I’ve recently started working with a seemingly sweet 13.2hh grade pony mare. She’s in her early teens and she has never had any sort of consistent work done with her but from what her owner has told me she knows the basics, is trained w/t/c and has done some jumping. She’s been off for two years and so I decided to just restart from the ground up. I’ve played with her in the arena and she is responsive and well behaved: moves forward, backs up, picks up her feet, doesn’t invade my personal space at all. She gets a little head strong/excited when I’m leading her back to her stall but nothing bad.
The problem started today when I round penned her for the first time. I had absolutely no intention to do anything but a few minutes of walk because she’s very out of shape. She was being excellent, moved out at a walk when I asked, stayed along the rail. She tried stopping to reach for grass so I applied pressure with the lunge whip and she took a few steps of trot but went back to a walk once I lowered the whip. She did this a few times, each time becoming more reactive to the pressure. (I’d like to add here that the extent of my asking her to move was lifting the whip about a half foot off the ground.)
Normally this wouldn’t bother me but as she got more reactive she started coming into my space (like a little over a meter away from me) and when I asked her to move out she turned and kicked at me with both feet. I got after her for that but she did this several more times, even going as far as to back up towards me pinning her ears and aggressively kicking with both feet. I really got after her then and she completely lost her mind, galloping around like a tiny maniac until I walked out towards her head in an attempt to get her attention. Thankfully this worked and she came back to reality and slowed down. I was glad neither of us were injured but really feel like it was a huge set back.
I’ve had some problems in the roundpen before with other horses but nothing this aggressive. I’m not sure how to respond to this behaviour in a way that won’t make her lose her mind again. I really do like this mare and do think she will make a great little riding horse, I’m just wondering how to get past this problem. Any help and suggestions would be greatly appreciated!