Join Date: May 2011
Location: Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Respect is a big thing in the horse world. Right now, your mare does not see you as the dominant 'lead mare' and to be completely honest, she doesn't seem to really trust your judgment too much. By turning toward you when you ask her to move away, she's telling you that she doesn't agree with your decision. By babying her through it, you're reinforcing the idea that you don't trust your own judgment. To her, that's a loud and clear signal that she needs to step up and be the leader because you're not.
If this was my horse, I'd take her to the round pen and just send her around in circles. As long as she's moving away from me in the direction I send her, I don't care how fast she goes (as long as it's faster than a lazy jog) or how big the circles are. Stay out of kicking range and keep sending her in circles. I'd keep her going until she begins to show signs of submission - drooped ears, licking lips, chewing, bowed neck. I'd keep her going until she focuses an ear on me and continues the signs of submission. At that point, I'd take the pressure off and turn my body 45 degrees from her. If she comes up to you and puts her muzzle by your shoulder, she is accepting that you are the leader and offering you the dominant status. Walk away from her. If she follows, that's it. If she wanders away, push her out and make her work again. Eventually, she will follow you all over the pen, stop when you stop and turn when you stop. That's when you can really begin fixing your relationship and working as a team.
Smacking her will not hurt her feelings, I promise. In a herd environment, horses routinely lay their ears back, nip and kick. When you smack her, she equates it to a quick nip or kick and thinks, "hey... I guess that wasn't an appropriate thing to do!" You don't have to flog her with the whip or beat her, but a quick smack on the rump or shoulder will work wonders. She might look at you like you're the worst thing on the face of the earth, but rest assured that she's just playing you to see what she can get away with.
I like to take every horse I work with to the round pen and give them a quick session. It makes training so much easier when they respect you as the leader and understand that you are the alpha. Having a steady leader makes a horse feel safe. If they recognize you as the leader, they will be calmer and more willing to work with you because they feel confident that you will keep them safe.