Horses - Behavior Issues, Breaking and Training/What's with the mixed signals?
I recently got an abused gelding and I'm at the trust stage right now. I've been doing some spook tests on him and he's getting used to my abrupt movement. Just yesterday he tested me by bucking out of nowhere and I failed by jumping back, shouting "Whoa, you scared the crap outta me!", and walking away from him to calm down my heart beat. He followed me and as I talked to him he gave me kisses on my hands and face and let me pet his head even though I've only known him for four days now. I've been reading online and in books about horse behaviour and they all say that horses don't like for people they don't know to pet them on the head, only on the neck, but he prefers the opposite. Could you explain to me what you think is going through his head?
You did not fail. You reacted like anyone would if their horse started bucking. He in fact needs normal reactions. That helps with trust issues. The fact that he followed you and gave you kisses, shows that he trusts and respects you. As for the head versa the neck issue. Pet him wherever the two of you are the most comfortable. If it is the head then do that. You might want to pet him all over just so he knows that all touch is good. He may for a very long time, have a fear of being abused again. But with time, he will get over it. Just continue to do what you are doing.
Please let me know how it goes.