I have a horse that I am to train as a part of my class; the class is geared towards taking a young horse and teaching him proper ground manners, to accept a rider, and to be able to do a small course at the end of the semester for a final grade. Problem is everyone else has gotten 2-3 year olds that are just green and when mine came in the owner informed us that he is in fact 6 years old, they found him running down the road, and that the previous owners just gave him to them and he’s just been sitting at their place now for over a year. They informed me that they believe he was abused previously as he acts deathly afraid of halters and lead ropes.
I’ve been working with him and the problem is, I can’t decide if he’s actually afraid of the halter/lead or if he’s really just being unruly and a brat because he doesn’t want to work. I have yet to get a halter on him but he will let me go in without one and rub all over on him and stand. As soon as a halter or lead is brought into the equation though he will either take off to the other side of the stall or present his ass. This leads me to believe he’s not exactly as scared as everyone thinks he is and is more so a brat because he knows he can. It’s not like I’m coming at him with the halter swinging and attempting to throw it on his face either, I more or less rub on him and then attempt to rub the object either on his shoulder or neck to show him it isn’t going to kill him or cause him any harm. He will even smell it freely but just won’t let anyone touch him with it. Presuming he was indeed just afraid of it I strung a lead rope all over his feeder so he would have to touch it and be near it and have it dangling in front of him and brushing against him while he ate, this again he did flawlessly but will not let me even get remotely near him (even when the lead draped over my shoulders and not trying to touch him)
So my problem is I don’t think he’s afraid, I think he’s being a brat, he’s in a rather large stall by himself and I need to at least get him haltered to be able to start anything and I am truly to the point where I’ve taken up reading and researching and still have yet to find something that can help me and am looking for any suggestions. He’s nowhere near my first horse and I usually enjoy a challenge and in fact my two that I own now were deemed “problem” horses when I got them but have since blossomed into amazing horses with training, time and patience. But I’ve never really had to deal with this specific issue and it seems like all my reading is turning up the same strategies I’ve already been trying ie. Sit with the horse show it you’re not a threat, approach and walk away and repeat, crouch down and let him come to you, rub him all over, patience, the list goes on…
So my question is, does this sound like fear to you or simple unruliness? To me it sounds like the second. And has anyone else had this issue and maybe some other methods, tips, or tricks that I could try. Also please note, I realize halter breaking is always scary ect, however, this horse is halter broke and when they brought him in, he trailered, loaded, and un loaded just fine, lead fine, ect. Just the owner threw him in the stall and took the halter off and then proceeded to tell us all his issues and since he’s been more than a handful.
Also please be respectful and not rude with your replies, and any and all suggestions or insights would be greatly appreciated. And I forgot to add in my above post a little more about the horse, if it interests anyone to know, he's a 6 year old gelding, some sort of paint/draft cross.