My beautiful mare was cared for very well for many years. I know this because I am friends with the man that used to own her. She is now about 13 years old. I know horses rub up on things and can get scrapes and scars, but my new farrier said something to me that concerned me. He said those who train roping horses are known to be pretty rough on the horses. This wouldn't normally concern me, except my mare is absolutely terrified of any stick or whip I pick up anywhere near her, even though I have never touched her with one. I will never purposely hurt her. This is not the only concern. She also has a very large and deep scar on her face. Below I have attached multiple images. Could this be a sign that my horse was beaten or mistreated in another way? https://drive.google.com/drive/folde...rP?usp=sharing
There are plenty of people who are rough on the horses even when they aren't ropers. Nearly everyone where I live is too rough on their horses and it's just a part of the way they learned to train a horse and behave around them.
I have seen plenty, I work with rehabilitating horses and problem horses. Horses give us clues as to what their past may have been and honestly I've found far more of their past was due to owners who simply didn't know much about horses or weren't trainers than people who abused them.
Horses that are skittish, sometimes it's because they've never been desensitized not to be so. Horses that are rearing and lunging and trying to bite people, have never learned any respect for their handlers or for that particular handler or could very well just be testing their pecking order with their new handler.
Horses with scarring are pretty normal whether raised in a stall or out in a pasture. They are curious by nature and by default learn not to do things the hard way when it comes to getting their legs, tails and mane caught up in stuff.
This is just a generalization.
Your farrier, having gotten around to many of the barns in the area probably knows what he's talking about. You see many things you can't unsee travelling from barn to barn, unfortunately. He may even know your horse from someone who owned him prior.
Usually, when a farrier or vet makes a comment to me like that, I wind up finding out a lot about their history. Though my farrier and vet know I would never repeat what they've said to me or they can lose work but they know what they've treated in an animal, what they've seen from people and who they are wary around. Most often, they are just trying to offer an animal a bit of peace from training extremes that aren't considered abusive to the point of having an animal taken away. Or they suspect things but can't prove what actually happened.
Maybe to ease your mind, ask the farrier next time or the vet seeing your horse if they know anything about the horse's history.
In any case, you now have to work with what you have to work with. As is the case for any animal sold to a new owner, period. Knowing his past and if it was abusive shouldn't change how you will train or what you will expect from your horse. Many people think, well I would go easier on them.
NO. You should train them exactly as you are doing. Your consistency and your expectations are what will strengthen the horse and teach them their new routine and what to expect from you. You wouldn't take it easier on a horse and let them do something bad just because they may have possibly been mistreated. You train them exactly the same way you train the rest minus the fact that you are unlearning & retraining them. So long as you are consistent in what you ask, clear in when you pressure on and off and make sure to reward them when they do right, it's really hard to go wrong with them.
Your expectation of them, makes them more confident. You being sure enough in yourself to get their feet moving when they are afraid and their focus back on you, makes them trust you as a leader. You being clear in your expectations builds a foundation of training for you to work with them and speak a language with them both of you understand.
A horse will always remember a person who has wronged them. Any horse I've ever trained, when they see me after, they show excitement in seeing me and neigh to me, inevitably seeking out their apple treats. Horses that were abused by someone will react differently toward them. They tense up, ears speaks volumes or move their head away from the stall door, etc.
One horse I've been working with lately, the owner contacted me and said she just acquired a horse who wasn't head shy now all of a sudden is extremely head shy. I went over and set a camera up in her stall and disguised it well. It turned out not to be abuse at all. Their morning feeder didn't know her horse well enough yet and was trying to dump the bucket in the morning. Her horse tends to love to eat and lives, sleeps, breathes wanting to eat. So when the man would near the stall with her food, she would stretch her head over the stall door as far as she could to try to steal a bit of food. He thought she was trying to be bossy and bite him like some horses do. So he was waving his cap in her face to get her to back up. Never touched her with the cap, just waved it in front of her face so he could get inside of her stall to dump the food without becoming her morning snack. That's all it was. We introduced the morning feeder to her and her him and now she's no longer having this problem.