Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: New South Wales, Australia
I think with response to leg aids the things is just to work on it, and be consistent. Always start lightly, then go up a stage and then make it unpleasant enough that he moves forward and as soon as he does then release all pressure. Don't ask for fast or better yet, just get forward. If it's halt to walk you're having problems with then practice that, don't go trotting off etc just do it again and again and again always asking softly then get stronger. When you use your aids, make it a quick thing, don't sit their kicking and sighing or clicking. Make it a quick escalation with no pauses and stop giving the aid immediately when he moves.
Have you heard of the one rein stop? It's been around forever and lots of people use it for horses that are running out of control (however it can be dangerous at speed) but it can also be trained as a "shutdown" button in a way. Basically, the theory is that as soon as he would break it to the trot you'd one rein stop him - not even try to argue. Once he has stopped, you release the pressure and continue walking. Might take a little while but he'll get the idea that running off doesn't get him anywhere. I train the one rein stop by asking for flexion on the ground first, getting them to bring their head right to the side. They'll walk in circles for a while but eventually they'll stop and then you release. Do it a while and they'll work out just to turn their heads. Then I do it under saddle at the walk in the arena, again might take a few turns but as soon as they stop I release. They get it pretty quick. Basically you grasp one rein pull it around, no pressure on opposing rein. There is a lot about it online, have a look, might work for you.
I'd also just do walk on trails for a while. Get him understanding that he always has to walk, and once he has that then start introducing deliberate trots.
When I was your age I had some problems with instructors too. Many are good with kids, many are good with adults but few are good at communicating to teenagers. The stuff you need help with not discipline specific. So get any instructor that you think you can learn from, that you get along with and is clear in their instruction. Once you've fixed these problems you can look for discipline specific help.