Progress being made...I think
So I have another update re: OTTB that was trying to break a record for number of problem behaviors...
I have been working with her consistently for the past few weeks- since the original post. First she learned how to tie, that was the hardest part. Then hobbles, which she did fine with. The syringe training is ongoing- much better so far, the challenge has been doing it on both sides because she will learn it on one side and then that experience just falls out of her brain magically when you go to give her a syringe on the other side. But she is getting better.
She is still getting really excited when I go to get her in the pasture- she would willingly follow me around away from her friends even though that means she is going to need to work and do things that push her limits. I am taking this as a good sign.
Under saddle, her major problem was standing still. Being off the track, she would like to get going the second you swing your leg over, or she would prance about excitedly, spin and just generally be badly behaved. If you asked her to stand a little to firmly, she would rear. So we had sessions of just getting on and off, if she was bad, things would be unpleasant for a while. If she did good, I get back off and she gets a crunchy. Seems to be working so far- we have gotten down to trying to walk away once, then thinking better of it once she realizes it's not fun, and then she actually stands. It's like a miracle. She also has been standing nicely in the middle of working, on a trail ride, and when I am trying to open gates while on her. Progress made!
Otherwise she has stopped giving me trouble under saddle- she hated the ball, now she plays soccer. There is a ramp and she would rear if her owner tried to take her towards it, now she goes and stands on it like a good girl. Key: never show her a second of hesitation. She has beautiful movement and collects beautifully in all three gaits. Her laterals are solid. The key is that she never wanted to do them so she didn't, and got away with it.
We are going on consistent trail rides, and she's been great. Usually she will prance for 10 seconds and then settle to be the calmest trail horse at walk/trot/canter. No spooking. I usually take her towards the herd and then away from it, and she does it nicely. She hasn't done solo trail rides though because she did used to rear quite high and I don't want to be left in a field to die. However, this is on the agenda for next week- a short jog out with somebody watching from a distance and we'll see how it goes.
Anyway, now comes the disheartening part. Speaking to the owner, I have emphasized once and again that the key for this mare would be regular work, and leadership. For years she would get away with pretending to be afraid of everything: wide eyes, huffing, puffing, and bam! people give up. Except I think now it's just a reaction more than actual fear. I made sure to emphasize that work and consistency together with a confident leader would make this horse into a WONDERFUL athlete or pleasure horse, either way. Like I said she is super athletic and moves nicely, and she has been great on the trails, downright brave.
Well I learned today her owner is going to sell her. According to the owner, there is no point in owning a horse you have to fight every step of the way, and all that she wanted is a quiet pleasure horse. I'm a little disheartened. And even though she is doing well now, I am afraid if she falls into the wrong hands no good can come of it- she will injure herself, her new owner or worse :(