Since some fool thought he could make a WP horse in 30 days and took all kinds of short cuts with the training I would assume that there are some gaping holes in her work. I'd go back to basic ground work and find those and plug them up with good ground training first. Being responsive to verbal cues for all three gaits is a start. "WHOA" is a giant cue that should be so in there that she never, ever thinks about not responding to it. If you have a round pen you can also teach half halts from the ground or cues such as "easy" and less pressure to slow her down a bit. Lots of transitions both up and down so that she knows you have control of both. Work her around other horses (my favorite is to tie several on the outside of the round pen while working one inside...lots of distractions but work on keeping attention focused on me...you can move those horses further away over time so that she is still focused on you). You could then go to ground driving with the same kind of cues but adding in the cues from a bit (probably on a snaffle at this point which works very well for this)...you can stand in the middle of a round pen and lope/canter her on long lines with upward/downward transitions (I use "walk", "trot", "canter" as verbal cues as well as bit pressure if necessary to slow down a little if they get going too wound up). You can do direction changes as well on long lines which tends to slow them.
From the ground you can also teach a "relax" cue. Horses seem to be hardwired to get anxious when their head is raised up and to become more relaxed if it is lowered. This makes sense from a prey animal point of view....they raise their heads to look around and have to be ready to react if they see/smell/hear danger and they lower the head to graze which is an activity you do when you are safe and can relax. So take advantage of this and teach her to lower her head on cue...put a couple of fingers on her poll just behind her ears and lightly (ounces, not pounds of pressure) press downward. Don't increase if she raises her head, just maintain it at the same pressure. Release immediately if she lowers her head even a fraction of an inch. (Ideally your fingers will remain where her head was and she releases the pressure by lowering her head). Be sure to reward her with "attagirls" and some scratches or rubs for being so cooperative. Continue to work this and you can gradually keep your fingers there for a second or two to tell her "further down please"....and keep your fingers where they were when she lowered her head so that when she raises it she runs into them and will lower again...it doesn't take long for them to learn this (it probably feels good to relax and I've seen some almost go to sleep doing this). You can move the point for your fingers back along her neck gradually to the point that you can put your hand on her neck in front of your saddle when riding and have her drop that head and relax under saddle.
Once under saddle and trail riding you can play some games (not the Parelli type games) with other riders to relax her on the trail. Things like "leapfrog" where each horse and rider take turns being the lead, the middle and the last horse in the group by passing others going forward or pulling off and allowing others to pass. Another thing to do if there is open space is to ride out off to the side of the group, even momentarily going out of sight (and gradually increasing the time spent out of sight) and then returning so she learns it is OK to be alone out there and to depend on you for guidance and company and not the herd. In open areas you can, as a group, ride a braided pattern weaving in and out so that horses are in the middle and out on either side of the group and learn to be comfortable anywhere.
I probably wouldn't do game shows with her until she's really settled down a lot. I have a friend who does roping..his horses learn to walk calmly in and out of the box, to stand when the calf gate is clanged open and to walk from the box afterward for probably 6 months before he ever "scores" a cow out of the box and asks his horse to run. He puts an incredibly calm base on them and has been offered $20K for one he didn't even consider a finished horse, largely because of how calm they are...this is something horses have to be taught. (His also do barrels, walk in, do their run, walk out...very impressive).
Hope these suggestions help.
Edited by coloredcowhorse, 19 March 2011 - 09:26 AM.