Firstly, agree with all of above. 'Training' is fluid, as it is with us or any animal. Very basically, if the horse was well trained a year ago, she won't forget those lessons... but she can learn others, inadvertently, perhaps contradictory, through lack of consistency, bad timing, whatever. Also if she wasn't very well trained back then - as in she learned all that, but hadn't done enough to be truly solid, then she still needs consistency & many experiences to get her solid.
I even trimmed our trees from her back when we'd had her for a month or so
I think you're right that's not a safe thing to do - sharp tool in hand, branches that may fall ON her or hit her...
It is fantastic if she is truly confident with stuff like that, but do also consider the way in which she may have been previously trained - ie. 'sacking out' & other training is often done in a way that causes a horse to be forced into something that it's not ready for & to 'shut down' mentally, so appear calm when it may not be the case. She may have still been a bit 'broken' in spirit & so extra 'calm' for a while in her new environment/people, which could explain the change.
but when I tried to trim our trees this year, she danced around and was difficult.
There's the other thing about that - what have you done in the meantime? Have there been lots of non-confrontational experiences of 'scary' stuff you've proven safe to her, or has she not had to face anything like that for the last year?
She has not been ridden off of our property for the last year however. Shes for my young daughter to ride and I'm just not comfortable allowing her to ride off property just yet
Certainly understand your feelings, but agree with others that if you want her to be good when out & about, you need to get her out & about. As much as possible. How old is your daughter & what sort of skill level(I'm guessing young beginner)? I certainly wouldn't take her out with your daughter riding solo to begin with unless your daughter's already a good rider, but if she's already been out in hand or ponied quite a bit & has been fine(if not, do that first - lots), and she's good for your daughter to ride at home, then I'd probably take her out on lead, in hand or ponied, if you have a well trained horse to lead from.
Hes been our farrier for years and her reaction was on first sight of him rather then from how he works with her.
I would guess from previous experience of Men With Tools... but don't underestimate how intuitive horses can be to what people are really like.
is this horse likely to make a decent horse for a child? Most importantly, what do I need to do to get this horse back to where she was about scary things?
Is the horse a good kids horse? Well, I think it's easier to tell by forums when the horse is NOT, but we can't really tell you that from what we've got here. With LOTS of good, calm, confidence building training(for daughter as well), most horses can become quite solid & confident enough for a beginner to be *reasonably* safe on, but of course it depends on yours & your daughter's handling too. So be particular about how good your daughter gets too, don't just focus on the horse, & don't be shy to look for a good instructor or such too(I do find personally that motherly emotions get in the way of teaching kids
). But especially if you're not sure of yourself & you want her to be kid-safe, then I'd definitely want hands-on help, not just from a forum.
I would absolutely teach both the horse & your daughter to be very solid(automatic) about 'one rein stops' - that is, bending the horse to control her. I think it's absolutely vital to *teach* the horse calmly & gradually to do this, rather than try to force it to(not least because a grownup can have enough trouble forcing a panicking horse, let alone a child). The aim is for it to be a 'calming signal' as well as for control - so shouldn't be associated with fear or force, at least until it's very solid - and practiced often enough at different speeds & environments, that the response becomes automatic, unthinking, to both rider & horse. Calming for rider too, because the mindset is 'relax, exhale, stop'. Then, if/when needed in 'a situation', you or your daughter will have a good chance of picking up one rein & quickly & calmly getting control of the horse & calming her down.
Just have to say, very proud of the first time we've had to put this to the test with my own daughter/pony - they've had LOTS of practice doing it as a training exercise, pony is pretty calm & has been there done that, but this weekend we had our first 2 big scares, in one ride. One was a Harley roaring down on us, the other a pack of 3 dogs galloping at us up a road, as the owner drove beside them. First experience my daughter had him bent & controlled before he panicked, so it was scary for them both but came to nothing. The second came on us around a corner, by surprise & the pony had spun & started to bolt before my daughter even realised, but within about 10 metres, she had him turned around & standing with his nose bent round, while the dogs sped past. ...She did choose to get off after that tho, with wobbly legs!
I think its something I could successfully do as it doesn't sound a lot different from working with autistic children to overcome hypersensitivities and fear, and I'm successful in that. Is it about the same
How interesting! I imagine it'd be the same, because you would want to work with autistic kids in a non-confrontational way about it. But I'm not sure what techniques you use. Essentially, be it with kids or horses, autistic or otherwise, I would work on the premise of introducing them to something 'scary' in very small doses, at an intensity they can handle - ie. push their comfort zone but not by much. Approach & retreat & with repetition, the... beast will become comfortable with that stimulus & you can go a bit further, to gradually 'stretch' that comfort zone.
As with kids, *well timed* positive reinforcement can get you far, both with desensitising & other training.
If you haven't heard of her, you may be very interested in a behaviourist called Temple Grandin who is also autistic. Her studies & insights are fascinating. She has a number of books, but there are a number of online articles by her around the traps too.