She was trained up for a show-jumping career, but had an issue with her cannon bone that meant that the jumping and all the training for it hurt her. So she was adopted into an equine therapy program as a therapy horse. She's sensitive and "spooky".
Her spooking, bolting, and anxious behaviors have pushed people away from working with her. That, combined with another injury a few months ago, caused behavioral changes that didn't go away even after she recovered from the injury. (aggression, isolating herself from the herd, even more spooking etc). Which then meant even less people wanted to work with her.
Medically, she's OK. Mentally, and emotionally? Nope.
That's where I come in. I volunteer 3-4 times a week, sometimes 6, and when horses have a training program, sometimes I'm asked to take it on. Which is the case here. I'm assigned to help this mare every day until she's feeling better.
I'm currently 2 weeks into working with her and here's the status:
1 At this barn they use treat training, and the response with treats is- she fixes on the food, and blocks out everything else. She also gets more excited and I didn't think those bursts of sporadic energy would help her stay calm and focused. So I've taken out the treats for our sessions. She's not a fan of that.
2- She's more relaxed, she tunes into my cues better, and basics like grooming and hooves are going much faster. *she is frightened of curry combs, among other things*.
3. Handling is easier, she's moving her feet willingly, she's doing Join-Up at least once a session now and we always end on a good note.
4 We still get spooky behaviors but nothing to a level 10 so far. I've kept it lowkey and slow, so that's no surprise. The first two weeks have been a lot of trust-building and testing to see just how spooky she is and some of her triggers. *She is afraid of curry combs, as one example*.
5- She is starting to socialize more with the herd and she comes willingly into the arena to work. 2 weeks ago, she did not. Now she does. I had to pull her out today because she wanted to stay in the arena. Progress.
In theory I'm supposed to use Parelli games/treats with her, but my gut instinct is that it's not right for her. So I'm looking for inspiration here. Monty's program looks to be excellent and might be just what we need, though I'm not too confident in myself in using it, because I'm a beginner to Join-Up...
I suspect the Dually halter might help her, combined with the groundwork and desensitization we're doing already. But I'm a beginner to this and maybe there's something else we should work at first?
-Are there any lessons here that might be helpful to Sunny and I? If so, can you tell me the title so I can find it? If you've had success with a case like this I'd love to hear about that too.
-I've also been SO curious about the Dually halter. If it's worked for you I'd love to hear about it.