The Mylestone horses are not your average horses. Those who come to realize this most clearly are our volunteers who have little or no experience with horses in the "real" world, that is, at riding stables and barns. As these volunteers and friends of Mylestone broaden their horizons and begin getting their own horses, taking riding lessons or even getting their own farms, they notice that our farm is an "oasis" in many ways from the horse world at large.
We thought you might be interested in learning more about the Mylestone horses and what makes them both different and unique. I, (Susankelly), grew up riding and working around lesson horses. The horses were very dependable and how I brushed each one rarely differed from the next. I could easily curry each one, pick hooves etc… That's not the case at Mylestone where we treat each horse differently according to their needs.
Rescued at a young age and worked with often, Scout, above, doesn't have any of the issues some of our other horses, who were rescued when mature, have.
Since our horses come to us with baggage of some sort, whether outright physical abuse or neglect, they react in a variety of different ways than horses that have been well cared for their whole lives. Just as an example, I rescued Scout when he was about 2-3 months old. He was unhandled. I worked with him from the beginning and he is a very loving horse. Even with his huge size, he is one of the best horses we have for the special needs adults to brush. That's not the case when we take in a mature horse who has been handled infrequently or mishandled.
Our vets also see a significant difference in the horses here compared to horses belonging to their clients with large riding barns. The vets will vaccinate 30-40 horses at a riding stable and see absolutely no reactions to the vaccines. The same vaccines given here will cause reactions in about 12-15 horses. We have to give them preventative medication of Banamine or Bute ahead of time. This is very telling in terms of the lack of veterinary care the rescue horses have received prior to coming to Mylestone.
Molly has severe arthritis and to make it easier on her, she is sedated to have her front shoes put on by Mylestone farrier, Gil Meeker.
There are about 8-10 of our horses that have to be sedated just to have their hooves trimmed. Trimming hooves shouldn’t be an ordeal but for many it is. Whether because of past abuse or because of physical limitations due to lameness, we have to sedate them. For example, Sundance is terrified of the farrier due to past experiences, and it's taken Cloudy 3 years to not be overly stressed when his hooves need to be trimmed. This is not a normal protocol. In addition, some of our horses are not good about simply having their hooves picked; in a few cases, it takes two people.
At Mylestone, one horse may need to be handled very differently than the next, where at most barns the horses are handled relatively the same. Something as simple as brushing the rescue horses differs here compared to other barns. Logan is terrified of the brushes; Josie is very sensitive in spots, as are Blaze and Dixie. Some of them don’t like their faces brushed because they are head shy. Many you can’t fly spray because they become terribly frightened. Jingle can't be bathed. The list goes on and on.
Logan came to us terrified of just about everything. It took awhile before he began to trust us and he has improved a great deal. Brushes were one of the many things he was afraid of.
While we must cater to the needs of each horse in a different way, oftentimes those needs are constantly changing, such as when a horse grows healthier and may be confronted with a new experience, or in accepting a new routine or a new horse to share a paddock. What a person can learn at Mylestone may be different from what one learns at other barns, but can also be invaluable in understanding aspects of a horse's most basic nature. In the end, what one learns here is due to the special nature of our rescued horses, something that has often made a profound impact on our volunteers' lives. We are very grateful to all our volunteers, as are the Mylestone horses, for the wonderful care that is afforded them.
Should you be interested in volunteering and learning about the difference you can make in a horse's life, read more about our volunteer program. It might just change your own, as well.