I'm about to start half leasing a lovely 8 year-old OTTB. King's been at our barn since he left the track, so about three or four years. We call him Special K because he's...well, he's like most OTTBs and is a little unique. :)
After reading a bit on the forum, I get the feeling that he's not the only OTTB who regresses in winter. K is terrified of the barn door in our arena. Every time we ride towards the back end, he's getting ready to spook - most times, you know it's coming, but he has thrown a couple of people badly who weren't prepared when he skipped sideways.
Before I start riding him alone on weekends, I thought I'd spend a couple of sessions doing groundwork. I'm particularly keen on getting him over the barn door; I don't expect him to ever be completely at ease around it, but he either needs to learn to spook in place or to be wary but not crazy stupid as he approaches it. I'd like to lunge him and slowly work our way closer to the barn door, but I'd love your thoughts on the plan.
I haven't lunged in a long time, so I'm thinking we'll start out slow, at a walk and trot, in big circles (half the arena if I'm the only one there--it's a small arena) and slowly reposition closer to the door. I feel like I've heard two lines of thought about what to do at the scary spots: keep moving his feet, or make him rest there until he learns that this is a "good" spot (versus everywhere else, where he's working). What do you guys think?
Any other suggestions about lunging around freaky stuff? If he looks like he's going to spook and bolt in, I thought I could step towards the hindquarters and send him back out - unless you have a better idea. Your tips and thoughts are much appreciated. Hopefully I'll have an instructor there the first time to walk me through anything unexpected, but we'll see!