Especially since I have started focusing more on Monty Robert's teachings for a willing partner, I am looking for advice to encourage and excite my mare and to teach her how to have fun again. While she is my first partner in crime compared to my other two mares, I do want her to have more fun and be more willing than I feel that she is right now. I am worried that she is performing more out of obedience than out of wanting to and I can't help but feel guilty when I ride her lately because of this fear.
And to be fair, I've only recently and actively joined this movement as I do come from a background where I was taught to use crops. I haven't used any in a long time and only used them when I had a horse acting out. I'm not proud of it and have already banned crops and such tactics in my barn. However, I know that the college barn that she came from with her previous lease still endorses those tactics, as many in the horse community still do. While I do not believe any such measures should've been necessary while she was on lease (she is near perfect now with years under her belt), I simply wasn't there to supervise everything. I do know that I was concerned when I brought her home and as soon as I mounted for our first ride, she shoved her head way down as if expected to already frame up and I barely even touched the reins. It even took a while for her to canter in a frame without her picking up galloping into it and breathing like a fire-breathing dragon. I have had to do a little untraining and reminding her to relax under saddle since bringing her home. When I asked if the lease had any recent video of her cantering under saddle at the barn, I was told that there was no video available so I have no way to compare if it was situational or forced-training.
I am curious on what advice and/or experience people may have to comment about and if you agree that there is still a psychological need that I am correct in addressing or if a more-senior, alpha/boss mare, seasoned-competitor, lesson-horse mind frame character mellows out a horse to this stage more than desired. I keep thinking of the one performer who reached out to Monty about wanting to follow his teachings but was unsure how to do it without a whip for teaching tricks. Monty told him to reach back out to him when he figured it out and Monty would support him. He came back having revolutionized how he taught tricks without a whip and he even acknowledged that all of his horses now do tricks in good spirits and never have their ears backwards as they all had previously with whip training. That is the kind of character-healing I am looking at addressing here. Also note: I am only so far as on the Dually videos of reverse and release.
For my mare's background information:
She's 19 years old now and is very responsive to when I free ride her. We're looking at trying to compete bareback in the local Jumper schooling shows, with a longer-term goal of eventually showing with only a neck rope. She lives full-turnout with her small herd and I mix up different riding (bareback & saddle) and ground work goals so to prevent boredom of predictable routines. She is getting better at backing up on a Monty level as I have spent a solid amount of time desensitizing my mare so she is still distinguishing when I am acting silly and when I actually am telling her something. She does have a few other riders who also work with her on occasion so it's not just me which helps her also have a different experience when I have them come out. We also try to go trail riding off-site regularly and simply take trips like Fox Hunting or Beach Swimming so she is always ready to go on the trailer now.
ANY THOUGHTS, COMMENTS, ADVICE, OR EXPERIENCE WOULD BE HIGHLY APPRECIATED!