I was just wondering if anyone would be able to help with this. I'm looking after a friends mare while she is on holiday and am working on getting over her fear of her bridle and her fly mask and also picking up her back feet. We don't know her history but we think she may have been beaten as she has quite a few bad scars and reacts quite badly to the things she is frightened of, for example, she has to be sedated when the farrier comes and she has tried to rear up when you put the bridle on her and though you can usually get it on eventually she has started to get dangerous when you handle her.
I have been working with her for a while using join up and she was accepting the bridle and seemed like a different horse as she seemed to relax and has been friendly when you go to get her in the field and seems to want to come in now. However, the mare is being used for a friend's riding lesson once a week while the mare's owner is away. Unfortunately i couldn't be there but I trusted this friend to do as I had been doing but someone on the yard has labelled the mare as bad mannered and took over which unsettled the mare and this lady shouted and smacked her with a stick and now she has her fearful look back in her eyes and i can't get near her with a bridle without her threatening to rear or bolt. I was hoping that someone might be able to give me some advice or an internet resource or something that might help with this.
Thanks in advance.
People can be so stupid at times. Poor horse. Obviously whatever you did last time worked, so start there again. I would consider talking to your friend about what has happened and make it clear that her issues will never go away unless she has PROPER handling and that no yahoos are going around smacking her horse.
It's very frustrating! I tried joining up with her again today and starting as I had done before but its like we've gone several steps back. I am thinking that I should try to earn her trust before I bring the bridle back into the equation again. I do intend to have a word with the owner when she gets back. The person who had a lesson on her is a friend of mine and was trying to do everything as i had been doing, but unfortunately as he is quite young the lady that interfered clearly thought he couldn't handle the mare because of his age. I think its sad that he knew better than someone who should have been far more experienced.
Is the mare's owner aware she was being used as a lesson horse?
I would spend some undemanding time with her. Take her out to graze and try to find some really good itchy spots. That will help her gain trust in you.
Yes, the mare's owner was aware of this as it is a mutual friend of ours who was riding the horse in the lesson and the owner had in fact paid for the lesson. What we did not expect was someone to take over the tacking up and frighten the mare again!
Thanks for the advice Spirithorse. I will try that with her. She is still letting me touch her ears and around her face which she was not doing when i started so at least we have not gone all the way back to the beginning.
One of the first things I would do is to remove the mare from that barn. Once it is at another stable, I would start all over. What you are doing is fine but if anyone can access her and abuse her then it's going to get harder and harder to get her through it.
It doesnt even sound like she is safe to use for lessons.
Her problem is on the ground. Once you have the bridle on her then she is nothing but perfect when you are on her back. It is sad that she has this fear of having her bridle put on as she is very enthusiastic to jump and would make a fab little jumping pony! I do however, agree, that she is not safe for people to tack up and this problem needs to be sorted. She is not used in lessons on a regular basis, however, and this was one of a very few lessons that she has been used in.
I think that one person alone, needs to be working with this horse, so that she is getting the consistancy that she needs. Inconsistancy is the WORST thing for her right now, especially because of the fact that she could kill someone with a bad habit like bridling issues (all it takes is one swing of the head, and it's lights out for someone).
I would continue with the join up, teach her how to lower her head, and desensitize her to you touching her face, ears, muzzle, etc, and once she knows how to lower her head and is okay with you touching her head all over, then start reintroducing the bridle, as if she's never had it on before.
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