Brett tacked up Mufasa, went into the arena, mounted and rode over to Mark. After listening to Mufasa's history of being head shy and having difficulty trusting, Mark suggested taking off the tack and working in the round pen. He wanted to see how Mufasa reacts to strangers and felt that if they could work through the trust issues, the rest would fall into place. We got the tack off, and then Mufasa ducked out of the halter; heading over to a patch of grass to eat. In typical Mufasa fashion, he didn't run from Brett but eyed him with a bit of trepidation stepping a few steps away each time Brett approached. Others walked over to help and that pushed Mufasa over the edge. He left, running down the track that runs around the barn. Brett went one way and I went the other -- Mufasa, realizing he was trapped between us, ran into an open paddock. Mark walked over and worked with Mufasa in the paddock.
Mufasa wasn't being "bad." Mufasa was scared. He was running like a deer -- bounding with his tail in the air. Mark said Mufasa was so bunched up with fear that he couldn't think and he wasn't breathing.
Mark explained the four phases of fear in horses.
1. The horse goes on high alert; prepares to flee.
3. Flight (run as fast as you can)
4. Relax and shake it off.
Mufasa was stuck between 2 & 3. Until we could teach Mufasa how to reach level 4, the issue would never be resolved. Brett would make some progess, as he has, and would be able to halter him and ride but Mufasa would always have that bunched up ball of fear. He'd never be able to relax into his work.
Mark spent an hour with Mufasa, teaching him to stay and trust instead of fleeing. By the end, Mufasa was allowing Mark to walk around him, even on the scary right side. It took a full hour for Mufasa to reach the point where he relaxed and shook.
It was a huge breakthrough for Mufasa -- and a huge breakthrough for us. Brett worked with Mufasa a bit at the end; getting the same results.
Mark and I followed as Brett walked Mufasa back to his stall. Mark shook his head. "It's so nice to see Mufasa walk relaxed next to Brett. He's a nice horse; it's a shame someone messed him up."