Hey guys and gals! I’m back again with Equine Angel. I just had to let her share this incredibly heart-wrenching story about her and her horse, Fury. It’s an important lesson on aggressive horse behavior. Equine Angel mentioned him in the post on natural horsemanship and liberty training, which you should definitely read afterwards, especially if you’re getting into training yourself.
There’s a lot of great insight there!
Some of you may know Equine Angel through Google Plus or from her blog, Leading to Liberty. Today, she wanted to tell us about her journey buying and training her Tennessee Walking Horse, Fury.
“Meeting Fury” by Equine Angel
Hey again! Today I’m going to tell you guys about Fury.
Gabriela Medeiros also has a feature on Fury and I on her blog, so I will repeat some of that material. I wanted to introduce Fury to everyone on here as well because I think there’s just so much to learn from our story. So let’s get to it…..
He was my first horse and I had him from September 2015 to July of 2016. I want to talk about how I got Fury and how I ended up moving an hour an a half away from where I was initially living with my family to be closer to him. Most of all, I want to tell you about his training and what forced us to sell him.
A Future of Horses & Buying Fury
In August of 2015, I went on my quest to find a horse as that’s what my fiancé and I had decided we wanted for our future…HORSES! At the time, we were living in the city and our lease was up at our place. We were definitely ready to make some huge changes in our life to say the least.
During my quest, I ended up finding a beautiful Tennessee Walking Horse. He was a 5 year old stallion. He basically had no training. The people who had him could never work with him. I remember the day that I went to go look at him for the first time.
The moment I saw him, I just knew I had to have him.
He was pretty beat up as he was in a pasture made from barbed wire. He would get tangled up in it constantly because he was being housed next to another stallion and they would fight whenever the opportunity presented itself. I saw this first hand because I visited Fury for about a month before I was able to bring him to a family member’s house. This first boarding situation was to be a very temporary thing as they really didn’t want a horse on their property.
I ended up buying Fury in the end of September, 2015 without being able to work with him once. I wasn’t even able to enter the pasture with him because the owners would not let me, in case someone got hurt.
For the first time, but definitely not the last, Fury surprised me.
I asked my very good friends, Scott and Julie, to help me transfer him as I didn’t have my own horse trailer. Fury handled the whole situation perfectly. We didn’t have a single problem with him.
Starting Training with Fury
It was October, and I started Fury’s training immediately. Since no vet would geld him before it was Spring, I decided to start working with him as a stallion.
I was learning while training Fury just as much as he was.
Choosing a Style of Training
At this point, I was struggling to choose the direction I wanted to go in with my style of training. This was mainly because there is such scrutiny against the words “Natural Horsemanship.” What they meant as a whole and also what they meant to each individual person. As Martina mentioned, you can read my other post on Natural Horsemanship and Liberty Work to learn more about this.
But ultimately, Natural Horsemanship is the style I wanted to go with, whatever that ended up meaning. Besides not really knowing what direction I wanted to go, I had no real experience either.
Then Fury surprised me yet again.
Fury progressed extremely fast and teaching him was a breeze. All of his disrespectful behaviors went away almost immediately.
His hooves had not been trimmed in 3 years and we were now picking them up.
He was able to walk with a loose lead respectfully and he was learning how to lunge correctly and respectfully. We even set up small jumps for him to walk over, and we were able to ride him bare back with someone holding the lead.
And this all happened in only 8 short weeks!
But it was taxing. During this time, we were driving an hour and a half EACH WAY to get to Fury. It was 3 hours of travel time to work with Fury every other day.
Fury Moves to a New Home
We would go get hay for Fury at the same place for a while during this time. We met some people there and we would talk to them whenever we came in. After a time we all became pretty good friends – or I thought we did.
They offered to rent us out the place next door to them. It had a trailer and a few acres on it. We of course accepted because that meant we could have Fury on the land with us!
So we – my husband, my daughter and I – uprooted our whole lives so we could be with Fury. But we were excited because this meant we could work with him for longer and more easily than ever before.
There were some contingencies upon moving in, and one was to get Fury gelded before moving him to the property.
Getting Fury Gelded
In March of 2016, we got Fury gelded at an extremely reputable vet in our area. The vet specialized in horses so we felt very comfortable putting Fury in his hands.
Keep in mind that Fury was a stallion all throughout his training thus far.
The vet reported that the surgery went well so we moved him to the new property with us. Fury started to really show typical stallion behaviors after we moved. Our landlord and neighbor had three mares and a gelding that Fury could see from across the fence. At the closest point, our fence and their fence had only a 12 foot gap between them.
This was not alarming to any of us, however, since we knew that it takes time for all the testosterone to leave a gelding’s body after the procedure. In Fury’s case this was especially true, since he was gelded so late.
During this time I had very strict instructions to keep him moving and to work with him at least 3 times a day for a minimum of 20 minutes per session. So that’s what I did. I was happy about it too, since that is precisely why we all moved to the new piece of land in the first place!
Fury Changes – the Beginning of Aggressive Horse Behavior
One of our landlords – who was also my friend at the time – was able to see me work with Fury during his healing period, since she lived right next door.
By this point, I had figured out that my version of Natural Horsemanship and Liberty Work suited me very well and I had gravitated towards this soft and connected method of training. Furthermore, I thought that Fury was responding very well to it.
My friend, however, was not impressed with how soft I was with Fury. She asked me if she could work with Fury so she could give me some “pointers”. Unfortunately I agreed. Although I was starting to get comfortable with my training style at this point, I was still learning and am naturally open-minded so I wanted to hear her suggestions.
She preferred to use a lot of force to train horses. After some time I realized that she believed in “breaking” a horse mentally. This that you give the horse no other choice but to listen to you out of fear because if he doesn’t listen to you, he gets physically beaten. At the time, I didn’t fully realize what she was doing but I did know that some part of me didn’t feel comfortable with it.
It’s not like she held a sign to her forehead that said “I beat my horse if it doesn’t listen.”
But after only 2 times of her working with Fury and me watching my horse run circles around her out of fear, I had had enough.
I told her she was no longer going to be working with Fury and I would train my horse my way, no matter how long it takes. She was pretty damn annoyed to say the least.
The saddest part was that in just these 2 times of her working with him, he developed extreme aggression towards her. Whenever he would see her, he would freak out.
And when I say freak out, I mean he would pace the fence so badly he would wear down a patch of beautiful green grass into dirt. He would challenge her across the fence as he would another stallion. He would also rear, buck, strike, kick etc.
It was awful to see…
Fortunately I could go to him and get him back into a clear state of mind. He never really challenged me any more than a typical pushy horse would in such a state of mind. He definitely never attempted to maliciously hurt me in any way!
Prior to us purchasing him, Fury was never with another horse for 5 years. And every experience he had with other horses was bad up to this point so it made sense that he continued to show stallion-like behavior towards the neighbouring horses. Furthermore, the woman who had physically beaten him lived on that side of the fence. More likely than not, he associated that side of the fence with her.
Wouldn’t you have anxiety if someone who tortured you lived next door?
Our landlord, however, thought it was me and my soft style of training that was the problem. I knew otherwise but I didn’t have the chance to figure out how to fix it…
The Aggressiveness Elevates
About 6 weeks or so after his geld, Fury broke out of the fence after we expanded his pasture. He high tailed it over to our landlord’s property and her horses.
He ended up biting her gelding. Fortunately though, we were able to break them up about 2 minutes after he broke into her fence. During this process she was screaming for her husband to shoot Fury. It was just a crazy situation.
I could tell that she simply didn’t like him and that this incident was a great excuse for her to put an end to that horse. Two days later, I was served with a 10 day notice to get my horse off her property. I was very upset to say the least. We had uprooted our lives to come here and work with Fury.
Personally, I thought she should have been an adult and talked to me about it in person. That way, we could have resolved the whole situation calmly rather than serving me with a 10 day notice.
At the same time, I did understand that she was upset because her own gelding was bit. I would be upset if another horse bit Fury.
I felt as if it wasn’t about that single incident, however, but rather the whole Fury situation. As I mentioned before, he didn’t like her and she didn’t like him. Fury biting her horse gave her the perfect excuse to get rid of him because she knew we didn’t have the means to board him elsewhere.
Selling Fury to a “Trainer”
We were in between a rock and a hard place.
So I sold Fury to what I thought was a reputable trainer. I was supposed to get a buy back option after his “training” and he was accustomed to being with other horses.
But this guy went ahead and sold him to someone else a week later. He turned a 1,000 dollar profit off of Fury. Next thing I knew, the lady who bought him was calling me asking me why he’s mounting mares and his testosterone levels are testing as a stallion.
I found out that she got my phone number from the vet I took Fury to.
I told her that I didn’t know that he was still testing as a stallion and I surely didn’t know why. That further explained to me why he did what he did, however.
The woman was in her 60’s and was apparently told Fury was trail safe and child safe, which he is neither. So after a few phone calls back a forth she decided to sell him.
The next owner then was calling me and telling me she didn’t know the situation was this bad with him. Within 2 days of buying him, they got a notice to vacate the boarding facility. So, she was also forced to re-home him.
In the meantime, we got a different place but it didn’t have any land.
Every single time I get a phone call, I tell them that this “trainer” was supposed to give me a buy back option, and I was told his training would take a minimum of 6 months. And generally tried to explain to them Fury’s history.
The Real Fury
Every person has said that the issue is not when Fury is by himself and that alone he is amazing. The problem is when he sees other horses. If someone would be okay with having one horse forever, Fury would be that horse. He lunges, walks, plays, yields, backs, etc. All at liberty. And apparently also knows how to bow now too!
He is the perfect gentleman, he doesn’t crowd, he isn’t pushy – he’s amazing!!!
It’s unfortunate that his geld went wrong, that he was beaten by our previous landlord and that he generally was neglected for years. Whatever it is that makes him aggressive with other horses…
I have days where I feel as if it’s all my fault. But I know damn well I did everything I could for him before I had no other choice but to re-home him. I know that did my best, and I pray every night that he knows that.
The Next Chapter for Fury
I am determined to keep in contact with every owner who gets him until we buy a place. I really hope be able to buy him back or maybe he’ll get lucky and find that right someone he can stay with happily forever.
Whatever the situation may be, I just hope that he gets the chance to live and be a horse.
Here’s a a video that I made of my journey with Fury. You will be able to see plenty of pictures, and video clips of us together 🙂
I hope everyone watches and enjoys.
Afterword by Martina
I know that story broke my heart and that I just want Fury to find a good home or be reunited with Equine Angel and her family. I’m sure you guys feel the same way!
I think Fury’s life was filled with anxiety. He was clearly neglected for the first 5 years of his life, then after a short time during which he was able to truly bond and flourish, he was beaten by a woman who he knew lived right across the street. This elevated his anxiety and increased his natural instinct to fight with other males. Now he is misunderstood and being bounced from home to home because the “trainer” who was supposed to help him decided it was easier to lie and turn a quick profit.
Unfortunately, this type of abusive horse treatment is far too common. I was just watching a Youtube video the other day about soring horses. Just watching that video was traumatic. And the poor horses don’t even fight back – you can tell that they’re too loyal. They also have nowhere else to go.
And even more unfortunate is that the people like Equine Angel and myself just don’t have the means that we need to home these horses and get them the care that they need.
You can help!
If you’d like to donate to Equine Angel and her family so they can fulfill their wish of getting a ranch and giving Fury a great home, then click the Donate button below 🙂
What do you guys think? We would love to hear your comments and any ideas you have about how to fix these very real issues in the horse world.