I got my project, Bamber, back in August. My boarder made me severely uncomfortable and no one ever really wanted to stick around long, so I didn't get to do extensive work with him until I moved him late October/early November.
When I got him, Bam was extremely hard to handle, let alone catch. He wasn't wild, just jumpy. I would move my hand toward his neck, his halter, etc. and he would nearly flip out (jump away and stare wide-eyed). To catch him, I simply took his feed into a stall; he would go in, I would put up the stall guard, let him eat a few bites, halter him, let him finish, and away we go.
Now he's where I work at the livery; 100% horse-safe property, plenty of mentor horses. He has his own paddock. From day 1 he was a different horse; friendlier, in my pocket. I figured it was because this was new, and I was familiar; however, it is still the same. At the old place if I came in his direction, he would pin his ears and then scurry away -- there was no getting close to him! (He tried to kick my old boarder more than once, so he claims.)
I have spent all of this time working out the kinks on his ground manners. Picking up his feet. Accepting a full grooming. Leading properly. The works.
A friend of mine recently asked if I've been on him yet. I explained to her that I wanted to work out his ground manners before I worked him under saddle. (He was ridden when he was 2 -- but since he's a hard catch, spent 3 years on pasture.) And boy, did she look at me like I had 13 heads! The way she said "Are you serious?" made me feel like I've been doing this all wrong.
Bamber stands tied for hours. He grooms well (but doesn't stand well for his hind). Halters great (used to spook when you tried to put the halter over his nose or lead around his neck). Easier than any of our other horses to catch; he comes to you. Picks up all 4 feet. Today he even let me use a spray bottle to spray wound treatment on his face where our "old bitty" bit the bridge of his nose, and then rub the treatment in without an argument.
With the progress he's made, I feel like I'm on the right track with my boy. I give him 1 lesson a day, work him on that (plus his previous lessons) for about 2 days, before I teach him something new. I'm in no rush to have him dead broke and under saddle like a champ.
What do you guys think? Would you take this trail with a similar horse or would you jump on its back ASAP like my friend claims she would?
I also feel I should include that the new property has a round pen, a small paddock (where he is now), and medium pasture where I work our other green horses. The previous pasture had two good-sized (nothing huge, but not small either) pastures, and no round pen. So my choices were: work horse in open area or with barbed wire fencing. So I put that off and worked on his handling there until he was moved where he is now, where I have fewer kinks to work on.