We have been starting to work with her, and so far, little progress. What happens is she will be all stinky and absolutely crazy for a while, then all the sudden flip a mental switch and become forward and willing to go. Its quite confusing.
So...if she's perfect on the ground...are you then talking about her getting crazy and then she's forward in the saddle only?
The problem with her is that she has almost become immune to a whip.
This is a HUGE red flag. Sounds like she's been whacked with the whip one too many times. Pressure wasn't being used properly.
You ALWAYS want to start with LIGHT pressure. Using your seat, then your legs then raising a whip and tapping the hip and tapping a little harder and a little harder each time....NEVER ever simply cracking the whip on her butt. That's an unfair way to use pressure.
If you squeeze your legs, and then she doesn't go and you crack her on the butt then you're yelling at her with pressure. Not giving her ample time to think her way through what you're asking of her.
She sounds clueless. Sounds like she has been yelled at with pressure and has learned to tune it out and resent it or both.
Set up a pattern with her until she's memorized it and responds correctly.
1. Kiss or cluck
Wait 1-2 seconds then add if needed
2. Squeeze of your legs
Wait 1-2 seconds then add if needed
3. Raise the whip and begin a light tap to a harder tap to a harder tap....gradually making each tap a little harder than the last....it's like you are bouncing the end of the whip off her hip NOT whacking or smacking. Big different. Bouncing the whip off her hip means you are making a big movement with your arm. Your whole arm is like the whip. It goes up and down light then goes up and down a little heavier and up and down a little heavier....all the while you are squeezing and releasing your legs on her sides.
The moment she moves out regardless of speed...stop all pressure. Be sure to have the slack in the reins to encourage forward.
If she stops then go and do the entire pattern of pressure all over again. And she moves out. Reward her effort. She stops, repeat.
Then once she's moving out at the walk every single time you ask with just a rolling of your hip and a squeeze of your leg...then you can shut her down after a ways with a flexing (bending of the neck) and a disengagement of the hip (hip moves over, back feet cross).
Repeat for a whole hour.
Then work up to the next lesson adding a moment of trot. Keep the squeeze of your legs a little longer for the trot,...then once that's as good and as instant as the walk, then ask for the lope.
I think this mare at 14 is sick and tired of being pushed through training at the human's speed. She's got her own speed, and she gets confused and then the human gets frustrated and whacks her with the whip or punishes her otherwise....killing her willingness to respond at all to pressure from a rider.
Build up that willingness by going at her speed, not yours. Get the walk then get the trot then get the lope.
With an unbroke horse you can get to them all faster, but with a horse that's been soured to pressure because of mishandling...you gotta give the horse a reason to listen a reason to want to respond without the stress of kicking out or any other instinctual response that comes into play when the training is lacking.
She'll catch on and she'll be willing. But you have to be willing to stop and listen to her and let her tell you where she is in the training, instead of deciding where you think she should be. Once you take it at her speed...she'll come along a lot faster.
Of course...before anything is done....please be sure there are no physical issues. Unless you know her entire history and know that there's no way she can be hurting...then I'd get a chirppractor or a massage therapist to take a look at her, before starting to work on anything.
And of course, be sure that all tack fits properly and her teeth are just fine. Any of these things can cause problems that seem like training issues. But if they can be checked off as not an issue....then take the lessons one at a time.