Students majoring in Equine Sciences at Colorado State University have the opportunity to take a relatively new course that has been informally dubbed “The Right Horse Program.” They spend a semester honing their horsemanship skills while providing critically needed training for horses from three of the ASPCA’s Right Horse Initiative adoption partners, helping to make those horses ready to find homes.
As a student in Colorado State University’s Equine Sciences program, Lisa spends her time learning about all aspects of the equine industry. When the spring semester started earlier this year, she had a lot to look forward to. One hands-on course stood out on her schedule: The Right Horse Training class.
Because of their size and nature as flight animals, training and consistent handling is key to making horses safe companions and riding partners. It takes an experienced rider and trainer to teach a horse how to respond to human cues, both from the ground and from the saddle. A trained horse is an adoptable horse, and many equine shelters and rescues dedicate significant resources to providing refresher courses and in-depth training to the horses who come into their care.
The Right Horse Training Class is mutually beneficial for the students, horses and associated adoption groups. The students get to explore and develop their training skills while learning more about equine welfare. At the same time, they are teaching skills that make it easier for the horses to find adopters, which allows the adoption groups to maximize their resources and ultimately help more at-risk horses.
Students are paired with a horse at the beginning of the semester and work with them for several months. They become responsible for their assigned horse’s training, care and promoting them for adoption. For Lisa, it was love at first sight when she first met her assigned horse—an 11-year-old pinto mare named Confetti.
One of the simplest tasks that Lisa had to teach Confetti was to be respectful when being haltered and groomed. Lisa also worked to teach Confetti how to properly respond to cues from a rider’s legs and hands while staying relaxed and responsive. With Lisa’s guidance, Confetti progressed quickly and the two began to bond.
“It took a while for her to trust me. One day, she came up to me nickering instead of walking away and that’s when I knew we would be the perfect team,” said Lisa.
Lisa and her classmates were making tremendous progress with the horses when the world was turned upside down by factors outside their control. Mid-semester, the COVID-19 pandemic put a hold on their training plans when the University followed the recommended guidelines and ended in-person coursework. As the world rapidly changed in response to the virus, Lisa’s classes went online, and she found herself saying goodbye to a horse she had quickly come to love. With many of the students headed home to finish the semester, the students and staff prepared the horses to return to their respective adoption organizations for continued training.
It didn’t take long for Lisa to realize that Confetti was her right horse, and she made the decision adopt her. Soon after, Confetti left the University and headed to her new home with Lisa near campus.
“When the pandemic started and classes were canceled, I realized how much I would miss Confetti. I wanted to give her a forever home. Confetti is the first horse I’ve adopted. I’ve taken riding lessons and leased horses for many years, but it’s amazing to have my own horse now. She is an incredible addition to my family.”
What’s next for the happy new pair? Lisa is taking her time to continue Confetti’s training and has big dreams for their future together.
“My goal is to keep training her. I want to find what she enjoys the most in life and keep doing it. It could be trail riding or giving lessons to little kids. She is the sweetest horse and tries hard to please her people.”
Interested in discovering the life-changing joy that comes from equine ownership? Explore equine adoption and find the perfect horse for you at myrighthorse.org.
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