Thanks for all the great advise.
I would talk to her parents about psychiatric help, I'm betting there is something much deeper going on with her than what you can see to cause these issues.
I feel this is probably true and I would like to suggest this to them, but I don't know how comfortable I am suggesting to parents that I think their kid needs therapy.
I would protect the mare and call the sheriff.
I don't think this is a solution – it would just alienate the parents and they would just move the horse, and then I would not be able to help. And there is nothing authorities could do the laws are not strict enough in my area to protect a horse from this type of abuse (it would need to be severely bloodied and/or damaged before the law would step in).
I think making the daughter do some physical labor as a result of her actions
Actually she would enjoy that so it would not make a very good punishment. She likes helping out at the barn – often she will clean stalls or tack for me while she waits for her parents, and she helps with painting jumps, putting up hay, grooming horses, etc. Like I said under normal circumstances she is a pretty good kid. The “please and thank-you” sort of kid. Which is why I agree with many who had responded that this is not a bad kid issue – but a kid with a problem.
I have worked with lots of students who disciplined their horses too harshly or not harshly enough. Learning when to correct and when not to is just par for the course when teaching horsemanship. But in the past I have never had a student get angry with their horse (perhaps I have just been lucky). I teach to never correct an animal in anger. It is the anger I am at a loss with because I can't reason with that. Because the kid feels remorse I know that she “knows” better – she is a different person when she gets frustrated (I feel I can see her mentally check out when she gets angry).
while anger can not be avoided
This may be another reason why I am having a hard time relating to her because I can honestly say I do not remember a time in my life that I have ever been mad at an animal (lots of people yes – but never an animal) – I figure being mad at an animal for not doing what you want is about as productive as being mad at the sky for being blue. Perhaps I need to find someone who could relate to her problem more to help her.
Typically those who call their horses crazy/stupid are call that themselves.
Actually I her parents did tell me that she had had “some trouble” with other girls at her last barn and that she has some self esteem issues. I think she may have a bit of a learning problem when it comes to taking oral direction. She comes off as being a bit slow and spacy – but she is actually quite bright (she can memorize a jump pattern in just a couple of minutes and has excellent grades). But if you try to explain something verbally to her it just goes over her head. I believe the coach she had before me would loose patience with her a lot and was quite harsh with her (which is why they begged to come to my barn – even though I told them jumping is not my specialty). I have gotten into the practice of writing down the information we cover in lessons so that she can read the material. I discovered this trick after sending her an email explaining long and low to her and telling her that I wanted her to work on it with her horse while I was away. The next lesson I was surprised to find out she actually understood and retained the information – so I now send her articles to read all the time.
What I really need is to know how to deal with her when she is angry – and you all have given me some good advice so far. I can teach her all I want about proper horse discipline but if it all goes out the window when she is in a rage it will do no good.
I am NOT a disciplinarian – I am a person who avoids conflict at all costs – so this is a tough one for me. I live my life in my happy little bubble so I will freely admit that I am also just a bit put out that I have to deal with someone else's problems and, if not for the horse, I would probably just wash my hands of the whole mess (I am no saint and I don't pretend to be).
Beating the horse in the face with reins (repeatedly for an extended time) while in its stall after a disappointing ride.
Please describe what you are calling abuse
This has been going on for 8 months and the OP has yet to talk to the parents ??
Like I said before this is the first time I have caught her out right beat the horse. Up until now it has just been what I can best describe as “angry riding” - aggressive aids, jerking the reins very hard, etc. - not necessarily abuse – but something that will eventually sour the horse. I have spent eight months trying to get through to her – it just took this incident to open my eyes that I may be dealing with a bigger problem. And I definitely should have said something to the parents before now ... I will refer back to the part where I admit to avoiding conflict at all cost. ;)