Hello, I'm looking for some advice about a 10 year old Paint horse that I have been working with for about 2 weeks now. She was trained and worked with a lot, but then she hadn't been ridden in over a year. Her owner asked me to work with her and see if I like her enough to buy her. I fell in love, and we have been working a lot, but still have some places for improvement.
I've been doing ground work for most of our time together, and we did go on one trail ride. For the most part she is doing awesome. Our main issues are, moving around when trying to mount, and tossing head with rein cues. I've been reading a lot and watching a lot of youtube videos about working with green horses, and I'm looking for some more specific advice, I guess. I know sometimes horses will move out of the way when they are in pain from ill fitting tack, but I use a bitless bridle, and she moves out of the way when using a saddle, or bareback. I've done some massage on her, and there is a spot on her back that seems to be a little tender, so I've been rubbing that and trying to focus on ground work that trains her to hold her head in a nice flexion. I think her back may be sore because 1) she hasn't been worked with in a year and is out of shape, and 2) she sticks her neck out, and doesn't round her back for support. As for the issue with head tossing, I think she's just being a butt, because she doesn't toss her head during ground driving, only when riding with her. What I have been setting goals (Before we're done working, you'll weave through 5 poles each way with no head tossing) The last time I rode her, we worked on turns and stopping for about 30 minutes before she stopped tossing her head. This is why I don't think that it is pain, is because after working with her, she stops doing it.
My main questions are:
1.Does anyone have any advice for getting her to hold still why I mount?
-I have been making her move in which ever way she moves when she avoids my mount. If she backs, I back her up 10 steps and try again. If she goes forward, then I make her lunge for 5 circles in each direction. If she steps out of the way, I diengage her hindquarters for a circle in each direction, and then try again. Also, once I get on her, I make her stand still for 30-60 minutes before we move, so she knows that being on doesn't mean moving immediately. It has been taking me about 15 minutes of doing these things to get her to eventually hold still, but I don't want to fight her forever... Any other tips?
2. Any tips for teaching her to keep her head flexed aside from ground driving and riding?
3. Any tips for ways to stop her from tossing her head with rein cues? I am very light on the reins as she is very sensitive. I use my legs as much as possible for cues, but sometimes her turn isn't tight enough, and I need to cue with the reins, so I pull very lightly, because she is so sensitive.
4. She hates the arena, but in my mind, that's too bad for her. Any games or mindful exercises we could do to make things a little more interesting for her?
I'm thinking she's probably still in a little bit of denial about having to be worked with, since she went so long without exercising.
Any other tips about getting a horse that hasn't been ridden in a while back into shape would also be greatly appreciated.
Thank you everyone