Rotten attitude, rotten ride
I've sort of posted about this problem before but I feel like I didn't really get anywhere with it so I'm trying again, with some rephrasing.
Frankly the horse I've been riding recently has been behaving like a little you-know-what. She's a haflinger mare, I think around age 7 or 8, completely broke and normally pretty gentle. A bit shy and spooky, incredibly sensitive to her rider/leg aids.
However, she is EXTREMELY buddy sour. The past two or three rides I've ridden her while my friend was on her buddy, so we were in the same pasture working together. As long as she can see her buddy she's okay and will stop putting up a fight.
The real issue comes when we're riding. We used to have really good rides, she was willing to work and did everything I asked of her. Then I took a 6+ month break from the barn due to other things going on in life and I've started to get back into it, but in that time I took off, her owner didn't do any work with her and I've discovered I've come back to an almost completely different animal.
As soon as I get on her attitude turns rotten. She doesn't want to go forward, she just wants to stop and nudge my foot. I can move her into a walk, but she pulls me every which way and I have a difficult time keeping her straight (something I'm planning on working on hopefully this weekend). After a few times around at a walk, we go into a trot which I can keep productive for probably 5-10 minutes before she gets tired of that game and begins to get mad. She will break the trot, she will try to go whichever direction she wants, and she will create phantom objects in her head to spook at (ex. suddenly one section of the fence will become a frightening mass of splinters that wants to kill her). When she gets really pissed off she stops completely and backs up, dropping her head, which I saw one member on the forum put beautifully as "a horse backing up is basically giving you the finger". I do not tolerate this, I give her a good squeeze/kick, take up the slack and move her forward again. I go into game-mode when she tries this, which of course only irritates her more. The most frustrating part about this is I can't use a crop on her because she is deathly terrified of them. Even the sight of one across the paddock causes her to shy away. I KNOW I can resolve this with a firm tap or two because god knows how many horses have tried to get away with this with me and have been sorted out with just a light tap on the shoulder. But I can't use a crop, so I'm wondering if anybody has any tips on how to stop the acting up/backing up/overall supremely negative-bitchy attitude. When she gets like this she completely ignores my legs and I feel like I'm just barely controlling her, like my control could slip at any moment. I'm not afraid, just irritated and frustrated.
I've checked with the owner, who firmly insists all tack fits and who I believe. No ulcers, my legs aren't on her sides, and she has plenty of rein. No scary objects in the paddock, everything is familiar to her because she spends nearly 24/7 out there. I know she doesn't want to work but she's going to have to get over it, I just don't know how to get her over it. I have been riding for 8-10 years & just recently had a falling out with my trainer. Trainers here are extremely limited so I won't be getting one any time soon. She acts like this both when riding w/ the buddy and when riding without. When she tries to snake out from under me and weave and stop, my seat is pretty solid in the saddle and I sort of just go with her. I'll try and get video the next time I ride. I've thought maybe she's bored and I should take her out on a trail, but when I really get down to it she just doesn't want to work. Plus, if I can't get her under control in the paddock, who knows what could happen out on a trail? She could endanger both herself and me, so I'm not willing to risk it :/
Last edited by Msail; 10-29-2013 at 08:40 PM.