I made a mistake (or actually probably a series of mistakes.)
This is all on me so I don't want anyone to think I'm blaming anyone for any of this but myself.
If you remember Mijo and Mija are my two paints and I love them with all my heart, it has been a bumpy road with them, they are about 5-6 years old now.
This all started back in Aug 2020. There's a "Hand" at the ranch "Horse Company" where I keep the horses who said he would ride them both for me for a small fee each. I was like sure, someone thinks they can ride my "wild" horses I was all for it. I am just too old to be getting up on an unstarted horse, I'm not in my prime anymore, twenty years ago I probably would have done it myself but enough excuses. I paid him to ride them, and he rode them once each and neither one of them bucked, he said. I was not there at the time he chose to ride them. He did not tell me he was going to do it then or I would have tried to be there for it. I want to be there for everything with them, but he didn't tell me until after the fact and more or less just sent me pictures. Which, at that moment, I thought was a good thing for them. I did not see any real change in their behavior at that time. However, he did say it took him about an hour to catch Mijo in the field, that he basically chased or followed him until he got him cornered in one of the corners and then finally caught him and harnessed him.
Nov/Dec 2020 The round pen went up for use at the Horse Company. I took Mija in there a few times. She was not hard to harness in the pasture, and is still not today, even wants me to do so she will even let me do it from over the fence on the outside while she is on the inside.
I took Mijo in there once. He has never been hard for me to catch, From day one when I got him back when they came to the Horse Company last year I've periodically harnessed him and took him out of the pasture, not real often, but as my schedule and so forth will allow. Maybe harnessed him half a dozen times and played with him in the pasture and 3 or 5 times taken him out, either to the hitching post working with his feet or just walking around, I did take him once out last summer/fall for the Ferrier.
About this same time Nov/Dec I took him to the round pen and did join up, which I thought was an absolutely perfect join up and follow up. Did not have a hard time harnessing him at all, he did great with his groundwork, leads, backs up, all that. I did not do anything else at that time, took him back to the pasture, and let him go, he seemed happy.
Then, I bought a harness/rope set and I love it, turquoise and silver, kinda shiny, and he decided he did not like it. (Mija loves it, harnessed her with it today actually...) Anyway, he let me put it on him once but then started getting spooky about it.
Then he wouldn't let me harness him with anything, and I was thinking "live by the principles of join-up even in the field" so when he wouldn't let me go up to him and moved away from me when I tried, (which never happened before) I moved him away, rope and long line in hand and sent him away. A bit I chased him to try to get him to join back up with me and he wasn't having it. So I didn't catch him.
Even though every time I go there he still whinnies and comes right up to the gate (they both do) when I come and/or whistle for them.
2021 The winter storms came, and I couldn't work with them through all that cold so I shored them up with sweet feed so they would stay warm (they don't have anything out there but a big tree to hide under.) I was struck with covid, in Feb, and the whole month from late in Jan to the end of Feb I couldn't even go see them. The "hands" took care of them for me while I was very ill. I finally got well.
I went back to work about two and a half weeks ago and started going back out to see them first part of March. If I so much as go walking out to the gate with rope/harness/longline whatever in my hand (anything other than feed or grooming things) Mijo will go away.
There were a few times this happened where I chased him with it in my hands but never did catch him, on one Sat I chased him for 3 hours in the 5 or so acres, til I thought my feet were going to fall off and never did get him to do join-up in the field with me, never did catch him.
If I even hang the tack on the gate post he is tentative about it, hesitant, if I reach for it he will go away. Mija is not scared at all, loves the attention, and will let me harness her from outside or inside as I said before, her behavior has not changed at all, or actually, I think it has improved.
A week ago, (Sat today) so last Sat, took some honey out and kinda showed them what it was, Mijo was not trusting it, and I think only got a little taste, Mija loved it, I just put a little on the rail where they could get a taste for it and she really liked it. One of my close friends was with me, and I tried to get Mijo with the harness and the long line, but he wasn't having anything to do with it. I didn't run him off, I was trying to be very gentle but eventually, he just went off on his own while I was playing with his sister and paying her attention and never came back over to the gate area at all. I didn't go chase him when I started to walk up he started to walk away I quit and went back to the gate. We made our plan to build a catch pen at the gate the following Sat, (today.)
Tuesday I took the curry comb and brush and nothing else, no tack or honey. Mijo let me brush him from outside the fence and Mija loves being brushed and the attention, well until he runs her off from me. He gets very jealous of my attention on her and often gets in between or runs her off.
Thur I went out to them as I usually do before work, took some honey and the curry comb and brush and a wooden spoon with me, Mija did great with it, took it just like the videos on the Uni, (like a bit.) She loved the honey. They both let me brush them (again not in their space) but from outside the fence. Mijo was not having anything to do with that spoon. When I was getting ready to leave the "hand" that rode them happened to come up and struck up a conversation because I had originally paid him to ride them more than once and he has not done a second ride and did I still want him to do that? I said no, and told him about Mijo's behavior. Well, he thought he could go out there in 15 min and catch them, so I said ok, go try. 30 min later and three loops (some at high speed) around the pasture, neither horse was caught, I called the "hand" back because I had to go to work and I knew at that point it wasn't going to happen, and I had to go to work at that point I was running late.
Friday went out again, did not take anything but the brush and curry comb with me, and just spent some time loving on them and grooming them from outside the fence.
Today, built our catch pen at the gate, Mijo did great, but I was afraid to go in there with him because I didn't want to get run over or kicked, there is enough room in there though, it's the width of a gate and length of a panel. We worked with him from outside the fence, my friend on one side and me on the other, and just tried to "desensitize" him and show him that the dually halter and the long line were not going to hurt him. Then changed to the blue rope halter (his halter and lead which is much shorter but not the blue and silver one he decided he hates, a different one.) And we rubbed that on as much of him as we could get close to concentrating on his head and neck.
One of the other owners came by a friend of ours and I guess he must have been watching me and asked if I wanted that halter on my boy, I said sure I did! He went right in the catch pen with him and harnessed him, not aggressively at all, but slowly and talking softly and just harnessed him and left. I thought that was really nice, I guess I've just heard too many times people say "those horses will hurt you" even though I've ridden and been around horses all my life I still am a bit cautious, and perhaps too much so. We were then able to work with him rub the rope all over him, both sides. Really, just head, neck, shoulders, back, not the legs yet or derriere. So then unharnessed him, dropped everything on the ground, and went and had a break. When we went back 10-15 min later, I went right in like my friend and harnessed him again not fast, not aggressively but moving slow and talking softly. He let me do it and again we rubbed the lead all over, and this time rubbing the long line all over on him, and again, took the harness off and let him have some time to process.
When we went back I took the shiny turquoise and silver one, which he even reacted to it when I walked by him to his sister who was hanging out farther down the fence line. She let me harness her, just put her head right in, her inside the fence and me outside, she loves the attention.
We turned Mijo loose in the pasture, took her in, and groomed her, I didn't want her to feel left out. He couldn't run her off because she was then inside the catch pen. So that worked out.
I know this is all my fault that his trust is shattered and he's now afraid of the ropes and tack. I hope that I can get him over it by summer cause I really want to be able to ride them both this summer.
As always comments and suggestions are always welcome! Thanks for reading I hope it's not TLDR.