Common Sense Horsemanship
One of the most common questions we get at Three Cross Ranch is, how do we choose and train our horses? The answer is simple. Now that we're experts at finding Kill Pen Horses bound for slaughter with REAL "ship dates" (meaning the date they have at the lot until they ship to Mexico or Canada for death), we choose the horses we feel have the best attitude and highest chance of excelling at our Ranch. We pick solely based off of character & disposition, meaning no matter if the horse is young, old, has a manageable health issue, no matter the color/breed, so long as the horse responds kindly to what is asked of him/her in the video the Kill Pen posts, they are automatically a candidate in becoming our next addition. If we have several to choose from, which is often the case at Kill Pens, we choose the horse we feel is least likely to get picked by someone else.
Next, once the horse comes home to our ranch, we give them a 24-hour rest period before assessing them for what they know. Almost all of our horses have had "jobs" in the past and are broke to ride when we get them. But, that doesn't mean they're safe for the variety of riders we get daily at the ranch. We have to put miles of riding, usually 30 days ourselves on the horse and test the limits of what they will tolerate. Examples would be crossing water, a jacket being thrown around on/off the horse, the "flying hat test", jumping jacks by the horse, crawling under their belly, riding double, standing on the horse, sliding off their butt, riding towards deer, herding cattle, swinging a rope, crackling a plastic water bottle on the back of the horse, firearms, the list goes on. Every horse is NOT expected to ace all the above tests. They are simply to assess what we can and cannot do with the horse and what we should work on. Some of the more extreme tests like riding double or gunfire are not something the horse must tolerate to complete training. Just like people, each horse has their own personality likes/dislikes. We try different bits/headstalls, and reining techniques on each horse as well to see what they know. We use the bit the horse likes best or a hackamore if they are obedient enough to ride in one. In the end, we get to know each horse like the back of our hand. Most trail companies never put this much effort into truly appreciating their horses.
Do all of the horses fit right in? Most of the time, the horses we choose are wonderfully trained riding horses that only require time to build trust back with humans. They DO know where they went, and they're smart enough to know what almost became of them. They are sad, heartbroken, don't understand what they did to end up in their circumstance, and sometimes probably miss their previous owners. It always amazes us that horses are so forgiving and loving, willing to trust and love humans again! But, they are, and the majority of the horses we get fit right in with the program and their happy new horse siblings perfectly without much training. They know we love them like horse family and they've earned a permanent home at Three Cross Ranch!
What Happens if you get a horse that's "wild" or disrespectful? That's probably the second most popular question we get asked. Sometimes, we don't get a back-story on the horses. When this is the case, and through our assessment process discover the horse has some bad habits (always at fault of the previous owner), we will use gentle horse psychology to establish a clear and healthy pecking order. Meaning, WE (humans) are the herd leader, and YOU (horse) are our herd-mate but NOT the leader. Many times when teaching this, we will use a soft hay pile or sand and teach the horse to lay himself down by us (their most vulnerable time is laying down). Once the horse submits and willingly lays himself down on his side, they get rewarded by immense praise and pets. If we feel the horse will tolerate it without being scared, we often sit gently on their side during this training and pet them. That is the ultimate act of submission for a horse. This method while frowned upon by the uneducated, is the very same method "Dog Whisperer" Caesar Milan uses to show dominance in his pack. It is a gentle invaluable tool widely underused and often misunderstood. To make a very blunt point, by laying disrespectful horses down, WE SAVE THEIR LIVES. If they are unsafe to ride or handle, they will end up right back at the kill pen or hurting someone and will have to be put down. Ask Caesar, and I'm sure he'll tell you the same thing with many rescued dogs. Laying a disrespectful or scared horse down (GENTLY!) creates a whole new respectful trusting companion!
We NEVER hurt our horses! Who in their right mind would want to use any kind of training that would hurt an animal? Training must always create trust along with the pecking order. If your horse doesn't trust you, he/she will never be a safe riding companion.
How can I find a slaughter-bound horse of my own? We've helped many people find their new horse best friend at the Kill Pen. We do this FOR FREE simply to help save as many horses as possible from a horrible inhumane death across the border. Simply text Rozanna at (830) 998-0024 and she can help locate a kill pen or rescue near you. Rozanna often goes as far as watching videos of horses at the selected kill pen and offering professional advice about which horse would be best for the rider's needs. She can also help direct you to a few horse hauling groups or individuals to deliver your new rescued horse if needed.
This isn't a "job" to us, this is our life mission.
Please consider adopting/purchasing from a kill pen instead of shopping overpriced horses from the breeder. It means the world to each horse saved!