Midwest Horse Welfare Foundation, Inc. ----Discussion Forum

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Gracie needs a new thread here.  I will post links to her other threads, but I think we will start off with a fresh new one here for Gracie, and share the new updates as they unfold for Gracie in 2014. 

Here is a link to her original thread from when Gracie was first rescued with the other horses from Trempealeau County: 

Here is a link to another thread from after Gracie was rehabilitated: 

Just to refresh, Gracie is an 8 year old mare, breed unknown. By now, most of you are already very familiar with Gracie's story and the journey she has been through. If not, we strongly urge you to follow the links above to her forum threads, where you can read all about her from way back to when we first met and rescued her. Gracie is now 8 years old, sound, healthy and in excellent condition health. She stands at 14.3 hands tall and is current on her trims, wormers and vaccinations. Gracie is not broke to saddle, for those of you that are not familiar with her, and she will be a long term project for someone with the time and patience. That person will be a hero to our website followers, as many people have been following her story for a long, long time. She has trust issues and can be very fearful at times. She really needs to get to know and trust her handler, then she can begin her training under saddle. If you are looking for a long term project and enjoy the groundwork part of working with horses, don't be afraid to ask about Gracie. She is a very special girl who came from a terrible background. All she needs now is someone to take her the rest of the way. 

Karen W
Chapter 3 :)
I'm surprised no one asked why I started a new thread here for Gracie, or what was new with Gracie. 

Chapter 3 begins.  We've been talking with Karen W. for a while now about Gracie.  Karen adopted Mystique, so you will know her from her postings about Mystique.  We are extremely thrilled to announce that Gracie left today to go live with Karen so that she can spend a lot of time with Gracie and see what the next level for Gracie is!  I cannot begin to express what great news this is and how happy we are that Karen has opened up her heart and is so very generous to take Gracie in under her wing.  Karen came and met Gracie when she brought her friend Laura up to meet Passion Lady (who was adopted today and left with Gracie on the same trailer).  After much thought and some sleepless nights, Karen offered to take Gracie in and work with her.  Gracie and Karen will be spending a lot of time together, and Gracie will be involved with Karen's lessons as well and hanging out and meeting a lot of different people.  I am really thrilled beyond words and really look forward to hearing about the upcoming adventures. 

Here are a couple of pictures from today, including Passion Lady and her adopter, Laura. 

Thank you so much to Karen W., Ryan and Laura!!! 

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I have to point out...best photo bomb ever in the second picture.  That is Angelo rolling in the snow behind Karen and Gracie and you can see his face there down on the ground.  :)  LOL! 
This really is such incredible news!  What a selfless and generous thing to do!  Gracie will benefit so much from her new chapter and I can't wait to hear all the progress.  Thank you Karen!!
This is great news. So excited for Gracie. Thank you Karen W. for taking Gracie in and giving her the opportunity. I know many supporters of MHWF will be excited to see her progress.

(and Angelo...great photo bomb. I like how you made certain your head saw seen between the bars of the gate. You clever pony!)
I have been holding my breath for so long hoping that this would come to fruition.  Gracie could not be in better hands and will be brought along with great care and expertise.  I have trusted my most loved equines and even more so, my grand daughter to Karen's capable hands and heart.  If anyone can bring Gracie to her potential, Karen can.
Karen W
Well we made it back to Ryan's (stable owner's place) safely. Gracie unloaded very carefully & nicely.  She didn't eat any of the hay in the trailer, but really wasn't sweated up much considering it was nearly a 3 hour drive from Scott & Karen's. We stopped at the Kwik Trip in Mauston for a quick snack as we had left at 9 a.m. to deliver another horse before we could pick up the girls. They did well waiting in the trailer for 10 min. I could see them watching out the window :). Once unloaded, she was a little leery of walking into the big aisle that leads to the arena.  When you get to the end of that long-ish aisle the arena gate is to the left & the horse-y "toys" and another sliding door are to the right.  We took both girls into the arena & let them stretch their legs & explore as much as they wanted. Once they were ready we then opened the next door to the stalls & Gracie froze when she realized there were a whole lot of horses in there - 23 smells, sounds & faces looking at her. Laura hung back with Lady & I think Gracie kept checking to be sure she was still behind her.  She was tentative & didn't want to move so we just hung there until she was ready.  Eventually we walked up & down the aisle so she could see everybody. Lady & Laura did the same.  Next was the stall.  She intially didn't want to go in, but we waited.  She really seems to like to observe, before she decides to proceed and that's fine with me. Once she was in the stall & discovered the hay, she was in heaven I think & I didn't matter then - lol. I'm sure once she gets to know me, she'll warm up so no worries. Mystique (who's stall is kitty corner from Gracie), however, was trying really hard to get my attention by flipping her head up & down - lol. Mystique got a carrot & I offered Gracie some apple slices, but she didn't want them nor any treats.  She just wanted the hay :)

The pictures taken in the arena didn't turn out so great. I tried video taping their exploration time, but each time, within 10 seconds, Lady had her nose up to my camera/phone so that didn't work.  I have a lot of horse nose pictures -lol. The twins (my Thursday students are going to take pics (& hopefully videos)) so we can document & show you what Gracie is learning.

Anyway, she seems content for the night & I am now home to take care of my critters here.  I'll be back out in the morning to check on her & start to get to know her.  Everything will be at Gracie's pace so we'll see what she knows, what worries her & go from there.  Many of my students already came out this evening to see her (& Lady).  I will introduce her to students & lesson horses a little at a time. I need to feel out how Gracie feels about it all. I have a great "crew" that are just as excited as me to have Gracie as a part of our team.  Let the exciting adventures begin!!
Donna M
Thank you Karen W. Gracie is such a beautiful girl and deserves to have this chance. Thank you Scott and Karen for never giving up on her. I've thought of Gracie often and have hoped an opportunity for her would present itself. 
Donna R
Thank you Karen W. for providing Gracie with this new chapter in her life.  Very exciting news!
I kind of figured something was up with the new thread! thank you so much Karen! this is wonderful news for Ms Gracie! it will give her a better chance of finding her forever home that she deserves so much! glad you guys made it home safe and sound!
I know that Scott and Karen B. would never give up on a horse. This is going to be one very popular thread. I am so excited.

I'm glad you all made it home safe and sound and things are going so well and settling so nicely. 

I forgot to mention...Gracie doesn't like apples.  She never has, and is pretty fussy about the kind of treats she likes too.  That may have just been nerves in her not wanting the treat, but she has never liked apples.  She will surely let you know when you offer something she likes (she wanted me to tell you that Nickermakers are her favorite).  :)  :) 

We all held it together really well today and didn't let the tears go (not that it was easy), it was a very emotional day, and all very happy emotions! 

Jenni O.
Yay, great news! Good luck, Karen. We are all looking forward to updates, and some day seeing Gracie in a hopefully forever home. No pressure, really. ;) It will be interesting to see her progress... much better than the Mustang Millionaire series.
Karen W
Thanks everyone. I'm very excited to start this journey with Gracie. Not only do I teach horses & people, but they really do teach me as well. I love puzzles & I think that is why I love training so much. Each horse is different and I need to sort out which piece is right at each moment for each horse. I don't think one is ever done learning & I'm very, very interested to hear what Gracie has to say!

Ah, Karen, I remember reading she didn't like something, but I thought it was carrots, thus that is why Mystique got the carrot & Gracie, the apple. Oops... Nickermakers.... got it :)

Jenni O. - I don't get the channel that the Mustang show was on, but I followed it live as 4 people I know were in it. I'm not time orientated so I don't know if that is something I'd want to do as there is so much pressure to "get it done" so quickly.  Some do wonderful things & others... it's hard for me to watch... Besides... I already have a Mustang. She's 34 now and happily retired, of course.

As far as Gracie's forever home, my students/friends at the stable already were teasing me tonight & asking me if I REALLY thought I was fostering her. Hmmmm...
Anna WI
I am so happy to see more people step up and foster. Karen W, it sounds like you have the perfect setup to work with Gracie as well as having other people around who will be able to work with her eventually so she can learn to trust more than one person.

I kept thinking when this new thread was started of Paul Harvey and "Now for the rest of the story!"... Way to go Karen W!  Looking forward to hearing lots of good things about you & Gracie.

Karen, thank you so much for opening your heart to Gracie.  She is really great and was doing so well with learning new things, but she needed someone with more time than I had available.  Please e-mail me if you want and I will tell you what I have or haven't done with her. 
Karen W

Hi all - Here's a Gracie update. Turnout this a.m. went well. Ryan does all that & said that while she was hesitant & needed observing time, she still was calm & great for him. She & Lady are sticking close in their herd and both were sunning themselves side by side when I went out to fetch Gracie early this afternoon. They didn't want to be separated, but it all worked out with just a few fusses on both ends. Nothing extreme by any means. 

I could make this a novel if I went into training details & behavioral details so I'll try to be brief. My goal today, however, was to get a feel for who Gracie is.  I put her through some very basic requests that I expect from all of my horses & for the most part she has a lot of general concepts. I noticed a few "holes" in some of the things I like to have in place before I start under saddle (no big deal, I can fix that) and I also like feather-lite cues so I will be working on refining that for her. She did have a curious behavior pop up that I've only seen in 4 other horses I've worked with. I don't want to expand on it at this time because I don't want to label her. When I saw it, however, it immediately made some of her troubles she may have had in the past crystal clear to me. I've had success working through this before & I will bring this up at a later time once I've had more time to see if it's a consistent behavior or a flash of a memory of her past. 

Regardless, my assessment of my first play time with Gracie is that she quite the lovely & willing horse with a TON of potential.  She is extremely sensitive and intelligent (similar to Mystique!) and her tries are sometimes so subtle that if you don't yet have a trained eye... you could miss it. She does have a tendency to want to look away/avoid eye contact, but I think those who have been following her story knows that that is a part of her trust & fear troubles. At this time, I don't think it will be too hard to change with a lot of consistency & exposure (when she's ready) to different people. I need to establish for her the baseline first.  I don't know how long that will take yet. She is not a horse that can be rushed & I need to be sensitive to that. Once I feel she is consistent in the "base-line," then I will start with one student working with her & then increase it (or not) depending on her response.

I'm off again for a lesson & may bring Gracie in to the arena to hang with me for a little while. Gotta go! 

Oh & Kristin, I appreciate your offer & if I have questions, I'll let you know. I do this for a living, though, so from my perspective Gracie is a clean slate. While I am aware of her past, I won't let that define her (we'll bring to fruition the positive that you & Karen/Scott have done, of course).  After today, I now have an idea of what she knows and where to go from here. Whenever I work with a new horse or student with their own horse, there comes a point where a connection happens. If you've ever seen the movie, Avatar & the part where they connect their hair to the horse or dragon and that connection happens... that's the treasure I seek. When it happens, it's a beautiful thing and I can't help but cry happy tears.  I can't wait for that with Gracie!  Now I REALLY have to get going!!

are you saying that once *Gracie* trusts you, she will be READY but not rushed into meeting other humans and then feeling more secure? Sounds like you have a gooood plan. Hope you have more time for more updates and a few photos of her. It seems so hard to even try to understand what these horses go through, before MHWF.. After they have been there and learn that humans can be TRUSTED, it is a real awakening. Heck, I am human, and TRUST is a issue with me and other HUMANS... Cuz we move ahead, but we NEVER forget.
Im so glad to hear gracie is being given a chance. Fostering for mhwf is very rewarding. Thank you karen w for stepping up and helping her in her journey!
Denise S - WW
WOWZA, love these updates Karen & I am so glad that Gracie is being given this chance. Thank you!!
Such an awesome opportunity for Gracie...thank you Karen!!
Karen W
Another quick update from last night (& Char this will address your question as well)... When I got to the stable last night for my p.m. lessons, it was quite the busy place. So, I took that opportunity to take Gracie into the arena with all the activity of horses & riders to just let her be with me & observe.  She did react/jump a few times at some things, but stuck close to me & let me reassure her that just because other horses were being worked in different ways, it had nothing to do with us & she could just relax.  She did do one spin & ended up clipping her back leg with her hoof & started to bleed. Nothing major, but I wanted to put something on it, of course.  A student of mine happened to be chatting with me & offered to hold her while I got some first aid things. I trusted her with just standing with Gracie & Gracie, at first, looked at me like, "You're leaving me with a STRANGER?"  Kathy did really well as I walked away & she also held her so I could clean up her leg & put stuff on it.  All in the middle of the arena with activity all around. Gracie was PERFECT for us.  Three of the 5 other people in the arena were my students practicing with their horses & they came over to chat (with their horses) and Gracie only was a little concerned. "My" people know to back off if needed & in doing that at the right time (approach & retreat), Gracie really became ok with it. Then another situation arose with another horse/rider that caused both Gracie & I concern so I felt it was best if we left since we didn't know how that was going to turn out. No need to expose her to that kind of trouble just yet. She calmly walked back to her stall with me & a few other people came to see/meet her & she was just fine.  I then did my lesson and helped Laura & Lady for a bit. It was after 9 when we left, but Gracie had her head over the stall for many to see and... with my permission my students were allowed to offer her treats if she seemed receptive to them approaching her in her stall. She was! She ate all of the goodies... including an APPLE!  lol. So, Karen, Gracie has made YOU a liar - haha :) Or... our apples just taste better than yours - lol. It was a good night & we're getting along just peachy :) On to play with a couple horses & then to Gracie a bit later.  
LOL!  That is great with the apple!  I had a horse who would ONLY eat the apples off of our trees, but offer him an apple from any grocery store and no go, would not touch them (probably smart). 

Nice update, sounds like Gracie is taking things in stride!  Thanks Karen! 
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