Originally Posted by AtokaGhosthorse View Post
Once you've absolutely ruled out any medical issues, and if this isn't defiant aggression (As opposed to genuine fear or a response to remembered pain) then you're going to have to take a different approach.
If it's pure fear... you're going to have to present everything to him slowly. Give snacks for a willingness to just sniff a saddle pad for example, then walk away with it. Put it up, forget it for the day, then groom him and keep your body language neutral and quiet. Come back the next day, present the saddle blanket... give him a treat for sniffing it and maybe another if he sniffs it again and doesn't move away.
Rinse and repeat until you can put it on his shoulder and rub it against him safely. Put it up. Walk away from the idea of tacking up. Give him snacks, calm talk, grooming. He has to learn to associate you with good things and the tack with good things.
The grooming and being calm around him will help him bond with you and you with him.
If he paws at you, give him a whap on the chest with a crop or something handy... but don't lose your temper and beat him like a red headed step child. Be fast, be fair. If physical assault really freaks him out, sometimes a stern ssshhhing, hands in the air, making yourself look big is enough to get your bluff in.
Then move on with your day like it never happened... just like other horses treat one another. Fast, fair, firm, absolute, then forget about it until you have to be fast, fair, and firm and absolute again... Consistency and being fair is the key here. You're going to have to also tailor your responses to the horse. It's not a once size fits all, different horses react differently to different corrections.
If it's true aggression - and not a response to fear: Do. Not. Risk it. You'll get stomped to pudding.
Note: It used to take over an HOUR to tack up my horse Trigger. Now, unless he's feeling fresh and antsy and eager, it takes about 15 minutes to tack him up in full double rigging, breast collar, wither strap, headstall a life saver snaffle, 8ft weighted split split reins and a curb chain. I no longer have to present EVERYTHING to him, though he seems to consider it polite and good manners to do so. If it's something new, I do let him sniff it over and give his approval first. Things just go so much smoother when he can look at it, sniff it, and process it, briefly, before I dump it on him. We no longer spent an hour and a half talking about tack and giving reassurances it won't eat him or hurt him. Snacks are now only for the most extreme of good behavior and given randomly 'just because' rather than for every. little. positive thing. he does. Stuff like letting me touch him... no. Stuff like not spooking at a Scary Thing he used to spook at, like a feed bag blowing in the wind on the side of the trail? Mystery Dog just manifesting out of the tall grass and barking, and Trigs just keeps trucking along like Dog isn't there? You betcha he gets snacks. I ride with them in my pockets.
TL;dr.... Be sure, sure, sure, it's not pain related. IF you're sure you've ruled it out, make sure, sure, sure, it's a fear response, not aggression or aggressive defiance.
Then be prepared to take as much time, over the course of as many weeks, months, or years (It took TWO YEARS with Trigger) as it takes.
Auction horses come with 'holes' in the them. They have a sketchy past, they probably have reasons for being at an auction. It may take weeks, even months to figure out why since they can't tell us in words what sets them off, or how bad, or good, they've been treated, or where their training holes are. Trigger and Sarge are both auction horses. Sarge came from an Amish auction that was open to English to sell stuff, so he's an 'English' horse sold by a big ranching outfit that brought a couple of surplus horses down to sell; Trigger came from a low end horse auction in Cleburn Tx. Sarge was 700.00 to bring home, Trigger was 400.00 plus I bought a 300.00 Ammerman roping saddle from the guy that sold him to me, so 700.00 for him too. Both have problems, though Trigger's have been more severe. Sarge is just a big, lazy, insecure, proud cut goon who's never seen a mare he didn't immediately buddy sour to or another gelding he didn't immediately want to challenge for said mare's affections. Trigger however has probably been abused and his most likely past life has finally revealed itself. I've had Sarge two years, Trigger three. I wouldn't part with either, but they both have their hang ups. Neither are mean or aggressive to people or this would be a very different conversation.
One last thing. I see a lot of people trashing Amish for being abusive to their horses. I guess that experience with the Amish and their livestock is very different than mine. The Amish out in Clarita OK take very good care of their animals - they are their livelihood and every Amish horse I've ever met was bright eyed and altogether lovely and full of themselves. I absolutely lost it, grinning in delight, when I saw a pair of teenage Amish girls with a little cart, in stylish aviator sunglasses and Nike flip flops, the bonnets and Amish dresses, and a horse with his head up, tail flagging, trotting right down the road at a spirited pace back in May when we went over to their greenhouse/nursery.
He was not at an auction he was at an amish farm out in PA, so many people have given up on this horse not willing to work with him because he is “difficult” but i strongly believe in him and that’s hes not in pain and it’s just how he acts about tacking up.. he’s fine for blanketing and petting anywhere and brushing it’s just tacking up as i said.
i bought this horse because he has lots of potential and i do know what i am doing (other than coming on her and seeing what other peoples opinions were..) i know i have to work with him bc he clearly has trust issues.
i got him 3 months ago and when i first got him he couldn’t lunge he would go one way and turn fast and run the other way and he was terrified of a lot right now he trusts me the most and i can take him for walks around the barn and lunge him with no problem.. i can brush him but i cannot cross tie him he gets so anxious and scared (me thinking he prob flipped or something happened to him on them) but my mom normally holds him for me and he loves snuggles and is calm being held.. that’s where he’s most comfortable.