I had the trainer out today. Turns out she's exactly what I expected, much the same as I am, with the same kinds of ideas, none of which is a real goal oriented list type problem solving fixer upper... which is disheartening. I was hoping someone would come out and be like "I had a horse that did that exact thing and here's how I fixed it" but no. Now I'm out some $$$ and still in the same boat. Trainer did say that her body language was off and that her reaction made her think that there may have been something traumatic while tied in the past. The thing that gets me is that she trailers great, will stand tied forever until confronted with something scary. Its at that point that all hell breaks loose. I hate that I did this, but I'll confess it so that I know never to do it again......
Trainer requested that I show her how she reacts to being confronted with scary somethings while tied... so I rustled a baggie, trying to get her to react and pull just a little. Well turns out plastic baggies are TERRIFYING and she had the worst freakout yet, which bore forth her first tying related injury that I'm aware of. She struggled so badly that she gave herself a bloody fat lip on something. All I saw at first was that she pulled back and her mouth was bleeding. I knew this before, but I know even more now that I cannot tie her until we get her seriously de-stressed about all this stuff. I feel like a terrible mom, and it was a total mistake to provoke a reaction, I just didn't know how to accurately describe what she did and how she acted without triggering some kind of response for Trainer to see. I realize now that Trainer suggesting this in the first place should have sent off red flags, but I'm so desperate for a solution at this point that I just want to do whatever it takes to figure it out.
So for now I'm going to put a hiatus on the riding thing, work her butt so she's tired by lunging, and do lots of groundwork. Trust building exercise ideas? Give me your best shot. I'm going to go on a treasure hunt through the house and make up some really fun ways to desensitize/build trust. So far my ideas range from tying a bunch of plastic bags onto a yarn or twine string and putting them up across the top of the round pen/laying them all over her, get the tarp out, filling old water bottles with pebbles, water balloons, yard chairs, I really want to do confetti, the sparkly kind, but that would make a bigger mess than I'm willing to clean up. I might try to create some kind of headdress from those shiny twirly-gigs:
just to be extra creative. Please let me know if you have any other ideas for potentially scary things. Also, if you know of a good brand of rope burn proof gloves that I can pick up online somewhere, that'd be helpful. I'm going to try the cheap method of a 'blocker' tie, where you just wrap the lead around the tie post once to give you a little more pressure control. I also found that there are two nice high (taller than withers) tie horseshoes in the round-pen which I will utilize eventually. I'm going to try to get her to stop pulling back on the ground, so that she realizes that running away isn't going to solve anything.
I am just really disappointed about today. I was hoping for a concrete "do this and she'll tie" solution, even if it meant lots of time, effort, whatever. I'm still up in the air with what the right thing to do is. All I know is I can't tie her.
Goals: channel my inner monk to gain the patience needed for this ordeal.