Well, she doesn’t hate everyone, but she would prefer that people leave her alone. At least that’s how she was when I got her. Heidi is my first mare and everyone told me to prepare myself. My gelding is the most lovable, affectionate horse that ever lived. He is attached to me in a codependent way. Heidi, not so much.
For the first couple days, Heidi allowed me to be affectionate with her. I think she was looking for a friend. Once she integrated into the herd, she didn’t need me anymore. She would pin her ears at me when I approached and she made it clear that she tolerated being groomed, but she did not enjoy it. She would resist everything from being brushed to picking up her feet. She absolutely did not want to be hugged and loved on, thank you very much.
So I honored her wish to be left alone for the most part. I did go catch her in the pasture, but I didn’t make a big fuss over her. I kept it all business. I did what needed to be done as far as grooming, lunging and feeding, but I wasn’t as affectionate as I normally am with my horses.
I’ve had her for a month and a half now and I’ve seen a big change. Slowly she allowed me to be more loving with her, to pet her and hug her neck and give her poll rubs and wither scratches. She quit pinning her ears at me when I came into the pasture. Now, I realize a huge part of this is that I’m the one who feeds her. She’s realizing that when The Woman shows up, buckets get filled with food so, instead of pinning her ears, she meets me at the gate to be brought in for her dinner.
The second thing that helped her warm up to me is our routine. I do the same thing with her every day. She knows what to expect and she finds security in knowing what’s going to happen. I bring her in to the barn where she eats hay while I groom her. Then she works out- either lunging or a long walk in the woods (in hand, not ridden). Once her workout is done, she cools down and then she gets her dinner, which is just a small portion of sweet feed. She’s pastured on 20 acres of grass, and she’s fat, so she doesn’t need much.
I think she’s learning that I’m not going to hurt her, I’m not asking her to do anything crazy, and I always have dinner and treats. I’m not all that bad as far as humans go. Does she love me? No, I don’t think so, definitely not like my gelding loves me. But she does derive a measure of security from me and she tolerates me. She seems to enjoy being groomed and she lets me be affectionate with her. I noticed she still pins her ears at strangers who try to touch her. She doesn’t do that with me anymore. I guess we’re friends now!