First off.. I just want to thank you all for helping me get towards where I want to be.. You may or may not remember the thread I posted a little while ago about "getting out there" in the horse world, and since then I really feel like everything is coming together! I took your advice and I'm now volunteering with a horse rescue, where I met these 2 wonderful people and they offered for me to come over and eventually ride this mare that they are boarding.. She has been there for 4 years and been ridden maybe three times by her family. She's talked with the family - basically they just don't care about the horse anymore.
So, she offered for me to come over and love on her, get to know her until I would be able to ride her regularly. She is pretty small, I'm not good with hand measurements but I'm 5'4" and I believe I'm taller than her withers. She is some kind of appaloosa mix, used to be a school horse for a while. I think she's around 16 years. She is also the alpha mare of their group of 8.
Okay.. now that you know the whole background, I can get to my question. I've only been over there 2 times now, for a few hours each time. The second time I took her out into the pen, and I know I immediately need to show that I'm the leader and gain her respect. I was walking her around, making her follow my pace, stop when I stopped without running me over, and grooming her.
What are some other things I can do with her to establish my leadership but by gaining her trust and respect?
I've been making sure she does not rub on me, and didn't let her eat hay on the ground on her terms.
Also, how do I tell her that it's okay for her to eat some hay without her thinking it was her decision?
And while I was walking her around, I was trying to get her to trot and often she was really dragging behind me. How do I get her to the pace I want her at without just pulling and pulling on the lead rope?
They had me feed her while I was there and I plan to be there at least a few times a week.
Here is Freckles. As you can see, her butt is always facing me when I go towards her stall. I don't think it's an active thought on her part to make sure her butt is facing me, she just seems to always be that way. What does this mean? She is not one to kick, bite, etc. so I don't think she is threatening me.
Also, her ears are constantly swiveling back and forth. Is this just a sign that she feels she must be on alert since she doesn't trust me?
THANK YOU to anyone that read all that.. My thoughts are slightly jumbled, lol. I'm still pretty new to the horse world.. I've been riding since May every week. Please do not tell me to just hire a trainer or get someone more experienced.. I am definitely going to ask the owners for some help with things to do but I really wanted to know your guys' thoughts on her behaviors and how to work with her.
ETA: I made it sound like she hasn't barely been ridden in 4 years.. Just want to clarify that the 2 people I met are riding her. I'm not sure how regularly, and plan to check to see if I need to work on building back muscle and getting her back in shape first.