I am running into some minor issues with gaining her trust. She is so very timid. I am used to my bossy gelding who has never been afraid of me. I'm being patient and consistent and definitely not coddling her or tiptoeing around her, but I'm having to dial down my corrections to about 10% of the intensity that my gelding requires. Where he might require a full strength open palm swat when he's being a brat, anything harsher then a light tap that wouldn't even sting my skin plus a firm verbal correction has her trembling. They still get corrected for the same misbehavior with the same level of escalation (ask, tell, demand) but her "demand" is much much milder then his. I have only had to demand twice, both when I knew she knew what was expected of her. When grooming or just hanging out tied or at liberty she is usually very tense with tight mouth worried eyes and an ear on me at all times.
She flinches when I touch her while catching her... I am still having to walk her down to catch her and I gently touch her withers before grabbing her halter. She was only caught with food before and had to be snatched by a long rope attached to her halter. I am having none of that nonsense and catch her properly no matter how long it takes. I have been spending time with her at liberty as well just scratching her and rubbing her around the withers and trying to find "the spot". No luck with that so far, but she's been brave enough to turn her head to sniff me a few times so there is that.
She does not like eating her hard feed in front of me... not a big deal since she's fat and really does not need hard feed, but I would like to be able to feed her and my other horse at the same time. He will steal her food after he is done with his unless they are separated. Being able to give her a little handful of feed in her bucket would be a nice incentive to teaching her to enjoy my company if I could get it to work!
I am not above the occasional act of petty bribery, but she won't take treats from my hand. It sure would be nice if I could give her the occasional treat after being caught, or for no reason whatsoever! Today I bought a bag of jelly beans and stuffed a few in her mouth and after spitting the first few out she did eat one or two this way. I had to teach my other horse to like treats also, because he had never been given any (now he is a horrible mugger and gets them rarely if at all).
She does very well at ground driving, but she is very nervous when lunged. I am starting to feel that lunging her may be counterproductive because although she does listen to commands, is very obedient and has learned quite a bit, it is clearly a frightening experience for her. How can I make lunging less scary? Just keep at it until she knows I'm not going to beat her to death with the lunge whip? Should I discontinue lunging until she is more comfortable? She's learned the basic commands that I intended to teach her, but I still feel like she would benefit from more practice.
Ground driving she is progressing well with. She is much more comfortable with ground driving then she is with lunging, and we have had several happy walks together. Sometimes when we've been at it for a while and she has relaxed I can catch a glimpse of the nice horse that she is underneath all the fear. She is very responsive to the rein and vocal queues I use and as in all things only needs a very light hand. She is very eager to please!
Here is a nice picture of her relaxing while we rested in the shade about 1/2 mile away from the pasture. It was very hot today, but I was determined to get some training time in. The scratch on her butt is from backing into the fence during a Grade A hissy fit about leaving her boyfriend behind. I'm actually pleased that she threw a hissy fit, at least she's showing interest in SOMETHING and feeling comfortable enough to attempt to assert herself. Plus it gives me an opportunity to teach her that throwing a hissy fit will get her nowhere with me. Note that we are half a mile away from the pasture. ;)
I did encounter one minor issue while ground driving today that I had a question about. On the way away from the house she went at an appropriate walk speed, but on the way back she was walking faster then I was and the bit was placing constant pressure on her mouth. I was not able to slow her down, but I did start working her in zig zags which worked a bit to relieve the pressure on her face. I like how she handles currently and don't want her to become hard mouthed. Does anyone have any suggestions on how to handle this situation when it arises again?