This is my Trail Horse: Rocky, My Spirit Horse

By Annette Marshall of Colorado

This QH buckskin busted his way into my life in early 2012. I only had a few months of horse contact under my belt when this young gelding came off a transport from the Dakota’s. He broke the handler’s hand then took off, running the 10 acres of snow covered Rocky Mountain property.  He seemed very distressed, but who wouldn’t be after being separated from his herd at such a young age.  

As we worked to gentle him we found there were other reasons for his distress.  Ligature marks on his neck, his head off to one side, he separated himself from the other horses, he moved very stiffly and was extremely wary of the trainers.  He ran through one trainer, then ran with another into a wall.  He began to trust my daughter and I as we entered his stall, taught him to eat an apple and carrot (found he was missing half of his front teeth). We groomed him, worked to gentle him enough that we could remove the briars from his tail.  
As the days passed, the trainer became very frustrated with the lack of progression in Rocky’s training, he was very combative and lacked an ability to accomplish basic tasks.  With my background working with athletes, I began to be concerned that he was injured in a serious way. By April, I had taken over his care and training. I bought a large ball to work on strength and build confidence. By Mother’s Day, I was in saddle and riding bareback. It was difficult to force him to trot and lope.  I moved Rocky to a new stable in early fall and he had his first chiropractic visit.  We found his neck completely rotated and there were multiple trauma areas to his spine.  He had nerve damage in the hind quarters and who knows what else.  We began to work on stretching/flexing and more strengthening.  Each day I work with Rocky to improve his health and he gives me so much in return.  When he feels well, he is always up for a new challenge.
Since I could not work the usual starting methods with him, we worked on challenges like walking over teeter totters, going through water, working with tarps and flags, dragging metal cans.  In the last couple of weeks Rocky has made incredible progress after another chiropractic adjustment.  He is stretching, loping and working without the head tilting to one side. We are signing up for our first ACTHA trail challenge in April and we are excited to start this journey.  Rocky has guided me on a strong new path in life, his friendship and tenacity has shown me that all obstacles can be overcome when we have trust and strong partnerships. 
I’m lucky to have Rocky, he has provided me with hope, healing and the spirit to keep me on my path in life!  He is my true spirit horse!
Many thanks to Durvet Apple Wormer for sponsoring “This is my Trail Horse”. Rocky will receive a gift from Durvet.

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