Training a horse that has been abused..
I've had my girl Flame for little over a month now. She came to me with little planning ahead, and little thought involved. Her old owner was going to send her to slaughter for her being a "bad bad horse". He created the "bad" horse though. She was untouched up until 10 years old, and only had a little halter training at 2. He brought her home, intending to train her "naturally" (not even) and have a grand ole horse. Well, here is where he started problems:
1. If she would just step sideways or backwards while she was supposed to be standing perfectly still, she would get hit. Either smacked in the head or what I'm assuming, punched in the neck.
2. She was scared of him, so she resisted being catch. He took a pitchfork and would chase her in her small run, and corner her in the run in to halter her. From how she acts by her hind, I'll assuming she was poked numerous times.
3. He rushed her training. One day he grabbed her out, smacked on ground driving tack and pushed her to go. She panicked at the bit, and threw herself to the ground.
Since then, I have started ground work to get her to respect my space, and listen to basic commands (walk, trot, reverse, back, pivots, etc). I have saddled her, and ridden her in a halter. I'm taking it slowly on the bit. I will not ride her with a bridle until she is giving to sidereins while lunging. So far, her nose is stuck in the air fighting it, which is typical whenever I start horse in the side reins.
Now here's my problem. I was riding bareback the other day, and she started bucking. Whenever I would ask for a trot, or stop, she would but her head down and try to buck. I'm thinking that she is in pain because her topline is so weak. (i only thought this after I got off and thought about it) But regardless, I do not allow a horse to buck, especially since I'm training her to be kid safe. When she decided to buck on this specific ride, and not quit when I told her whoa, I smacked her neck while shouting quit. She stopped bucking, but she threw her head up and rushed forward. I seen the fear in her eyes.
On this forum, I've seen that you aren't supposed to treat abused horses any differently than normal horses, but should I have smacked her? I don't want to do nothing and let her get away with her bad behaviors, but I don't want her to live in fear when I ride her.
Any advice? Where to go next with her?