I got my first horse 10 days ago. All I know for sure about him is that he is a gelding, and I've named him Wildfire.
The man I got him from was his trainer. He told me that Wildfire was an Appaloosa and that he was between 7-8 years old. I rode Wildfire on about 5 different occasions before buying him, and he was really well-mannered. There were some things about his trainer that I thought were odd, but I didn't question them because I assumed that since he was a trainer and I wasn't, that he knew what he was doing. For instance, he had his horses turned out on the field for a couple months or so, and then he would bring them in and ride them and when he wasn't riding them he would literally leave them tied to the round pen for several days with about 18 inches of slack in the rope. They had access to hay and some feed, but they had to stand in the mud and in the hot sun for hours to days on end. Also, he was very harsh with the horses and demanded they do things, rather than asking them to do things. He rode all of his horses in a Tom Thumb, and there were just many other unecessary things, all done in the name of "training".
So once I bought Wildfire I moved him to a boarding facility and I've been having a rough time with some things. He's VERY wary of affection, and for the first few days he would flinch and move away if I tried to pet him or give him kisses. I've been really working with him on that, because I could tell right away that he's not being mean, he's just scared and doesn't know that kisses and pets are GOOD things, so I've been stroking him and then giving him grain so that he learns to associate touch with something that he already knows is good--grain. 10 days later he lets me pet him and kiss him and give him big hugs, with only the slightest bit of resistance. Also when I go to "put him to bed" at night (which is just me letting him back on the pasture, but it's usually dark when I do that so I just say that he's going to bed), he follows me around on the other side of the fence when I'm putting away his things because he knows that I'm a sucker for his begging blue eyes and I always manage to sneak some extra hay to him.
I had a trainer come out to help me with some of our issues (riding and groundwork) and she said she could tell right away that he is fearful and has been abused. But she also said that it's obvious that I'm doing a good job with him and that he's starting to trust me. It was really nice because at one point something spooked Wildfire and he came up beside me and put his head on my shoulder as if he knew I would protect him. Now THIS trainer I was really impressed with. She got Wildfire to do what she wanted without hurting him or making him do it out of fear. So I'm definitely going to have her keep coming back.
She also told me that he looks like he's more towards 9 or 10.
Hearing these things only makes me love him more. I struggle with anxiety and am generally a very fearful person. And it's very theraputic for me to be able to kind of know how Wildfire is feeling, because we're both on the same page. We both have been hurt and we both need to learn to trust each other.
Anyways, sorry for the long ramble, I just wanted to give you his backround.
Do you have any advice or tips on working with a horse like this? He's very special to me and I love him, and I just want him to know that I'm on his side.