I'm working with a great little mare, Haflinger x Arab, 14.1hh, coming 9 years old, belongs to a friend of mine but if things continue to go well with us I'm going to be buying her within the next few months. It's a really exciting project for me! I had a similar snotty pony that I totally turned around a few years back but after I sold him I got a horse who just wasn't good for me and have been horseless ever since celling him.
To start, she had a good foundation but hasn't been in the right hands in awhile...she's extremely rusty. She has a kind soul, but she can be very, very sassy...likes to kick, snap, paw, whip her butt around unexpectedly during grooming and nearly knock you over, etc. I haven't ridden her yet (due to very poor weather which is finally clearing up now!) or seen her ridden yet. My friend hasn't had her all that long and knew pretty quickly that they weren't the right match, so she hasn't ridden her more than once or twice. She did, however, send her to the same trainer who started her and had her worked with for about a month. She rode her after the trainer had worked with her and it seems that she was kind of difficult, testy, and crowhopped quite a bit at the canter. I know that there is a good horse underneath, though, because she has previously done quite a bit of trail riding and such and supposedly did quite well.
I have been working with the Merr for about a month and a half, admiring her from afar for probably what's nearing a year by now, and I must say I have a really good feeling about this. I tend to be one who just wants to have one good horse to really solidly bond with and do a lot of widely varying things with them, and I have a strong feeling in my but that she's going to be the one I've been looking for. I have a big soft spot for sassy snotty sour horses pretty much everyone else gives up on, and the fact that this mare is such a sweetheart on the inside really gets me. You can tell she has a lot of spirit and heart, it just needs to be productively placed.
So far I've already made a lot of progress with her...honestly she has obviously been very confused and frightened by the way people had been handling her (in a very harsh, unforgiving way) and seems to have sort of switched over to her own little world to escape that. Because of that, she sometimes comes across as being nasty and impossible to get through to...and sometimes she gets much worse before she gets better. I can absolutely see her getting better, though.
The first time I ever approached her on my own, she was stalled at my stable. I walked up to her, she cautiously checked me out for treats, then pinned her ears, turned her butt, and stormed off. The first time I ever lunged her, she ran like a mad woman, bucking and tossing her head wildly, not listening to a thing I asked. Within the first handful of times I groomed her, she paced back and forth, swung her body with significant force towards me, completely disregarding my presence, swung between giving me a sweet face and snapping nastily at me, kicked out at me, refused to move when I pushed her, etc.
Now, already when I approach her she greets me with a happy expression, ears pricked forward, with an occasional whinny in my direction. When I lunge her she is more on the lazy side than reactive side, but tries to do as I ask for the most part. When I groom her, for the most part she stands stone still, even when I brush her legs (which are very sensitive), holds a pleasant expression, and rarely offers to nip at me. She is normally extremely independent, but the other day I hung out with her in her pasture for quite awhile and she chose standing with me far above standing alone or with the other horses.
It has taken a lot of work to get even to this point and there will be much more work on all of these things and more in the future, but now that she better trusts and understands me she is very willing and happy to work with me which is just thrilling. I can already see her becoming an awesome, enjoyable partner for me and I'm excited to see it unfold.
But again, I still haven't gotten to ride her yet. I doubt if there will be any big issue for me, though, because from what I hear about her I feel pretty sure that I've worked with worse and gotten far. I just can't wait to get in the saddle! At the moment I'm out of town, but the weather is staying nice so when I go back I should hopefully finally get the chance! I'm very excited.
Anyway, sorry so long, I just wanted to make sure everything was caught up so I can continue to update from where we are right now!