Hi! I'm new here, so I'll start with a quick explanation of my situation. Sorry if this is long -- I've never been on a forum before, and I want to make sure I'm coming across clearly.
I'm 19, and I have quite a bit of experience with horses. My mother was a horse trainer earlier in life, but she has a physical disability and a busy job these days. I also live 20 minutes away in another county, so I'm trying to find advice instead of bothering her.
I bought a young mare for cheap 6 months ago. A man in my area was moving, and he was desperate to sell the horses he had on the property. Ladybird was living with her mother & father and a few other horses, and while she wasn't "wild" per say, she was rather ungentled.
She wouldn't take a rope. Her previous owner had to halter her mother and lead them both into my pasture, before pulling the mother away. It was terribly sad, and both of them were deeply upset. I didn't mess with her much at that point; she was so distressed that she wouldn't let anyone near her.
For the first two months, I simply let her loose in the pasture with my mother's mare and my brother's small gelding. At first, Ladybird was very avoidant and somewhat aggressive. She was the queen bee, and she regularly chased off the other two horses. Despite being quite small, she made it obvious that she was the smartest/bravest.
Her age is somewhat hazy -- she is definitely older than two, possibly three, but we're not sure where she lies exactly. Her development over the past six months has led us to believe she's about 3 now. She grew into her body: developing a wide chest, straight back, and thick neck.
Here's a picture of her, with me for size reference:
About 3 months in, she started approaching me, so I decided to start working with her.
Within two weeks, I was able to halter her and get her used to grooming & petting. It took some coaxing to let me slip a halter on, but it only took a half-hour. She was troublesome about being led at first, until a week later she just... decided to stop being stubborn. She hasn't balked or given me lip since.
She's gotten even friendlier since I moved -- likely because it's just the two of us (and my galgo, though he's terribly afraid of horses). I rarely have to go find her; she usually comes when I whistle, or lingers by the fence until I come out. When I do have to venture into the trees to go fetch her, she follows me back out without a lead.
In fact, she's usually off-lead. She follows me around like a puppy, so I don't need one most of the time. She fears nothing, and I've never had her bolt. When she does startle, she does so in-place, and fear quickly turns into curiosity. Overall, she's a fine little mare! Very bright, and by far my favorite horse I've worked with.
However, I want to make sure I train her properly, and I've had a few issues.
Ladybird refuses to lunge, for one. She consistently turns in! I can swing ropes, brandish whips, and spin her in circles, and she is unfazed. Once in a while, I can get her to do a half-circle around me, but she inevitably turns to face me.
I'm also not sure how to start her on saddle-training. Should I wait until I fix the lunging problem? What should I know about saddle training? I've read quite a few guides online, but I wanted some input from people I could TALK to. I don't plan on hopping on her anytime soon -- I'm playing the long-game here, so I'm not anxious to rush into things.
I know this is a long post, so forgive me! I just figured some background might help. Thank you for everything!