Can a horse forget who you are?
My uncle recently gave me a horse he had (Toby) who hasn't been ridden for 5 years. He's a little spooky while I'm on his back, usually nothing that a few pats and some reassuring words can't calm. But it's when I'm off and/or away from him for any period of time when he starts acting like he's never seen me before. When I go to catch him, he usually tenses up and runs to the far side of the pen. One time you can see that he's just being a turkey and making me work, and the next I'm some big scary monster who wants to eat him. Sometimes, he will back himself into a corner, and you can see the debate in him to run away or stand scared. I talk and coo to him the whole time to let him know where I am. I never hide the halter, I don't agree with it and I'm not good at it anyways
If he lets me close, I hold my hand out for him to smell, and 98% of the time, his head drops and he relaxes and puts his own head in the halter, after that he's okay.
We had one incident last weekend, where I was working cattle with family, and had to hop off quickly. I ground tied him beside another horse, and much to my surprise he stood patiently and waited. He could see me the entire time. When we were finished loading, I turned and walked toward him (talking of course). He gave me the "who the heck are you look?" And threw his head up and back away as fast as he could. It wasn't until he let me close enough to sniff, did he relax.
I hope this makes sense, I've rewritten this eight ways from Sunday to try to get it to make sense to someone who can't see it. Is it possible that, since we're new to each other, that I haven't established a clear Leader role?
Bad sight, maybe? Or is he just actually forgetful?