Alright everyone.. this is the dilemma. (And I like the "training opinions differ" thread with "the owner is always right".)
My problem is that while working with my filly, I'm going slow. Details surrounding her from her previous owners are rusty, and she's not quite as "yearling" as I was told.
Cerra is quite intelligent and eager to learn. She ties well, stands well, lifts feet well! And, for a new place.. she's pretty **** well-mannered. The only problem that I am having with her is pawing. While tied in a standing stall, she's quiet. She is catching on fast to voice commands, and because it is her first week, I'm not trying to overwhelm her. I've been doubling the commands up: "Over, over; Back, back; Walk on please. Walk on" with little effort. (Has moved over flush against left wall with just vocal command :))
The stall is an over-sized standing stall, and she likes to pin herself diagonally against the right side when I am working on her left. She is surprisingly sound and hasn't reared/kicked (yet), but as a precaution, to get to her right side, I walk into the second stall and ask. Then tell ("Over, over" push more). Normally, she's pretty good. A few times, she wouldn't respond, so I had my crop and gently tapped after asking/telling.
I also had the crop with me to show that I can "make it scary and I can take it away". Also, during grooming, she pawed. A sharp "No" and firm shoulder smack stopped it right quick (did not use crop for pawing). After the third time? of pawing, she stopped trying. Good girl.
Then the Barn Manager calls me out. My friend had just returned her gelding, and I walked out a little reluctant to leave the filly tied alone. She is nervous to be alone (natural, it's a new, scary place) and FLIPPED. She was pawing and leaning and just all around scared. I came back to her, and she calmed down, however, the BM followed me. The BM makes me nervous, and I have a general feeling that she dislikes me. Negative energy emits.
Cerra calms down to a point, but starts throwing her head, pawing and pacing. The BM turns to me: "She's scared. Just let her ride it out and let her be. Pawing is okay. She's fine." -- This is the same woman who wanted me to walk in there and release her mid-freak out. Then she noticed the crop and asked about it. "It's further incentive," I told her. "Ask, tell, demand. And it's not like I'm beating her with it. It's a tap. (ie - "Cerra, over over during push. Over over during push, push. Over over, tap.)" "Well, she's just a baby, and spanking her isn't going to help anything." o.O
The filly didn't rear or kick or anything, she was just nervous. And between her frazzled state and the BM, I was getting nervous. A few deep breaths later, I gently approached her. She was tense as all hell and spooky about what I'm assuming was the BM's presence because she was eyeing her hard. Quickly, I brought her back down, and had focused her on me. She calmed down quite a bit, but still had spook-potential. "Now release the knot," the BM said.
Cerra spooked at the knot before, and so when I began to pull it, it was **** slow. Talking to her, reassuring her, keeping us both calm, and then I finished the knot with a "What are you waiting for? RELEASE HER!" in my ears. IMO, this was the difference between her rearing and not. (It's common sense not to startle a spooky horse... and I could FEEL her uneasiness).
Outside of the barn, she levelled out again, and seemed content to be around me. The BM continued to talk, and I interrupted her, saying that I would like to start walking Cerra (while talking) instead of standing while talking. Upon returning her to the paddock (which she did with confidence), I came back to find the BM had abruptly departed, extremely sour over the exchange.
I, myself, do NOT encourage pawing. It is not acceptable. Also, I think a crop is necessary (without excess), to reinforce "I'm the boss". It doesn't have to hurt, but a light snap won't do much. (And I should not have allowed her to paw at word of the BM. Horses do not see gray areas, they see "black/white", "right/wrong" -- so I may have set myself back. Do I talk to the BM about 'I'll come to you when I'd like your advice?')
Opinion on pawing/crop use? I'd like to know your thoughts.
(Sorry. The human interaction set me right off.)