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Horses have unique personalities

Staff writer

Sabrina Shields of Lincolnville enjoys riding horses. She said she doesn’t remember a time when she didn’t have a horse. She likes everything about horses and is intrigued by their unique personalities.

“I’ve been bucked off five times, kicked, stepped on, and bit,” she said. “When that happens, it just makes me more determined.”

She has had three horses for a long time.

Thunder, a 23-year-old sorrel gelding, is a goofball, Shields said. He likes to play. He throws around a horse ball, a ball that has handles he can grab unto with his teeth. He’ll also pick up empty feed sacks and shake them.

“He’s the ornery one,” Shields said.

Sassy, a 17-year-old mare, is “lazy and uppity” and doesn’t like to do more than she absolutely has to. As the oldest female, she is in charge.

“Wherever Sassy goes, they all go,” Shields said.

Durango’s Lady, a 10-year-old Appaloosa mare, was a present to Shields’ 10-year-old daughter, Leah, from her grandparents on her first birthday. Durango’s Lady loves people, Shields said.

Two years ago, her husband, Heath, bought two horses that he wants to use on the farm to check cattle and fences. Roscoe and Denver, 17 and 8 years old, respectively, are both green broke and are still in training.

“Roscoe is laid back and goes with the flow, but Denver is flighty,” Shields said. “Everything scares him. I need to work with him to build up his trust. Once you get his trust, a horse will do anything for you.”

Adding two new horses excited the others. Shields kept them separated by a fence for a couple of days to keep them from being hurt. After she put them together, they ran around until they learned the pecking order.

The horses like to nip and kick at each other, and sometimes they get into fights, especially when the younger ones are vying for dominance. They invariably lose.

Shields has spent a lot of time training the horses.

“Horses are flight animals,” she said. “They run before thinking. Their brains have two sides, thinking and reacting.”

The three original ones have been trained not to react to loud sounds or touches. Shields said she can throw saddle blankets at them or cover their heads and they will stay calm. They have been “desensitized.”

Their whole demeanor changes when the couple’s three children are around, Shields said. They calm down because they don’t want to hurt the children.

The horses like to test her. They will walk away from her or turn their butts to her.

“It’s a sign of disrespect,” she said. “I have to let them know I’m in charge.”

She never knows how the horses will react when she goes out to them. Sometimes they will run around and kick, and sometimes they will come right up to her. If she has grain or treats for them, they will greet her eagerly.

Thunder and Sassy have been in Lincolnville’s Octoberfest parade a few times. Ten-year-old Leah rides Thunder.

The Shieldses have two other children: Rilynn, 4, and Kimber, 10 months. Rilynn enjoys horseback rides with her older sister. Shields said Leah wants to show horses some day.

Last modified Sept. 7, 2017

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