thanks again for the feedback - helps when some know the trials so far. First just want to get this out of the way as I possibly didn't make it clear: I would not be letting friend ride her independently and not for a VERY long time and never without an instructor doing a proper lesson. When I mean by lead - I mean literally with a long lead rope attached. Not just me walking by her side giving her full control, nope nope nope. Nope.
I forgot something very important - this isn't about riding Katie specifically although that is a goal, to a lesser degree, for my friend. She wants to ride at this school full stop but the instructor told her that all her lesson horses are sensitive and/or forward. That if my friend went there from the start it would have been easier but now that she's in the habit of kicking and hard reining it will be difficult as her horses react strongly to... strong cues. And now that Katie ran away with her she's fearful, compounding things further. But you all know what it's like to ride a plod horse that makes you want to pull your hair out. That's the sort of horse friend has been learning on. But watching other people ride Katie AND being told that she's not good enough lit a fire in her. She has only been doing privates since. She WANTS me to lead her for safety and to only to to get to feel what it takes to make Katie go forward and to use her seat to slow her down - nothing more. Because last time she was on her she kicked Katie like a normal lesson horse despite being warned, got run away with, braced and got off the first chance she could. Now she knows better. So I can't really blame her for wanting a positive, learning experience and a chance to gauge what sort of control will be required of her for something as simple as a walk and halt. I walk Katie down the trail and she's been hacked out down it - she's used to it and it requires no roadwork. I imagine my friend will be more relaxed knowing that I'm in charge (she still is a bit naive but I'm not about to actively scare her by listing off worst case scenarios). We are both insured. The aim is to get to the point she can ride at the school, not ride Katie specifically (but she represents the bar, if you know what I mean) - I made it clear that Katie will never be a "Freebie" and a time will come where I won't do working livery and to not expect a time where she can ride Katie willy-nilly just because we are friends. She has requested if lunge lessons are an option as well, so will see.
So, knowing that, how do you feel now? I really like the idea of staying in a school and letting her ride Katie but with me at the center with a lunge line attached - not literally lunging her, but being present. My only concern is that if my friend drives Katie forward that she would NOT be able to relax to the point I could override the forward cue - if that makes sense? Katie is very good to lead - very good. She listens to me and we are at the point she stops, waits and comes verbally - even while hand grazing I only have to say "come" and she will lift her head and begin walking towards me. I have handled dominant/pushy stallions and panicked horses on the ground and am confident in redirecting energy though let's face it, none of us enjoy it. I actually think in my personal situation that I would have MORE presence and control when leading but I do agree that it is safer and more controlled on a lunge line IF* things get sticky. I think Katie will be more confused on the lunge line and if she goes she GOES. I personally would enjoy a wild ride, my friend, not so much >.<
My gut says that Katie will listen to me, that my friend now knows better than to kick. That if I get worried at any point in time I will not let it escalate and get my friend off. But I think that Katie and she are BOTH better prepared now, compared to last month.
I did not know interpreters were used in competitions. I think that's WONDERFUL. Because my friend was incredibly put off as an adult now she has to go out and find help on her own. The RDA instructors I know only know a few signs but it was mainly physical disabilities that I came across in my time working there- any that were on the spectrum for example had their own personal assistants present at all time to interpret. But my friend wont have that - which is off putting as she also can't afford to hire someone in addition to lessons. Am hoping to find a workaround and its great that some of you have actually been fortunate enough to experience, work with or witness such empathy!