So recently I've been working with Teddy, a TWH gelding my grandma has. She hasn't had a ton of time for him recently (family tragedy, family members with cancer, ect) and he's 5 so he needs somebody just to ride him really. She also hurt her tailbone falling off the pony so till she's better I'm on Teddy duty. He's a fun little horse, but he's extremely sensitive.
A bit of background on his story and personality:
He's an interesting character. He likes kids but gets nervous around older people. Two owners before us, he was being ridden by a little kid as a Hunter-Jumper horse
. For obvious reasons he was sold to some very nice people I know personally, who in turn sold him to us (they just didn't have the space nor the time). We've taken him on several trail rides and had a lot of fun with him.
He's just a bit spooky, especially when he's alone. That's his only vice. I think that him being spooky, his tendency to be buddy sour, and his sensitiveness to everything all ties in somewhere, I'm just trying to figure out what's missing. Does he not trust us? What's making him so twitchy about things? I'm beginning to wonder if he wasn't handled roughly in the past.
I doubt it's just him being mean. He is bossy to the other horses but if you so much as holler at him he stops. You can yell "TEDDY" from the house and if he's bothering another horse he'll quit. Stop right there and look at you.
There's honestly nothing "wrong" with this horse except for the fact he's nervous about...everything. It's better if he's with another horse, but not always. Just today, I was riding bareback and a kid I was teaching was riding my old horse. Old guy was being clumsy and decided he was headed for the barn and jostled past me. I waved my ball cap at him and Teddy lost his marbles. First he spooked, which is understandable, but then he bucked and sent me tumbling into a pile of nettles and horse poop, then took off for the barn.
I get it that he spooked- I wasn't really mad at that. I was a bit irritated that he then decided to buck me off. In his defense, he hadn't been ridden for a couple of weeks and was only ridden intermittently before that, so he was kind of fresh. But of all the things to spook at- my hat?
The bucks weren't horribly bucks either...if I had been in a saddle I may not have come off. He's never bronco bucked. I've been thoroughly bucked off before and know what if feels like- that wasn't it.
I guess my question is really how to desensitize him to things and get him comfortable around us. He keeps his distance if you walk around in the pasture. I generally just leave him. His pasture, his space, let him have that. Thing is, the kids, even the ones who have ridden him, go up to him and love all over him no problem. He'll come up to the fence and let them pet him but as soon as a Big Person comes he walks off.
To be entirely honest the best thing for him would probably be to have one person out there with him a lot. Not only to ride him, but to groom him and love on him and just hang out around him. However I'm only out there once- maybe twice a week. He's handled almost daily at feeding time but not ridden or thoroughly groomed every day.
I've never met a horse this sensitive. You can ride him in a halter. I think he actually works better in a sidepull than a bit anyhow, I'll probably switch him to that. That's what I rode him in today. He responds to the gentlest leg pressure. He can be a bit forward but never the impossible to stop forward. Just "I wanna gooo!".
But, he's also sensitive about everything else. If you took a crop to that horse he would lose his Jesus. Even when I've corrected him with a harder nudge with my leg than usual he'd jerk like I'd hit him or something. If he's on the ground and you wave your hands at him he'll wheel around and move away from you pretty quickly. About the speed of a fast trot- except it's not a trot, because he's a walker
. The other horses (and the donkey) are at the point where you can swat flies off them with a fly swatter. Teddy not so much. He would not be happy about that at all.
I don't think the traditional "sacking out" would work well with this horse. Or with any horse for that matter, but especially this one. I'm just not sure how to get him to trust me and know that me swinging my hat around won't hurt him.
I really do wonder if he was treated roughly before. His actions are similar to one of Boss's horses who was treated roughly and is still headshy because of it. He acts a lot like Teddy does, except that Boss's horse is...friendlier. It's a lot easier to tell what's going on in his head, if that makes sense. Teddy is very guarded. Like he's worried you might suddenly do something scary.
He's not bad, we just need to work on a couple things. He's young. He's still somewhat a blank slate and I want his experiences with us to be good. I'm just not quite sure how to get him to ease up around us.