I'm not sure if this is the correct place to ask this question or seek advice (it's definitely needed!), but I figured this thread was the closest to what I'm having trouble with.
So, I'm not a new rider, but I am a new owner. I was very careful when looking at the horses I did look at, especially since I adopted (though, the rescue was absolutely amazing- mostly OTTB centered- and very well run. The woman who ran it expected the best for her horses and their future homes)
The mare I ended up adopting was honestly one of the sweetest mares I have ever met (at the time...~) Not a mean bone in her body- she was eager to please, interested in all of us, and amazingly relaxed. Nothing like the others I looked at, who were very detached and nonchalant about everything I was doing- no interest in connecting. Juliet, however, was very curious and very happy the second my riding instructor and I walked up. She's eight, soon to be nine, but very green. She was previously adopted, and her former owner wanted her back, but didn't at the time of having her actually have time to ride or work with her. The fact that she was wanted back and her previous owner loved her so much was something that really backed this mare up- she's obviously got something good going on if she's wanted back so badly.
I didn't meet this mare once, either. I went several times, and rode her a few times after the initial meet and greet. For a horse that hadn't been ridden in nine months, I was amazed. She didn't kick up, buck, pin her ears, stomp, she wasn't rushing through anything- she rode better after nine months than horses I've ridden after two weeks. Another plus.
But the horse I have now is absolutely NOTHING like this anymore.
She was stalled at the rescue, but now we have her on 24/7 turnout, which she loves and handles well for a TB. She keeps weight easy on grass and grain (She's actually GAINED weight!)- however, this new turn in her attitude has resulted in the inability to catch her.
The longest I've spent trying- and failing- to get her has been 4 hours. I've tried treat bribing, getting her into a nice scratch than stopping and turning away from her (she REALLY hates that! She gets so huffy when I stop scratching her neck! At first it got her still long enough for me to at least get a lead over her neck, but she's not one to fall for the same trick twice.) Now, if she sees a lead, we can't get close enough to even touch. She looks at us like she'd LIKE to come to us for a treat and some attention, BUT there's that "I also see that halter, and the cons outweigh the pros" look, too.
With the lead and halter, you'd swear she'd think I was out to kill her. WITHOUT the lead and halter, she's a total lovebug. She'll meet me halfway in the field, respect my space, and is just an all around pleasant horse to be around. But if she sees that halter it's like a switch has been flipped. She kicks her heels up, turns her back to me (which is such a no-no in my book), and picks fights with her pasture buddy to keep me at a "safe distance"
The first month we brought her back, she wasn't like this at all. She was so easy to get from the field. She was anxious, of course, which I totally expected and worked very hard to get her through. I only rode her a few times in the first month, deciding groundwork would probably be the best (and safest) option. She wasn't accustomed to riding in groups or being around multiple horses (even in her field there's only one other horse), so she was very high during those times, and handling her could be a challenge. That led to solo work and riding, which I had no problem with (she was a bit of a kicker during the beginning, now she only really gives dirty looks, and it's hard for most people to grasp the concept "a horse's length apart" apparently) Consequently, on the ground she's totally fine. But there's a definite "lost in translation" factor the second I'm in the saddle.
The catching problem started directly after I lounged her, so it wasn't hard to make that connection. Or assume at least- after her first lounging session she was very weird about lead ropes, so I worked on getting that positive association back, and I still occasionally (when I CAN get her from the field) do a little lounging and lead work to make sure she knows it's not going to hurt her and she's totally fine.
It's really just recently the getting her has been a real problem, though, since she discovered how to rub her halter off within three weeks of leaving it on her.
But she's totally unwilling. I thought it was confusion at first, my thought process more of a "well, she is green, and she IS an ex racer, she's never had much consistency outside of a stall, so just be as consistent as possible" but I'm more than certain she's just plain uninterested in anything to do with me if it comes to riding or work now. Everything I've been doing with her, the consistency I've been trying to maintain, any other horse would get at most within a couple of riding sessions, and if not at least show some improvement. Juliet, however, prefers to ignore what she doesn't like if it involves a saddle.
And I can't figure out what to do about this. Mounted and riding wise, I've done everything as lightly and as gently as possible, from just walk sessions, to w/t/c, serpentines and figure eights to make it interesting, maybe a small crossrail, and even just trying to get a slow relaxed trot (she's not smooth enough for a sitting trot, which was done in an ATTEMPT to get her used to my seat. My back attests to that mistake x3). Lots of praise, but definite attempts at correction when she got out of hand.
I can't figure out what I've done and am doing wrong or if this is just something going on with her- because what I'm working with now isn't what I worked with at the rescue. I'd go as far as to say this is a completely different horse, in attitude and energy. Being around her in the beginning was was like a sedative, honestly She felt like a lazy QH, not a high strung TB xD We were all amazed at how easily she took to travelling, and how smoothly she settled in. Now, however, it's like being around a ticking time bomb.
Our plan at the moment is to put her back in a stall, with individual turnout in a paddock (as hardcore the woman who ran the rescue was about stalls and rotating turnouts- though she did have around 80 horses- I honestly just can't bring myself to like them.) This will also give her pasture buddy a break, because she is a very bossy young lady xD
Right now, I feel like she associates me as someone who's taking away her "freedom" (the field and her friend), and with the whole "whoever controls the resources gets the respect" theory, I figured putting her in a stall and turning her out myself MIGHT help. Instead of taking her from what she likes to something she doesn't, I'll be taking her from something she's tired of, to something stimulating. Be it going in the paddock to graze and run, or a riding session. Positive association with me and that halter (or this could come back to bite me in the butt, I'm not sure but at this point I'm desperate to try anything)
If anyone has ever worked with a horse like this or ANYTHING, and has any advice it'd be greatly appreciated! I'm trying to figure out what I'm doing wrong and what I can do to help her, because as it is now it's just exhausting and frustrating for the both of us, and it's not healthy either
If I can't get her to be happy about riding or working, I at least want her to be okay with it and happy about everything else xD