I thought I had bottomless patience with horses, but I found out where the bottom of my barrel is today.
I've been riding this challenging lesson horse (challenging, because he has bad manners and is easily bored, and has an unusually broad selection of Horrible Lesson Horse tricks). I've been riding him all summer, and about 8 lessons ago, he became too much of a PITA for words. He races to the barn. He pokes away from it. He cuts corners, he started trying to run my leg into the rail. He doesn't listen to aids. If I lay a leg on to help steer him, he tries to escalate his speed to avoid the aid, and that includes spontaneously erupting into a trot from a walk (WITHOUT being requested for a trot). If I give him a half-halt, he throws his head up and keeps going to avoid the reins. He runs through his trot. At the gate, he throws his shoulder out, rubbers his neck, and will come to a complete stop with my knee on the rail.
The more you ask of this horse, the more he acts up. He was great when I was just learning some basics, but as soon as we got into something a little more advanced, he became as amusing to deal with as a cranky three year old who missed his nap and is melting down in the middle of the grocery store. I was REALLY glad when I got put on a different lesson horse last month...because that other guy LISTENS when I ask him to do something. I lay a leg on gently, and he moves. I ask him for a walk with my seat, I don't even need to use the reins. I direct him closer to the rail with my inside leg and my outside rein, he goes there. I squeeze him lightly and he trots. He flipping well pays attention.
Lesson Hell Horse, on the other hand, I ask him for ANYTHING and the only response I get is a freaking ARGUMENT. He pokes along, I boot him (because he's not listening to any request that is quieter or more polite than a direct bootheel to the ribs), and he shoots me an angry look. He runs through the trot, the instructor is telling me to give him a half-halt, and I'm laughing because I tried a half-halt AGES ago and he ignored it, and I'm so far beyond half-halting that I feel like I might as well be pulling an anchor up from the bottom of the ocean, I'm using that much muscle on his mouth - and his main response is to toss his head up and get crabby.
No, he doesn't behave like this with EVERYONE - I checked - but I also am pretty sure that the difference between me and Everyone Else is that Everyone Else can ride with a whip. I can't think what else is left. Nothing else I've tried gets his attention - unless it is to provoke him to worse and worse behavior. He's not doing anything actively dangerous - not bucking or rearing - but he's not at all fun, and he is 100% frustrating.
I feel like he's making me a bad rider. I want to learn to ride lightly. I do not want to learn to kick the crap out of a horse to make him move. I do not want to learn to haul hard on a horse's mouth. I do not want to feel like I have to constantly be anticipating the next bout of bad behavior and trying to figure out some way to head it off at the pass. I was TOTALLY bummed today when I found out I was going to have to ride him, because I don't feel like I get anything - other than experience at fighting with a horse - from riding him.
I am so frustrated with this fleabag. I hate to think that there's some horse I just can't ride, but I also feel like I just wasted a lesson. I think I'm going to have to tell the teacher that I don't want to ride him again, because we're pretty much going nowhere. When I was on the other guy, I was getting ready to canter. This stubborn jackass just took me back to square one instead.