Smash: A Very Special Police Horse
Nearly a year and a half ago, the Houston Mounted Patrol gained a very special new member–a flashy paint gelding named Smash. I knew as soon as I heard about Smash that I should feature him as my Naturally Healthy Horse of the Month!
What makes Smash so special is not the fact that he’s beautiful (and a former Paint World Congress Champion), but that he’s deaf and has made quite a transformation since joining the mounted patrol.
Sergeant Leslie Wills of the Houston Police Department has taken a special interest in Smash. She was kind enough to tell me his story.
“I was contacted by a lady in Oklahoma who wanted to donate Smash to our program. She is a big proponent of barefoot horses and had heard about our unit and how we use Natural Horsemanship training techniques and that all out horses are barefoot and wanted to donate him to us,” Sergeant Wills said.
Smash came to Houston in somewhat poor condition after he’d obtained a nasty infection from being gelded (he was a stud until December, 2012), but Sergeant Wills said his biggest obstacle to overcome was just learning to be a horse.
“Since he was a stallion for so long, he really did not know how to interact with the herd. He has never been dominant in any way and really got pushed around at first. Although he still isn’t comfortable being out in the pasture, he has learned to play with the other horses,” she said.
The Houston Mounted Patrol keeps all of their horses barefoot and uses Parelli-based natural horsemanship training techniques. Sergeant Wills believes this has really helped Smash to become a successful police horse.
“We do not use any force, fear, or intimidation when training our horses and we have great success with all of them. All of our horses are donated for one reason or another, but all of them flourish with Natural Horsemanship because we have learned to speak their language instead of trying to get them to fit into a small concept,” she said.
But perhaps what has helped Smash the most is the love and attention he’s received from five young women, who identify with Smash because they, too, have special needs. Christi, Ashley, Hillary, Meg, and Katherine, all close friends living in the Houston area, have worked hard to raise over $15,000 in order to sponsor Smash for the next three years.
“Smash used to be rather shy and stay at the back of the stall when visitors arrived. He would not eat treats that they would try to give him. In fact we were told several times by visitors that they thought Smash was sick because of his lack of interaction. But since the Smash Girls have come into his life he is the first one there for a treat and he will eat anything now!” said Sergeant Wills.
“The relationship that Smash has with the girls really is incredible. When he sees them coming he actually runs up to the fence and nickers. I get a tear in my eye every time I see it. Love is a powerful thing,” she said.
The ‘Smash Girls’ and Sergeant Wills have created a facebook page if you’d like to keep up with him or help support the girls’ sponsorship.
To learn more about how to sponsor one of the Houston Mounted Patrol horses, click here.