"There are no problem horses, just problem riders"
Good rules to live by. Has he been checked for back pain? Have his teeth been floated recently?
Lesson horses can be very difficult. And it gets INCREDIBLY FRUSTRATING. They get a whole bag of tricks of how to get out of actually doing work. Have you voiced your concerns to your instructor? Is there a reason Everyone Else gets to ride with a crop except you?
This horse will make you a better rider. Anyone can ride a push button horse.
I think there are problem horses, and this is one of them. This guy is a pain in the ass. He doesn't stand quietly to be haltered. Every single time I (or anyone else) goes to catch him, he has to play games and run away. He uses the other horse in his paddock as a shield to interfere with whoever is attempting to catch him. Once you do catch him and tie him up for grooming, he constantly wants to paw the ground. If you don't stop him the first time, he really goes to town, and he paws and he stamps, and he leans. In the farrier's words, "That horse is usually a WICKED a**hole."
I mount him and he tries to walk off. I stop him from walking off and he yanks on the reins. I get him walking and he wants to pay attention to anything in the world except for the person on his back. I ask him to trot, and he acts like he doesn't know what I mean. I ask him a little harder, and he explodes into a trot. He cuts the corner in the ring, so I use my leg and rein aids *as instructed*. Then he goes as close as he can to the rail without actually hitting himself.
I cue him into a downward transition with my seat, and he keeps trotting. I back it up with a half-halt, and he trots v-e-r-y-s-l-o-w-l-y but he still trots. I have not before seen a non-gaited horse that can actually trot at a walking pace, but he will do it. I plant my seat more firmly and give the reins a pull. He slows to a walk. I reward by releasing the pressure, and he starts to trot again. And yes, I am CERTAIN that I am not inadvertently asking for a trot with my hands, seat, voice, or legs. I halt him out of the trot, we walk for a few strides, he tries to break into the trot again. I pull him back into a walk, and he walks and then starts cutting the corners/riding the rails again.
As I said, I have used these very aids on other horses at this same barn, and there is no communication breakdown. So I'm definitely speaking horse. And this horse has responded to these aids, too, so he definitely knows what they are for. He just doesn't feel like listening to them after a while, and he doesn't.
I believe the instructor knows this is a problem. God knows, she's spent enough time watching him screw with me like this. She's given feedback about what to do, and I follow it, and it usually works no more than one time - after I get him to cooperate with [insert new use of aids here], he decides he doesn't need to pay attention to that either.
So. We're talking about a horse who has decided that he doesn't need to listen to aids. And a rider who is giving pretty consistent aids, and ramping up the intensity of the aids as instructed, which is having the primary effect of making the problem worse, not better, because the horse is STILL not listening to the aids, and is delivering a bad attitude as well. I'm the first to assume that if the horse is not doing something I want him to, it is because I am not asking properly. On this one, because the other horses DO answer, I am pretty sure I am asking properly, and the horse has just decided for whatever reason that he doesn't need to listen.
I do not ride with a crop because I haven't learned to ride with a crop. I am pretty sure the idea is to use the natural aids effectively first, and then back them up with assistance.
I don't want a push-button horse, but I do want a horse that actually listens
to what I'm asking for, and one that I don't feel like I'm having to fight and argue with constantly. The other horse I've been riding isn't a mind-reader - he actually has a little too much Go and is prone to trying to erupt into a canter from a walk, and he tries to walk off when I'm mounting, and he's pretty particular about how I ask for a trot - if I don't ask properly, he breaks into a little constrained choppy trot, but if I ask properly, he breaks into a nice big bouncy trot.
I'm fine with needing to fine-tune my requests...but when I'm trotting, and I sink in with my seat and take any pressure off with my legs and pull back on the reins, I want that horse to WALK not to keep on trotting until he feels like stopping. Likewise, when I lay on my outside leg and deliver some pull through the inside rein, I want that horse to bend around my inside leg and start to circle...not to throw his outside shoulder out and move sideways into the rail while slowing to a crawl.