Very nervous gelding, Can't seem to reach him
Hey everyone. I am working with an elderly Rocky Mountain gelding. His main issue is that he is very nervous while riding him but I'm going to give you a bit of a background on him first. He's an older horse and has had previous owners besides his current one and she believes that he might of been abused; I agree with her on that one. It seems like all he was ever taught to do is "go". When he is in the herd of the owner's other horses, he is always in the outcast group and gets bullied around. He's taken in at night and given extra hay and grain to make sure he's getting enough to eat.
As far as riding goes, he can be difficult to catch but in the end he will always let you catch him even if it takes a minute or two. Grooming, saddling and bridling up he is great, calm as ever. As soon as you settle into the saddle, though, he takes on a different role. He becomes very nervous and starts pacing almost immediately. He used to pace all the way into the arena and in there as well. It has taken me about 4-5 weeks of just making sure he is doing a four-beated walk. All in all, we've been doing a lot of walking and calming him down. He has gotten way better than before but I still feel like something isn't right.
For being a horse that is beaten up all the time by the herd, he is the most barn/pasture sour horse I've ever met. As soon as we turn in the direction of the barn he starts pacing. So I calmly take up on the reins and ask him to walk. He'll listen for a few steps and then pace again. He used to always have to be on a somewhat tight rein but I have been able to ride him on a loose rein now, which is great because it tells me I'm making progress. Even though we've made progress, I still feel like he doesn't completely trust me...as a rider.
My question/s is what else can I do to help him put trust in humans again? I've tried recently joining up with him in the round pen. He'll keep his inside ear on me but show's no other signs of relaxing or when stopped, wanting to come to the middle with me.
Sorry this is so long, but I really want to help this guy out. He's just so nervous and wary. :)
Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work. ~Thomas Edison