To read more about identifying triggers of abused horses, please click here.
Rehabbing charroed horses is a constant struggle of identifying triggers and then figuring out how to work around those issues or, if possible, exterminate the response. Sometimes we can work through some of the triggers so the horse no longer responds negatively- or at least his reaction is not extreme. Other times, however, it is either impossible or just easier to work around the issue.
Some horses who have been subjected to harsh bits will have issues when you try to put anything in their mouth on their left side. We have seen charroed horses with split or severed tongues from extremely harsh charro bits.
Ulysses is an Appendix gelding rescued by Hanaeleh. He had been dumped in the riverbed in Riverside and left to die. He has scars from his abusers both physically and emotionally. When we first tried to give Ulysses a wormer, we tried to give it on the left, like we do the other horses. He completely went ballistic and was visibly afraid. It took him close to 20 minutes to calm down. At first we thought he just really didn’t like the wormer, but the next day when I gave it on the right side, there was no issue- he didn’t even flinch. I realized later that anytime I do anything by his mouth on the left he gets upset and afraid- it makes sense that he would anticipate pain as once the bridle was put on he was literally tortured.
So, for the past several years, instead of giving the wormer on the left, therefore, we give Ulysses the wormer on the right side. He may not like it (who does?), but it doesn’t scare him like it did when we tried to give it to him on the right.
When working with abused horses, sometimes it requires just doing something as simple as giving a wormer on the opposite side. Once you identify the trigger, you can then brainstorm ways to help your horse either work through- or work around- the situation.