I've had Amber since July 2012 and I'll give a brief run-down of her issues in a moment. She's a Quarab chestnut paint, 14 hh and just turned 16 yrs. I bought her at public auction and didn't know her history but she looked nicely balanced and quiet in the ring. When she got home, over time I found out:
1. She was hard to catch.
2. She didn't like people much.
3. She didn't like her mouth being touched.
4. She was head-shy.
5. She would occasionally buck, pig-root and regularly shy/spook for no reason I could see.
6. She wouldn't accept worming paste.
The first issue was the most important. I tried all kinds of things to help work her through: sitting in the paddock ignoring her; sending her away; attempting to bribe with feed or treats...nothing worked consistently and I could go for a week at a time being unable to get near her. Today I had the biggest break-through. Amber not only let me approach her in the middle of the paddock, but she lowered her head through her halter to boot! It's the first time she's done that without a fight and I'm so proud. Once caught I brought her home for a wash, and she stood calmly while I completed this including her dock and udder. Afterwards I walked her to dry her off, then took the lead rope off...and she continued to follow me. If I turned, she turned, if I stopped, she stopped. MAGIC! I think we finally have achieved join-up.
She still doesn't like people much - she will not approach strangers at the fence - which I think is a good thing. But under saddle or with me leading her, she allows people to pat her. Most of the time anyway.
She still doesn't like her mouth being touched but she tolerates it now. Sometimes she also takes feed and treats out of my hand...which is huge progress as she always turned her head away in the past.
Amber is no longer head-shy. I can put on a halter or bridle, groom her face, scratch her poll, wipe her eyes, just about anything, as long as I do it slowly and gently.
She's still shying and spooking from time to time. But I think it's mostly because she's a mare. The bucking and pig-rooting got her nowhere so she never does it under saddle any more. She'll run around the paddock and give out a little buck or two but that's just her letting off excess energy and it's great that she's so happy in her skin.
I haven't given up on worming paste but I usually prefer to dose her with pellets. Why stress out a horse which has come so far?
All of this has been achieved by working at her pace, thinking like a horse, using and watching body language, being gentle and patient, and getting help from a really good trainer every couple of months. Even he is amazed at how far she's come - he's also my farrier so he's seen a huge improvement.
Yeah, I'm just a little proud of her. She's doing so darned well.