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Hey all! So I bought this 3yo filly in September. She is sweet natured but touchy, I was told she wasn’t handled much so assumed this was just from that. I have been working with her on desensitization and getting her ready to carry a rider. I started slow, teaching her to lunge where she first started out having tantrums not wanting to move out and flying backwards (almost scared I was going to smack her). ..............................
I picked up a 12 yr old mare who was extemely reactive when she came. Because I didn't know what she had been through, I have been working at her pace, taking things really slow... It's been a year and she has come a long way, She only recently allowed me to sit on her for more than a couple of seconds! We also had to switch farriers, but only because the mistrust she has of men. She has had no issue with my female farrier... In the meantime she is getting used to my husband and our vet when they come out to the barn... I hope to reintroduce her to my male farrier and we plan to over the summer to see if she is any better.

I'm also in no hurry but hope to be in the saddle and on the trails this summer.. But that's my hope for us.
Sometimes if they have been through a rough patch, it may take a lot longer than most people are willing to put in...
 

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H

How did you teach her to calm down fast?
It wasn't a fast process. I just stayed calm and allowed her to panic for a minute, then went on as if nothing happened. After a while her freak outs got smaller and resolved faster as she realized life would go on and that I was not disturbed by whatever bothered her.

A lazy horse can also be reactive. But they may learn to calm down faster if they don't have as much natural energy.

I personally didn't try to make her accept a new thing as much as I used the fear to teach her she would survive. Then it was easier for her to accept any new thing.
 

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First I would have bloodwork done, and check for kissing spine and epm. Both I have seen different stories of having connections to reactiveness. Possibly even Lyme.

Next I had bought a 5yr old that was exactly this way.I did everything I could think to work her through it, including an animal communicator. Before I sold her she had made progress, however any amount of change would set her off again. She was not enjoyable to me and after a year of trying to get to somewhere cohesive, I decided that with my sport requiring location/arena/ surrounding etc changes and her reactiveness to any change, it would not be fair to her or I.
For her routine was EVERYTHING, if I did everything exactly the same she was ok or atleast manageable when she did get worried.
 

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I wonder if she just needs more time - to mature and to feel comfortable. She sounds really triggered and as long as she’s in that reactive mode can’t learn. There’s a lot of research about trauma informed care for humans, not sure what exists for horses.

The closest parallel I have is that I was at some group training lessons with my 3 year old dog Juno. Another lady in the class tripped, fell over and landed with alot of noise (it was in an echoey room in an old church). Juno had an extreme flight or flight reaction and wanted to escape. I tried working through it but she was shaking and couldn’t listen. We left and walked around the block, came back and she still couldn’t learn. She seemed like herself (was no longer shaking and stiff) but her lack of capacity to do the drills was not normal. We had to give up that day and adjust my expectations until she got comfortable in the setting again. She was wary for the next two classes and her capacity to learn or even demonstrate things she already knew was hugely diminished. From what I have read, horses have an even more sensitive psyche as prey animals compared to dogs.

My thought would be to slow down on the training and instead first work on building a deeper sense of security, trust and relationship and positive experiences. Horse Speak by Sharon Wilsie is fantastic for that. I think it’s basically showing the horse that you see their signs and respect them. Mustang Maddy may also have tips for this kind of thing.

For whatever reason the volume of info is too much, so maybe choose one step and have her master that before trying to build.
 
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