I don't think that I can tell you how to be a better leader because I don't think about myself as a leader concerning horses. In my opinion there are some things that are important for horses to feel comfortable with us but to be a leader in every situation seems to be not so important.
With most horses I have experienced that it is not the human they are uncomfortable with (as long as the human doesn't harm them) but the environment or the situation in which the human leads the horse.
Now I can imagine to different ways to approach environment and situations the horse is uncomfortable with. First, I can learn how to handle a anxious and nervous horse, how I can communicate that everything is fine so that the horse has no reason to be afraid. Second, I can help the horse to handle situations in which it feels uncomfortable.
One thing I established in my mind and in my interaction with horses is that they don't have to stay in an environment or a situation that makes them feel uncomfortable. They are free to go back to where they feel comfortable again. For example when we are on a walk and the horse refuses to go on because it's scared - then I let it turn around and choose where it feels secure again even if this means going back to the herd. The same works for every other place (like the arena) and situation.
This shows the horse that being with me does not mean it gets caught into a situation it cannot get out easily again. It is easier to go through a door into a dark unknown room when the door stays open behind you, only in case something unespected happens
, and I think that is how it's like for our horses. I want the horses to trust me that they are in charge of themselves, not me.
When a horse cannot relax after a scary situation happened then I suppose that it still doesn't feel comfortable with the situation/environment. When this happens in the arena, I would open the gate an let the horse choose where it wants to be, rather than trying to calm the horse down by myself, especially when the horse isn't able to focus on me. After the horse is relaxed again, I ask it to approach the scary object or environment again and I reward the horse for looking at it or moving towards it (even from a long distance). Then it can see for himself that it isn't as scary as it thought before.
It would be interesting to know what kind of things get her to freak out? In which situations does this happen?
And it would be nice if you introduced yourself and your horse in the introduction section
, you seem to have a interesting mare and a great interaction.