My horse was considered generally "difficult" and "a jerk" in the barn from which I originally bought him, because of these cons:
- He's extremely dominant and pushy;
- Takes advantage of any riding or groundwork flaw a human might present;
- Mouthy and chewy, had a tendency to bite;
- Hard gaits;
- Lethargic when uninterested, many weren't even able to get him to walk without stopping;
- Occasional bolting and bucking in order to get what he wants;
- Because of the mouthiness often destroyed different inventory, opened his stall box, stole objects and foods, etc.;
- Had no respect at all for most of humans.
Sounds like a total monster, doesn't he? :) I somehow still believed in him, worked with him, and this is what turned out of all of his cons -
+ His dominance made me become more strong-willed and more of a leader. He is almost no more pushy around me (still takes advantage of anybody else, if given the chance, though ) and has become a perfect partner - and it appears that he's a one person horse only, which he lacked in the previous barn and thus learned to be ignorant against what all the different people wanted from him.
+ He takes advantage of any human flaws, because he is intensely intelligent and has to have his time with a human interesting and stimulating, therefore, I adjusted to this and learned how to stimulate his active mind with various exercises and now he willingly works with me at liberty, bitless, sadlleless, sometimes bridleless, and happily engages in every new thing I propose.
+ He is mouthy because he loves exploring and learning new things, so I let him do this in a controlled manner - he now knows a handful of mouthy tricks (for example, carrying and handing my whip to me) and I also value his curiosity.
+ Hard gaits were transformed into pleasant with hard training.
+ No more lethargic - he seems to enjoy every second he spends with me and goes around wide awake, playful, full of spunk and sparkles.
+ Discovered, that he bucked when he used to be a lesson horse because of poorly fitted saddle, so this has been resolved. I have experienced a couple of bolting episodes as a sign of dominance, but hey - we're working at it. It just means I have to be just as fast thinking as he is to prevent it.
+ Well, that's just his spunk and sparkles. I don't see it as destruction, rather as exploring and take it as a part of his character that I enjoy. :)
+ All in all, we're just a perfect match. I see his cons only as challenges, not as something completely negative, and I can deal with him, so he is no longer difficult or a jerk, he's just my spunky, mischievous and joful partner. I'd be bored if he was perfect!