People-shy mare foaling any day - tips?
I'm sorry if this is long! I'm trying to give you an idea of this mare's personality and what we know of her history. In November, a good friend that I ride with rescued two horses that appeared to have a lot of potential from the meat truck at an auction.
We found out afterward that one came off a rodeo truck because she had failed as a bucking horse. She is a beautiful red dun registered quarter horse with, as it turns out, exceptional training in cutting and western games. She's from a rodeo ranch and is 15 years old. She lived on the ranch most of her life and made a lot of money until she started bucking every time she was ridden. She was sold to someone else, who then sold her a month later to a rodeo as a bucking horse for rough stock.
The original ranch told us that she had been in a field with a yearling Friesian colt that they thought was not capable of impregnating her. They were wrong, and as far as we know she's carrying a QH/Friesian foal (she's definitely in foal, but who knows if it's Friesian). We don't know when she will foal, or if she has ever foaled before. The vet estimated March 29, but as of this morning she's still not showing any signs that it will be within the next week or so.
This mare has serious control issues and since November has been very difficult to catch and has repeatedly tried to kick anyone who gets too close, hard. She's also extremely head shy, but once you catch her she leads very well. If you ask her quietly to do something, she's extremely responsive, but reacts very badly to being told. I haven't had much to do with her until about a week ago, when my friend, the owner, was distraught that the girl who had been working with the mare wasn't making any progress. I decided to see if I could get her to trust me, and shortly afterward it was decided that the foal will be mine. Things have been going extraordinarily well and she will now consistently nicker at my approach, come right over and let me take her halter to walk her around, and I can rub her head. We're working toward haltering (she wears one 24/7 for now).
I know that her behaviour might change dramatically when she has this foal. But for now, I'm really concerned about her fears of people and her control issues rubbing off on the foal, and that she won't let us close enough to be able to work with the foal. There is nobody at the farm who is really experienced with troubled horses, but for lots of reasons moving her isn't an option until the foal is weaned. After weaning, the mare is going to a fantastic trainer who specializes in these types of horses.
Right now she trusts me and we're getting along well. I'm doing my best to keep building that trust before she foals. Does anyone have any tips or words of wisdom to help us make the best of this situation? I really want to do everything I can to make sure that this foal gets the best early education possible (especially because this foal will be my first horse), and I want to continue working with the mare. Any advice and dos or don'ts are very welcome!