Short back story: I move annually for work and do not see that as a fair existence for a horse. Will only be like this another year or two, but for now I lease.
I am currently leasing a YOUNG mare from a super nice, super quiet, sweet young (24ish?) lady.
The first week on this young little mare (I'm guessing this 15hh palo is no more than 4 1/2) was BLISS- I could get her out on the trail, into the beautiful state park the barn borders. No spook, nothing. I kept thinking "how did this chick get this horse like this???" Mind you when I leased this mare I was only looking to trail ride 2-4 times per week for slow scenic tours.
Then week two. The mare starts giving me issues. A little balk here, a little "I'm not moving" there... and fight fight FIGHT. I have been riding for 25 years, all types of horses, all sorts of situations. This little mare put me in tears. TEARS I TELL YOU! (first time ever on a horse I cried!) I could not figure out why a horse that was so great one week could go to super sour so fast!
In the process of going to the barn where the mare is boarded, almost every day over week 2 and 3 (some riding, some not) to try and establish a connection with her, I got more and more information on her that I wasn't clued in on when I came out for the trial ride. Like the fact that the girl just bought the mare in June. And that no one had EVER seen the girl get the mare off the property and down the trail. HUH???
I had noticed on the second day out there with her that she was slightly clubby in her front right. I lunged her and watched her move, watched her at liberty and it did not seem to be affecting her, but I knew it had to be addressed.
I noticed a slight issue going downhill- saddle issue. Resolved by using my own gear.
In conjunction with a trainer we decided she needed to be taken out of the bit the owner wanted used and into a softer slow twist snaffle. I also got this trainer to help me convince the owner that she needed corrective shoeing in the front, and needed some time training, to which the owner allowed two training sessions. In which the trainer suggested better gear, being firm (being the alpha), shoeing, and more time spent with the mare, to keep her from souring (all things I thought I had suggested, but in these leases you have to be careful to not step on toes...).
I have spent almost EVERY DAY working with this mare in some form since. From getting her out on the trails, to ring work, to round pen work, to ground work, to coming and sitting in her stall with her for an hour on the days it rains too much to do anything else (no indoor available).
In the long run I find out she is (duh) a first time owner who went from renting out hack line horses by the hour a few times a week to full blown ownership. The mare arrived in June. I started leasing early sept.]. Her feet hadn't been touched. She hadn't been bathed. Her diet is not based on her use or activity... I could go on.
Her owner is a very mild mannered and private quiet girl and honestly she does not have the time for horse ownership at this time, (She has a lot on her plate, school, work, doesn't live at home, has a lot of obligations and doesn't live close) nor the time to really learn. I like her, but she needs horse husbandry... ugh
I am logging a LOT of hours on this horse. Like 5-6 days a week 2+ hours a day more or less. She has soooooooooo much potential. But the problem is consistency. She lets this mare get away with MURDER. And when I come out on my day after it is her day, its 45mins of "Okay, its ME not her here"... And I can handle her pretty well. I have gotten my alpha role across clearly and without being a total cowboy and we have established (for the most part) who's in charge.
The owner gets very frustrated and gives up VERY easily. And won't really accept help. She feels anything more than a good heel nudge is mean, and honestly she's probably afraid when the mare throws her head and backs her into the pricker bushes and off the trail (her trademark "screw this I don't wanna" move)
How do I tell an owner, who loves her horse, without burning bridges or causing havoc, (and mind you I have told her already in VERY NICE, albiet potentially passive aggressive TERMS) that she is the problem? That she really should consider more lessons and more time with her horse? That horse ownership is more than showing up MAYBE 2 days per week to play with her for an hour or less? AGH! Maybe the novelty of horse ownership has worn off? (BTW I am also paying 2/3rds of her board to lease this mare)
I'm sure there are important details I have left out here, so ask away. I have no issue with being honest.
I am not sure how much longer I will be able to lease the mare (I may move in as little as 45 days) but I want to figure out a way to get the owner more involved, or to realize she is in over her head.
The mare is only going to get worse when I leave and that frankly scares the heck out of me. If there is ANY way I can prevent that (barring stealing the horse in the night when I move LOL) I'm open to your suggestions!