In the past 9 years, the LRF has helped almost 140 Lipizzans; 58 of which we have placed in loving homes.
Here is the background of Rhett aka Prince and then Darly as written by Susan Castle for United States Lipizzan Rescue Foundation Spring 2014 Magazine...
"In August 2013, Natural Horsemanship Coach Karen Jones, of Newnan, Georgia, became the proud owner of a horse called “Rhett”.
A gorgeous baroque horse, Rhett’s Lipizzan and Andalusian heritage blessed him with exquisite bone and an exotic look. Not quite seven years old when Karen met him, Rhett‘s beauty was timeless, and everyone who saw him agreed the gelding was a “stunner”.
Rhett’s journey to Karen was a long, complicated one, however, with many foster homes and rescues involved in his short life. His early years were said to be horrific. He lacked any rudimentary positive human contact, and when he was rescued through Central Wisconsin Save the Animals group and later adopted out, he was doing poorly, both physically, mentally and emotionally.
When his adoptive home could no longer care for him, she contacted Lipizzan Rescue Foundation (LRF), and LRF began the slow process of searching out a forever home for this traumatized animal.
At this point, Rhett’s early years had caught up with him. Emotional scars from his early years made him distrustful of people, disrespectful of space and terrified of even the simplest activities. His absolute - falling down - terror at anyone putting a rope near his hind legs supported the theory that he’d been broken, and likely abused, through hobbling or whipping. He was poorly socialized and traumatized by confinement of any sort.
Through LRF’s angels, Rhett was moved to foster care, so he could be kept safe and secure until his forever home was located, a happy event that began in mid October, when Karen picked him up in Murfreesboro, TN.
Then, as Karen has reported in a daily blog about Rhett, the play began! Rhett’s first two weeks were largely spent by introducing him to her other horses, slowly and carefully, in group and individual situations. This was to help Rhett gain confidence and learn positive social interactions with other horses as he had always been kept alone. Karen was pleased that Rhett was curious and careful, earning a comfortable place amidst her herd of four.
Next, Karen focused on space and boundary issues through confidence-building games. Many, many baby steps yielded incremental improvement. Mindful of his past trauma, Karen posted a saying on her Facebook blog that read: “Healing doesn‘t mean the damage never existed. It means the damage no longer controls our lives.”
A friend who observed Rhett’s training said Rhett seems to have “never known boundaries, rules, structure, tough love or freedom to make decisions…he is really coming around…a kind soul who is trying his hardest to process it all.”
Near the end of October, Karen initiated clicker training with Rhett, using positive reinforcement techniques. Her goal was to present Rhett with a variety of puzzles, giving him the freedom to select his own correct course of action. She simulated conditions that bothered him: small spaces, blanketing, touching the “yea-but“ areas of his body and trailering.
Throughout this process, Karen listened to Rhett very carefully, slowing her training when Rhett indicated he “just wasn’t ready”. He progressed very well, nevertheless, and Karen excitedly announced on November 20th that Rhett would “begin his foundation journey under the tutelage of a Master Horseman”…unfortunately, this ‘cowboy way’ that has worked very well with other horses, didn’t work well for Rhett. Karen brought him back home and has renewed their way of positive reinforcement, patience and more than anything, encouraging a partnership of mutual trust and respect. Karen’s training philosophies are based on thoughts from the masters such as “the horse is never wrong, “take the time it takes and it will take less time”, “hurry up and slow down” and her favorite “when the student is ready, the teacher will appear”. Karen feels that she and Rhett are playing both the roles of student and teacher for each other on their horsemanship journey.
“Look deeper than the skin, look through the eyes and into the soul and you will see your kindness mending a broken heart!!” ~ Karen and Rhett
Can they do it? Why, yes they can! "
A little background first: Gabriella II was part of my breeding program from 2001-2003. She came on lease from Charlie Horse Acres, later Noble Lipizzans, for three foals; when she arrived, she was in foal to Favory II Bonasera III. That foal was a beautiful tall filly, and I bred her to my stallion, Pluto Carrma III, for another lovely filly. And then she went back to Washington to be bred to Neopolitano Slatana II—again, a filly. A trifecta!
I loved that mare and cried when she left, but she belonged on a larger and more active breeding farm, where she could continue to produce beautiful babies for our breed. Her Pluto Carrma daughter was sold, but I kept the other two. I kept track of her, and hoped someday she could come back.
In 2010 I received an email from Cele Noble. Gabriella, who had moved on from Cele’s farm in the intervening years, needed a home fast. Could I take her? The economy had not been kind to me or to the farm, and Cele suggested that I contact the newly formed Lipizzan Rescue Foundation to see if they could help ship her down from Oregon to Arizona.
A rapid email exchange followed. The clock was ticking. The LRF stepped up, and we rushed through the paperwork, booked a shipper, took lots of deep breaths and tried not to panic. And ten days later she was here.
She arrived in the middle of a White Horse Herd Yoga session, covered in mud, dazed and a little wobbly. The herd welcomed her, running to the fence to watch us come in. The yoga ladies surrounded us as I led her down from the road and settled her in a paddock to rest, and little by little she started to breathe more easily. The life came back into her eyes. She was home.
When I contacted the LRF about the rescue, I promised them that if she could come to me, the placement would be permanent. She would never be sold or sent elsewhere. I meant every word. I love that mare in a way that Lipizzan people truly understand. She’s a heart horse, and when she was gone for all those years, I missed her terribly.
She’s had some adventures over the years. Saddle fitting for this very round, very short- backed, very big-shouldered mare was even more than the usual nightmare; at long last we found her a plain old Wintec AP with a wide gullet, and she could finally be ridden regularly. She is not fond of ring work, and at 24 and after making so many babies she’s entitled to decide what we do. And that is trail riding. She loves trails. She goes out two or three times a week with her buddy the Lipp-Arab gelding, and if we miss a ride for weather or human error, she lets us know how disappointed she is.
There are a few health problems as she ages. She has internal melanomas, and is being treated for them with mega doses of cimetidine (tagamet). She colics in the fall when the heat breaks; we’re making plans to avert that this year. She wants a blanket in the winter nights, never mind how warm it is compared to where she comes from. So she has a wardrobe just like our delicate flower of a stallion, and gets her choice of blankets every night (and some stormy days) from October to May.
It’s all worth it. When she arrived, she had a bit of a rep as an “AlphAAAAAA,” as Cele put it, but she has made a conscious effort to fit in. If that means taking bottom slot in the herd order, so be it. Whatever it takes.
She doesn’t let herself be pushed around, but she stands back and lets the kids have their day. And lately, as our senior mare Pandora enters her dotage, she’s been the big lady’s caretaker and protector. It’s quite amusing to watch the 16.1-hand mare follow the 14.3-hand mare around like a giant foal. But Gabriella’s a mom. She’s good with it.
We love her dearly and hope she’ll be with us for many years to come. Thanks to the LRF for making that possible, and for bringing my sweet girl home to me.
My George. Indeed, I can call him this name now. But, before George’s adoption can be delved in to, events that led to this decision need to be explained. She had me at “Hello”. The first time I laid eyes on a Lipizzaner was the day I was hooked. Opinionated, regal, and of course full of herself were just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. Purchasing Baxtera was never a question of if; it was when. This happened about two years later and I spent one full year taking weight off of my girl, and then bred her to one of Jennifer Roth’s stallions. She had a filly and then it was my turn. Several years went by and Baxtera developed melanomas on both sides of her lip; which were removed, and under her tail. The melanomas progressed under her tail, and I began to think about her future and mine. Paperwork was filled out, and I was put on the list for a possible Lipizzaner adoption. Last year Baxtera’s tail was 95% cracked, and the melanomas were enormous. Given a good amount of observation and thought about what needed to happen with her; my vet drove an hour to my farm, put her down, and my heart was buried under a tree. As I compose this, my eyes well with tears. Events lead now to George.
The Lipizzan Rescue Foundation contacted me a few times for possible matches for adoption. After talking with a few owners, I knew that a connection was not yet found. Last October, LRF called and visited with me about George. It sounded promising, and I talked several times with his owner, who was downsizing her herd. A trip was planned for me to meet him and have a lesson. Nearly a full day was spent with George and several other Lipizzaners. Plans were made to bring George and a three year old mare I bought to Texas. My husband and I made a second trip and returned with two horses. George was now my boy, or so I thought.
Adjusting was a priority, so I let George have a few weeks off and then began to take him across town twice a week for lessons. It became apparent that he was hypersensitive to sound. As soon as a theraplate was turned on or a UPS truck drove by, George would explode into a Levade, or canter, or Spanish walk. This happened repeatedly only with sound! Feeling like I had no choice, I spoke with his owner and Lyn and made a decision because I still wanted to keep him.
I had given much thought to George’s behavior and most of all considered his eyes. This may seem silly, but was oh, so important to me. George’s eyes were rock hard and cold. Obviously, he was not comfortable or happy with his current situation. Every fiber in his body said, “Where am I and what am I doing here?” At that point, my decision had to be to let him be for a while. I groomed him, called him by name, and let him settle in to a barn routine without even riding him. It was a good decision and little by little his eyes began to soften and turn in to those liquid brown eyes that said he would let me in.
He did indeed get accustomed to his shortened pasture hours due to a metabolic issue, and the company of a pony in the stall/turnout next to him. At that point I began to lunge George just to further my education with him, and to see how he would behave under saddle with the sights and sounds of my barn. We both are progressing nicely, although he is still quite sensitive to sounds and new sights. For example, a bicycler passed by his pasture and George was so freaked out he began to execute nice half passes while no other horse really even noticed.
This makes the trust issue on my part quite sensitive still. But, every single day he seeks my attention and loves to have his ears rubbed. I never have to physically walk through his pasture to bring him in; he knows it is time and comes to greet me. With my other horses,
I had never noticed the back and forth pumping of ears as gulps of water are taken in. This action has given me a sense of enjoyment and peace about George. We two are a work in progress. My pet names for him are “George of the Jungle” when impatient for his morning feed, “Boy George” when he freaks out about a sound or sight, and just plain “Georgie” on an ordinary day. I hope it sounds like I treasure this horse, because I do! For me, it is not occupying a heart space of a horse long gone; it is opening my heart to a new adventure and horse to love. Give an adoption of a Lipizzaner a try. They are ready to fill a space in your heart!
Enya has settled in very well, I think. She’s gained a bunch of weight - yay! - and has a much happier expression.
The herd dynamics have been interesting! At first, my mare Elfa seemed super happy to have a breedmate in the herd; they were inseparable (and Elfa retained her place at the bottom of the hierarchy, below my gelding Fritz - always the alpha "mare" - and Enya):
But it seems like once it dawned on Elfa that Enya was going to get some attention from me, she decided she had to put her in her place! There ensued a several week process of Elfa moving up in the herd, and I had to start putting hay in more places to ensure that Enya got enough. Things have settled down now, and the two girls seem to be getting closer again, or at least there is mutual tolerance. Never anything really dramatic, just a shift of places!
Behaviorally, Enya is pretty easy to work with - she's super sweet, and has none of Elfa's tendency to play the game of ear-pinning and pouting (it's really all a game, but we do have to have a serious discussion about it from time to time). But there are some things under the surface that I'm working on, notably some boundary issues. What I mean is that she goes where she wants to go or feels the need to go, even if someone is in the way!
This is particularly the case in her stall; I do think (as you said when we were discussing her) that she has some concern when she's confined; you had mentioned crossties, which I don't have, but I think it's a little bit the same in the stall. But even outside the stall, if, for example, one of the other two is nearby and she feels she needs to get out of there, she can get way too close to me. I've been going back to my old Buck Brannaman training for this, both to build our relationship and also to do some direct work on creating that "this-is-MY-space" bubble around me that's so important.
Finally, I'm going to be curious to see how sound she is for riding, to be honest. As you know, it doesn't really matter that much to me whether she's rideable or not - I adopted her as a companion. Her hocks are very straight, and she moves a little ouchily!
She's also stiff as a board laterally - lots of braciness! But the Brannaman exercises will help with that. I think some of it might be the frozen ground. It's been particularly bad this year, because we got almost no snow until February. Instead, it was freeze-thaw, freeze-thaw, which created hard, uneven ground. She and I (and everybody) are looking forward to spring.
I'm definitely glad to have the new pony - she is really teeny! - in my herd! I'm getting more and more attached toher, and am loving getting to know her.
Thanks again for making it possible -
We've always heard every pony needed a little girl, but what we didn't know is that every Lipizzan needs a champion and brave boy to take care of them. Eclipse is so happy to be adopted into a loving family and have a 15 year old young man who understands my history and loves me unconditionally. In addition to being a horse whisperer, he's quite the poet. He wrote this about me:
"I can only hope that this life I now live lasts. Hopefully one day, my kind will see a future without discrimination or pain. Hopefully one day, all living beings can live with freedom and in harmony. Me and the one I’ve grown close to can only look towards the moon and star lit sky and hope." I’m so happy to know that I’ve found my forever home and that I can inspire the future generation of Lipizzans owners.
Eclipse —is one of the mystery horses of the LRF. She is not a Lipizzan but she certainly looks like one. The preliminary DNA tests at Texas A&M showed that her genetic markers are very similar to the Venezuelan Criollo, Peruvian Paso, and Chilean Criollo breeds. We’re not sure of her exact heritage but she certainly has the flavor of a Spanish horse.
Eclipse loves attention. She stands great for the farrier and loves to be groomed. However, like most of us, she doesn’t like shots! This mare has no reservations about making her feelings known and will give her opinion when she feels it’s necessary.
3-20-19 I am about to get on Sir in the next couple of weeks; he has been really good and very accepting of everything with only a few minor problems. Lynn
2-4-19 Sir is doing well and seems happy. I have not been on him yet. He has head issues but is doing much better and is giving to the bit a little. He, like Leonardo, does have a temper and don't know if this is Lip. I shortened his side reins the other day one notch which is a more educated training level length and he pinned his ears and snaked his head and was mad. Put them back and he was fine. He has been in them for months so thought he would be okay. He is muscling up and is developing much better gaits and is much better balanced on the lunge. Lynn
11-1-18 To Sir, with love. Just like the 60s movie, we love our Sir. A 14 year-old registered Lipizzan gelding, Sir has had very little training. He is most familiar with the lunge line. He can be very hot but handles well for the farrier and basic grooming tasks. Even with these challenges, we think the perfect home for our Sir is out there. Could he be your Sir, with love? LRF
Arya (originally Hope) has been with us since late 2018. She arrived on a snowy day in the trailer late at night, and was only too happy to leap off into the unknown of her new boarding stable. She had a five day cross-continental ride across the border and recovered over a few days thereafter. From the start, she struck us with her grace, movement and hardiness. She is our first Lipizzan.
Over the months of late 2018 and into the spring of 2019, we got to know her better. Our trainer, Katelyn, says that she is a wonderful learning horse for me. Arya loves to be with her herd, and it has started to include Frank and me. At the beginning, when she arrived at the boarding stable, she was nervous and tended to prefer the horse buddies in her herd. Her anxiety, mixed in with her awareness of her physical presence, was sometimes challenging to manage. Besides starting her with groundwork with the stable managers, we decided to set up training for her. We have seen her thrive with the one on one interaction from our trainer, Katelyn. She is a sensitive soul and appreciates pets as well as a steady hand from her human herd. She also seems to really enjoy liberty and groundwork, and we will continue with these activities over the next year. My favourite part of a groundwork session is watching her lean into me with trust in her eyes. We started riding the other day, and she seems a wonderfully responsive riding partner. She seems to have had extensive training in the past.
She teaches me every day in terms of refining my approach to horses, modulating my emotional states and being flexible yet assertive with my equine partner. We recently started to explore the impact of mindful awareness during our time with horses. Arya is a living reminder of how important it is for me to tune into the present moment and my non-verbal cues and energy. She, more so than any of our horses, is highly attuned to those cues and appears to transform when she has the right environment and approach to encourage her into trying new things with her rider/partner in groundwork. We love watching her figure things out. She has burrowed into our hearts!
We have photographs from a coaching session I had with Arya exploring a bright yellow ball in the outdoor arena soon after she arrived (with Hawkstone Stable coach, Rhonda). We also have more a more recent video at the trainer's stable (Katelyn Carter at Free Rein Ranch), of Frank navigating obstacles with her and enjoying the sun outside. She is a perfect addition to our family and we are looking forward to knowing her for the next several years. Thank you LRF for giving us a chance with her!
Success story to come!