So my boarder gave me their unbroke 6 year old gelding. He's a nice horse, he really is, I've never had trouble with him. He's curious, responds well and is a quick learner.
I've tested his ground manners and for a boy who hasn't been handled in 3 years, he remembered things very quickly.
BUT he does have ONE issue that bugs me, he's head shy. Does not want someone to touch his face. Putting a halter on him has been a pain in my bum to say the least. Once you get it on he's 100% fine with it, unless you try to touch his face. Then he will back up, pin his ears back and if you keep you hand on his nose he will rear up. Which I think I have corrected as he was reprimanded for rearing. Hasn't done that since, but he still pins his ears back and backs up. Which he has gotten worse with the face touching since he was kicked in his eye, which needs to be cleaned daily but what should be a quick five to ten minute thing takes me fifthteen to twenty minutes.
I'll tell you how I go about dealing with this. When he lets me touch his face, he gets rewarded. Usually (which is his favorite thing) he gets to play with his jolly ball for a few minutes. If he won't let me touch his face I scold him. Usually a harsh No and a good firm tap. Then repeating till he'll let me leave my hand there for a few moments, with praise of a toy, or a scolding for not letting me.
By the time I am finished (usually I spend 10-15 minutes doing this or until I feel we've accomplished better than the day before) Then usually I can get him a rub on his nose or even the top of his head.
Well that's how the day ends, when arrive the next day I literally have to start all over.
So Sunday I inquired why he didn't like having his face or head touched. Apparently when he was still a stud, my boarder's father in law would punch him in the face, whether he pinned his ears back, or just wouldn't move. But it started from a very early age until he was gelded at age 3 when he just learned I need to stay out of way. So I now know that he's probably head shy from abuse and has learned someone touching my face is a bad thing.
I need help, some better advice than what I have. I've been doing what i did with my TB mare when I bought her back in March with her it worked wonders, except her praise was either a piece of carrot or an ear rub. Both are her favorite types of praise. With him, its like it works, then the next day its like I never even tried.
I can do virtually anything else with him, ive even put a saddle on him and tighten a girth and all he did was bend his neck around sniff like "Oh watcha up to back there?"
I've even done two sheath cleanings (he'd never had it done before) an he was more curious about the garden hose
His face issue is frustrating but I've learned to hold off my frustrations till I'm not in direct contact because I know that he would sense it and respond to that.
So? Can anyone help me?
He's a Cowboy Casper colt, he is lean and I've been putting weight on him for some winter training. But he's 16 hands and 800 pounds despite the lankiness he has.
The photos below are slightly old specially the ones of grass, the second image is him in the summer and he's doing that face shying thing.