Cheyenne (Formerly "Cookie"/"Oreo" - new home, new life, new name.) was adopted from a rescue group called Four Forks about 2 years and two owners back and hadn't really been messed with since. I purchased her for $125 from an elderly couple on SSI that didn't have the physical or financial capabilities to take properly care for a horse. She was sold to me as "green broke" but I wouldn't consider her trained at all; I backed her once to see where she was and although she didn't buck she also didn't have any steering... or brakes... or a gas pedal. I've since been focusing on groundwork to get her up to speed before attempting another ride. In the past ten days I have:
Taught her how to lunge. Queue lots of nervous trotting and LOTS of her trying to stay facing me at all times. I suspect that she may have been EXCESSIVELY trained to never turn her haunches towards a human. This is her fallback posture when she's nervous and unsure of what to do. Not turning her butt to me is all well and good, but it's pretty much impossible to lunge a horse that won't let you get behind her drive line. It took two sessions to get her comfortable with me standing next to and behind her (at a safe distance) and another four to get her reliably lunging at a walk, trot, changing directions, turning in to face me ON QUEUE ONLY and stopping on queue.
Today I decided to give ground driving a try, since I'd never done it before and it seemed like a safe way to teach her steering and forward momentum. It took about 45 minutes for her to get the idea. When she's nervous and unsure of what she's supposed to be doing she has a habit of trying to whip around and face me - a habit that needs to go. She also has some forward momentum issues that we're working on resolving. We spent three hours walking around the property and up and down the road, practicing turning, stopping, zig zags, etc. Just generally getting the idea of moving FORWARD while being given queues from the reins. She responded extremely well to being ground driven and seemed to really relax while being trained for the first time since I got her.
I'm thinking another two or three weeks of daily lunging and/or ground driving and she will be ready to try backing again. There have been lots of other little handling issues that I am continuing to work on, mainly involving sacking her out since she's extremely spooky. She also needs some work on picking up her feet - she will pick them up without fussing and I've already trimmed them once, but she's tried to lean on me a couple of times and I just generally feel like she needs refinement in this area. Despite her lack of training and general nervousness, Cheyenne is a really nice horse. She leads perfectly and is good natured and eager to please. I think that once I've laid the groundwork of trust and respect she'll shape up into a good little riding horse.
This is my second time training a horse, and my first time starting from the ground up. Feel free to comment on anything I may be doing wrong or otherwise give me your input. I'm really excited to get more hands-on training experience. I will update this thread with our progress as well as any questions that I might have along the way.