Does she accept me as her leader?
I have a crossbreed filly of 2 and a half years old. We seem to have a great bond, but I do understand that I am her caretaker. I am the one feeding, grooming her. I often wondered if she accepts me as her leader, or just her caretaker. She is very friendly by nature, and the only problem we had so far was an issue of her being a bit herd bound, but we worked through that.
She is a bit spooky, so the trainer did some desensitizing exercises the other day using a plastic bag, some beach balls and an umbrella. I was in the pen with them, not really to help, but because I am really interested in training methods. Every time the scary beach ball approached her, she came running straight to me and placed her forehead on my shoulder. When she stood next to me, nothing seemed to scare her. Because we got nowhere with me in the pen, I got out and stood beside it on the outside. Again, she came running to where I was standing.
Does this mean she accepts me as her leader and looks toward me to protect her? Obviously that is what I want to believe... Or maybe it's just because I was the only familiar thing there?
I would also like to hear opinions on when is the best time to start backing her. All the websites say different things and I figured why not ask all you experienced horse people. She takes the saddle without a fuss, but I definitely will not add weight before she turns 3.