I went to meet a lovely horse called Di, owned by Karen in April 2008. Karen has had Di for a number of years and has achieved a great deal, overcoming numerous issues along the way.
We were limited on time and so we had a general session working with Di loose in the school.
I also did some work on a halter and discussed with Karen the way she interacts with Di. It became apparent that Di had a bit of a reputation on the yard for being aggressive. I did not find her aggressive when loose schooling her but once a horse has such a reputation the way people treat the horse often fuels the situation.
We took Di back to the stable where she displayed a lot of nervous aggression. I left Karen with a number of observations and ideas which obviously gave her a lot to think about.
Karen has since reported that “although not a reformed character Di is overall much easier- I don't know if it is a change in my attitude or hers! She now does not lunge over the door to eat people - just snarls from a distance!- but it is an improvement.”
I am hoping to go back to work with Di again to explore positive training as I think this will help with Di’s nervousness in the stable and her reluctance to interact with people other than Karen.
As I found with Soldier, you can spend many years trying to earn a horses trust and you can also be consumed by guilt for previous mistreatment by others or your own failings. It is important to remember that horses don’t dwell on the past and what they really need is positive leadership.