In December 2009, I bought Shannon from a friend. I was in love with her, and everyone agreed: we were (and still are!) perfect for each other. When I got Shannon, she had a lot of groundwork respect issues. She had taken on a negative of riding, groundwork, pretty much everything that involved a human because she didn't have any good experiences with them. Her main problems:
1.) Groundwork issues - not responding to cues/lack of respect
2.) Moving away from the mounting block when you tried getting on
3.) Cinchy, really bad.
4.) A little firecracker when you rode her. She felt like she wanted to explode with basically any pressure to her sides, especially.
5.) Stopping and not moving. Bulking.
What I proposed about these problems:
1.) Her lack of respect was because she wasn't being respected herself. She used to be whipped/yelled at if she did something wrong.
2.) She hates being ridden. Every time she's brought up to a mounting block, she dreads the ride ahead and will do what she can to avoid it.
3.) I think lack of proper training was the main cause to this.
4.) She was confused. With many different trainers that rode her, she wasn't sure what her rider wanted of her. She's had riders on her back who are trail plodders, others who think horses should GO GO GO, and some who are competition riders - you get the idea. Because of inconsistent training, Shannon wasn't sure what to think anymore.
5.) I could hear her: "I probably won't do the riding correctly, so I am going to stop. I can't do anything wrong if I'm standing still, right?"
Of course, Shannon is *not* a poor, misunderstood horse who is totally innocent. She has attitude, that's for sure, but I have found through time she only gives attitude to those who are not, in her mind, alpha. She tests everyone. And if she's in heat... well she'll give out attitude to anyone who comes within three feet of her. Fast forward December 2009 to January 2011. (It's true I did some work with her during this time, but it was few and far between. We went through a major move so it took awhile to adjust. Plus, I was scared to train her out of fear of failure since my confidence was basically at 0 at the time)
Before January 2011: I mainly worked on small things, like cinching up or doing mild groundwork. I spent a lot of time just getting to know her at this point.
January 2011: I really started working with her again. I rode her a lot and mainly tried to find what would work for our training. Tried out different bits, riding techniques, etc. I did of lot work with her sensitive chest area. She hated pressure on her side. She figured it meant go faster, and for awhile she freaked out when my legs just touched her side. During this time, I was getting her used to riding in general. We also went on a couple fun rides.
Progress: At the end of the January 2011, Shannon was less sensitive to my legs touching her sides. I got to the point I could lay them against her without her assuming it was time to bolt. She also did a lot better with not throwing her head. I also worked on her cinchiness. She was still uncomfortable with the girth and would throw her head while pinning her ears, but it was not as dramatic as it was before.
February 2011: This was the time I talked to my 'trainer' more. I continued what I had done in January and got to the point where Shannon was comfortable with my legs laying against her side. She was much calmer when I rode her. I took lessons for the first time on her and the first lesson went, well, bad. My instructor thought putting a harsher western bit in her mouth would be best for her. I didn't 100% agree, but thought I would go along with it to try it. She did bad because she isn't ready to ride with a loose rein yet and these reins have to stay loose. She is fine with a loose rein until you make her do something, then she freaks out and tries to run. I talked to him about switching back to her kimberwick that she loves and he agreed that I could try riding with her in contact for awhile.
Progress: Shannon improved because she was getting used to riding more. She was more comfortable with riding overall, especially in take cues from me. Still sensitive to some degree. Doing better on cinchiness!
March 1st-7th 2011: The longer I work Shannon in contact with the kimberwick, the happier I get! I put a close contact saddle on her and at first she was a little nervous about it since so much leg was being put on her, but today she was much more relaxed. She took my cues like a pro and even my trainer came along and said how calm she looked. We stayed at a walk and did some basic dressage work and she did so well. I am much softer in my hands after learning to use my seat and legs to turn her instead of my hands. I'm happy with that! I have been improving my seat as well. We had the best ride today we've had in awhile. Also, today (the 7th) I did groundwork with her and was pretty happy with it. I could tell she was showing a lot of respect to me even though she got confused with the canter cue. She kept trying to come into me. She stayed out of my way - I could tell she was ready to work for me today.
Progress: Just in the past couple days, we have made a lot of progress. She was calmer today than she has been in a long time. She was lighter on the reins as well. Not to mention... when I tightened the girth all I got was a 'look.' She was calm about it and took it very well.
Will continue to update this as our training goes on. Thank you for reading, I know it wasn't a short read to say the least. (Hopefully it made sense... it's 2:30 AM here and I'm very tired)