I have returned to my first passion of horses after many years away. I was lucky enough to be given my horse by my sister, as neither her nor her daughter could get her to respond to them in an non-aggressive manner.
Our first meeting was when she came off the truck after a eight hour trip, in the dark, to a new stable where she knew no other horses. There stood a person she didn't know, waiting with a torch. It was a hard, scary start for both of us, but we made it through our first day.
Our first ride was by ourselves in a drum round yard in the middle of a storm. Okay, so I was playing with fire, but for me it was love at first sight, and it went well. Then came two snapped bridles, endless hours of lunging with ears flat back, and her coming striking at me the second I lost concentration.
That was two years ago. She still hates to lunge, but is no longer dangerous, and we haven't snapped a bridle in over a year-and-a-half. I trolled every website I could find, and found some very good ones that allowed me to slowly but surely change her attitude without breaking that fantastic Arab spirit, and without unnecessary force. A lot of this has been achieved through natural horsemanship, but not all.
I have respect from her on the ground. I have even taught her that she can't come near me when I'm getting her feed set up, and she can't eat until I tell her. I can't even get my dogs to do that! So here we are two years later and I'm having dressage lessons. My instructor is also teaching her dressage. They look beautiful together, and she is riding her in an upcoming show, as I haven't reached that level yet.
Getting this far has been slow, but when we hit a brick wall six months ago, I nearly sent her back to my sister. She bucked me off at a standstill, and I have never been so hurt in my life. The hospital thought I had fractured my lower vertebrae, but I don't break that easily.
My instructor keeps telling me that I need to find the button when I'm in the saddle. I FOUND IT. My huge break-through moment came three weeks ago, when I decided I would go down to the stable a good eleven hours before my lesson, and putter around. I spent time not only brushing her, but we did lots of hugs and kisses and scratching, and just us time.
When my lesson started, my instructor was so surprised that she had finally stopped fighting me and was going on the bit, and was happy to step out. Oh my goodness! Who knew?! Every horse needs something from their person. The secret is to find out what that is. It can be a long slow journey, but when you find that button, it is magical. Every ride I have had since then, starts with us time, and she is a different animal.
I urge anyone who wants to get their horse to bond, to start with the basics, lay good ground work, work with feet and teeth, and if all of that is good, and there are still problems, get a vet check. Even get the chiropractor to check your horse's back, as I did. By incorporating all of these things, I found out about many issues which were fixed, and yes it did cost a lot.
I next got a saddle-fitter, who pointed out that my saddles were not wide enough for the horse's spine. She also picked up that she had incurred a shoulder injury at some point in time. Amazingly, she also watched me walk, and told me about my knee injury, which very few people know about. She fitted the saddle for both my horse and me. It was the last thing my girl needed, to go forward onto the dressage path.
I am told by a lot of experienced horse people that my mare is very smart, and has the potential to go a long way on the show circuit. I am 49; my mare is eight. It just goes to show, you are never to old to learn new things. So don't give up. Do lots of web surfing, people questioning, trying of different things, and listen to your horse.
Good luck, and enjoy.