One thing to do, especially with babies, is to blow lightly in their noses. Horses, similar to dogs, sniff each other. But instead of sniffing booty, they smell reach others breath. This is very effective when they are young, and comforting for adults.
Another thing to do is just spend time with them rubbing their shoulders, and brushing them:
- Here is a list of hot spots:
- between the jaw bones
- sometimes the butt (wouldn't try this with older horses because this can be viewed as disrespectful and earn you a kick)
And the best thing to do with your wilder kids is just to sit on the ground (preferably poo free) and just sit there and enjoy the day. Mini's with little human interaction feel less threatened when you are as small as they are. They will approach you from behind (where you are not facing them because a mini that is trying to be respectful will approach form an angle where they would be eye to eye) and smell your back. The more they see you like this the more they will get used to you. Eventually they will bump you with their nose to see if you jump up and attack. At some point, and never push it, hold your hand out (don't make eye contact) and let them smell and touch you. You can eventually try to touch the nose and one day try to make it to the first hot scratch spot. Once you can touch the chest, moving very slowly, and you make them make that OHH!Ohh! face you got them hocked. After that you can start to work on them getting used to you standing and touching by scratching first and slowly standing up.
Just spend time with them like you would your children. They are animals that will bond with anything to not be alone. But keep in mind that if a horse is timid from not being around humans much, we look like monsters. It will take TIME.
We bought a stallion from an action and he was abused and terrified. We had him for 8 years before he passed and I got him to the point of, when there was a fence between us, he would fallow and touch my fingers when I reached over. But when I was in the same pin as him he would let me get almost to toughing distance. He wasn't bad, and he had issues, but he tried his hardest and he wanted to be like all the other horses. I still had to corner him to get a lead rope on him, but he would walk with me just fine, take baths, tim his feet, and liked to be brushed. But that did not change the fact that he would flinch, shy away, or try to turn around and look at me so he know what was always going on. He was minutely broken and trying to put himself back together as much as I was, and thats as far as I got him in 8 years.
Granted not all timid horses are like this, but they do need time to see you are not a monster or in some cases the enemy. It can take months to turn fearful behavior around. I find that when mini's turn about 2 in the heard, the ones who weren't your best buddy at birth, start to get curious about what we are. At age 2 they are a lot more teen like. They get attitudes and a false since of invincibility that they try to pester "monsters" and other animals. When these guys turn 2 they also start to see what their friends are into and the heard say is "cool". So not wanting to be left out when all their friends are hanging out with you they start approaching you from behind and trying to interact on their frightened turms.