Last year, I rescued an amazing saddlebred paint in his early 20s. While I've ridden for most of my life, I've never owned or trained a horse before. He was a barrel racer in his younger days, and has some bad habits. I'm hoping you all can help me figure out the best tack adjustments to help me retrain this fella so that he learns to relax and smells the roses a little more.
Being a barrel racer, this guy's favorite speed is GO! I can get him into a walk or trot, but he's constantly trying to move into a canter. I've done lots and lots of slow work with him, but as soon as we try to speed things up a little bit, he forgets everything we've worked on, grabs the bit, raises his head and runs! Even when we're just walking-walking-walking, every few steps he's trying to break into a jog or lope. I use the see-saw technique to get him to lower his head in a walk and trot, but when he's cantering, nothing phases him.
I've also tried to keep him engaged by cantering serpentines, circles, direction changes, etc but as soon as my guy gets a chance, we're off to the races again.
I prefer riding english, but I do have a western saddle. I have a snaffle bit on him right now.
Various people have suggested: Using a training fork, getting a martingale, using a tom thumb bit, using a hackamore... I've done my research, but for every person that's said, "This is a great training aide", there's another one saying "Noooo! Don't do it!" I also don't know if I need additional tack for these things (do I need a breast collar to attach a training fork or martingale to?)
So! I'd love to hear what you'd recommend so that I can finally make some progress with this guy.