Some years ago, during a course on communication and the language of the horse, I met Julia and her four-legged friend Tom. As always, we started the course with everyone introducing themselves and the horses they had brought. To be able to follow a course with us it is certainly not necessary to bring your own horse with you, it can often be just as nice and even more beneficial to work with many different horses. But if you have a challenge with your horse, it can be very useful. Julia told her story; how she bought Tom for the kids to ride, and Julia also liked driving. It had all gone very well in the beginning, only after a few months Tom seemed to get less and less pleasure from the work and he became less and less forward. Actually they no longer knew how to proceed, she had to confess that she had tried everything. After the introductions, we went along to the horses. Tom turned out to be a cross of unknown breeds, about 1.50 meters high and… at least 75 kilos too heavy! The owner had not had much experience with horses yet, and found one feed scoop too little for such a large animal, with the result that Tom was now so heavy that he had difficulty moving. Not surprising that he was no longer forward off the leg! After the two-day course, she went home in good spirits with feeding- and exercise advice.
About seven months later, during a follow-up course, Julia and Tom were back. Of course we were curious how it went. “Well, it went very well after a month of losing weight and he also worked great for a few months. Only, in recent months he no longer wants to… I can’t get him forward!” Well, of course we had no answer to that. When we walked back into the stable, we were quite shocked when we saw the animal. Or ‘were pointed to him’ is actually a better way to say it, because we no longer recognized the poor animal. Tom was now about 60 kilos underweight… Again, no wonder he didn’t want to go forward! Our feeding- and exercise advice was followed to the letter, but the owner had forgotten to keep a close eye on her horse. Plans are there to adjust if real life so demands. It was another learning experience for everyone, and luckily things are going well now!