Rescued pony learns to Smile

Dakota was part of one of the worst rescue cases HorseWorld have ever attended. When she came in she had a foal at foot, was heavily pregnant, underweight and completely feral.

The conditions from which Dakota was rescued were unimaginable and despite being only 3 years old it was obvious she had experienced serious neglect and did not have any trust in people at all. Unfortunately, Dakota had been so neglected by her previous owners that her foal died shortly after being born, our team didn’t push her handling and gave her time to recover.

HorseWorld trainers, Kayleigh and Caitlin, have extensive experience handling horses from all backgrounds but Dakota and the horses she was rescued with posed a whole new challenge.

Kayleigh said: “The horses from Dakota’s group were unlike any we’ve ever worked with, it wasn’t just that they were frightened of us, their instincts overwhelmed them and told them to run from us so none of our usual methods worked.”

The training team spent hours sitting on a stool in a barn with Dakota just getting her used to being around people. Getting a head collar on her, this took a very long time even once Dakota had overcome her fear of people she had her own ideas about her training programme. Everything had to be done on her terms. Nearly 3 years after she arrived at HorseWorld she is finally able to do things a normal horse would be able to do and more!

Dakota is intelligent and will do anything for a treat, so the team started to clicker train her to do tricks and she is now a fully-fledged agility pony! Dakota will follow her trainers around an agility course, over small jumps and tarpaulin, through water and underneath archways. She will smile on command and can even count to five with her hoof. Kayleigh said: “Dakota is an amazing pony, she is intelligent and has got such a funny character. We are all really proud of the progress she has made, she will be able to meet the public at our open days in 2019!”

Dakota will be performing at our Open Days, the next one being the 22nd of June 2019. For more information click here: If you would like to contribute towards Dakota’s care and help us to rescue more ponies like Dakota then you can adopt her by clicking this link:

Article by: Keeley Mitson

Posted on: 29th April 2019