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 Trained Into Trauma

  • Bay Mustang Gelding
  • Entry Date – January 15, 2015 at approximate age of 9
  • Type of rescue – Surrendered by Owner
  • Reason – Behavior
  • Special needs – Patience and Understanding Due to Emotional Trauma

Woody is a handsome bay Mustang gelding with classic Mustang conformation and head. Originally part of a Nevada Mustang herd, Woody was rounded up and sold at auction at about three years of age, like others, losing his freedom and his herd in the painful process. An unfortunate series of aggressive trainers resulted in Woody becoming fearful of people, noises, sudden motion – about everything. Training had the opposite effect of what was intended.

Woody’s owner, who loved him despite his challenges, became a stroke victim and unable to care for her animals. While her mare was gentle and could be rehomed, Woody could not. His fear and unpredictable behavior made him unsuitable for riding and for being a pasture pet. With no other prospects, Woody joined Casper, Echo Star – both who sadly have similar stories – and Porter spending night time in the shelter and field near the large barn and the days in the large gelding herd.

This beautiful horse not only demonstrates fear, but its flip side – aggression. He routinely challenges other horses and on two occasions – people, but backs down when the person does not. In one instance where another gelding backed down, Woody began pursuing him so aggressively that Woody and the other horse cannot be in the same herd. This super vigilant and competitive wild horse behavior is still with Woody even though he is safe now.

In the five years that Woody has been at our Sanctuary he has made much progress with people! After two years, he could be coaxed into the barn. Now, he happily comes into the barn with his friends Echo Star, Casper, and Porter looking for some human company or alfalfa left in a stall. He can now be groomed from head to hoof. While he still occasionally shows aggression toward certain other horses, he is markedly calmer around people, seeks their company, and happily and gently takes treats or a pet.

Woody touches us deeply. His behavior issues are not his fault! Like our other horses that have been considered “dangerous”, Woody simply responds to his wild nature and to the mistreatment he received for so many years after he was rounded up from his wild herd and sold at auction. We are confident that over time in a stable environment where he is loved, Woody will continue to learn to relax and trust. We are committed to him no matter how long this takes.

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