Tobi is a 6 year old, bay, about 17 hand, Dutch Warmblood. Tobi has had some trouble with people. Tobi is currently at the Luv Shack Ranch Rescue in Cave Creek, AZ. Tobi was a replacement for my Curbside Service demo horse at the Queen Creek Horse EXPO on April 30. Scheduled was an unknown to me, 6 year old, green broke Clydesdale was to be my demo horse, but his owner had surgery two days before and couldn’t attend. So Joey, who owns the Luv Shack and is a friend of mine, brought a horse for me. Tobi.

Tobi lost an eye. And then someone took his emotional stability, trust and safety.

About 45 minutes before my demo, I went to see Tobi in a stall. The eye surgery was very well done and he seemed a really nice fellow. I petted him a bit, gave him a treat and then went to see how haltering would go. Or not go. He’s almost 17 hands. So the eye went wild, the head went up and the shoulder buldged at me as he tried to decide whether to shove into me or try to retreat somewhere in the stall. At 5’5″, that’s a high head for me. So, approach and retreat with the head and set some boundries with the shoulder issue. When the head is at a little lower level, I notice a white line of hair running behind the left ear. What the heck is that? Obviously a slice. Hmmm…. that would explain the head issue.

I got him out and moved him around a bit to see what he could/would do on-line. And then it was time to get ready for my demo spot.

As I didn’t know the horse’s story, I asked Joey to do an intro for us. And then I was sick as…

she recounted how he ended up at the Luv Shack about two weeks pryor to the demo day. It makes me tear-up as I write this and I was unsuccessful at keeping the tears at bay while I listened to her intro.

After recovering from the eye surgery, Tobi was put with a “trainer” to desensitize him on his blind side. He was tied to a pole, hobbled and then sacked out. He flipped out and flipped over and was hung. Because he was hobbled, he couldn’t regain his feet and they couldn’t get him un-hung. This being the source of the white line of hair at the base of his ears and across his head as the halter sliced into him. Nice story, eh?

The large group of people in the stands was quiet. I had to collect myself and do the demo. I laid it out. Yes, this was to be a Curbside Service demo. Yes, I thought it would go fine. However, my interaction with this horse is going to be about THIS horse. Not the crowd and not the Curbside Service.

The beauty of Curbside Service is that it’s precisely these cases that really benefit.

And it went really well. Tobi got a lot of reasons to trust me and also to experience me at my “I’m going to do a lot of things that I’ll let you think about, get used to and learn to not mind.” Things that don’t really seem to have anything to do with what many think is Curbside Service, but it’s such a great skill/task/knowledge building opportunity. But, all of those opportunities include forward, backward, left, right and stand still and keep your emotions in check while you’re learning. Even though I know how good the work is that Curbside Service does, and I always expect it to work, I’m still amazed at the change in the horse. The more you do it with more different horses, the more you and each horse get out of it. The crowd really was amazed at the result as well, which after all, was my hope. To change the way they think about their horse.

What a wonderful horse this guy is! I just fell in love with him and I hope he gets a really good home (anybody out there???). I had a wonderful opportunity working with him and the crowd loved the demo. Afterward, I was talking to a bunch of people by the rail and still messing with Tobi’s head and ears while he struggled with it. Then…

he pressed his big nostril to my cheek and just kept it there and breathed on me. I stopped talking and just stood there. For almost two minutes. Ever so gently, his tongue poked out of his lips and he licked my cheek.

Just about un-did me!