are used to contact there.

Very slowly Pixie gained confidence, but it took about three months before I was able to touch her without her showing any signs of fear or nervousness.

One of our volunteers, Sue Goodman, helped me with the rehabilitation - Sue feeds treats as a reward when Pixie's done something right. I can now stroke Pixie all over both sides and can pick her feet, but I can't touch her head yet. She will now tolerate people being near her, but no-one except me can touch her.

I still have to teach Pixie to be caught in a field and treated by the farrier. I have started doing some leading work and moving her between different paddocks, although she's quick to bolt if something panics her.

Once Pixie is confident with everything, I will start introducing her to other people. I don't want to do this yet as I'm careful to do things exactly the same way every time I work with her.

Since January, I've worked with Pixie almost every day I was at work. I only worked with her for about 10 minutes to start with, as she found it very stressful and tired quickly. I can now work with her longer as she is more confident. With every session, I always make sure I end on a good note. 

In September, The Horse Trust and I decided to move Pixie to my own yard so I can spend more time with her without the distractions of the other horses and ponies at the sanctuary.

My goal is to get to the point where Pixie is confident being handled by anyone. Maybe we could then think about rehoming her - she is a young pony so it would be nice for her to have an active life with a loving owner in the future.

To support The Horse Trust's work with rescued horses and ponies, donate online at www.horsetrust.org.uk, or contact 01494 488464 or info@horsetrust.org.uk for information on other ways you can help.  You can join the charity's Facebook page at www.facebook.com/horsetrust