My boy, who ordinarily stands like a champ to halter up, has decided in the last week that he doesn't need to halter up, and that he can put his butt to me when I ask. This isn't in the least bit OK, of course, and he gets a good firm flick on the rump from the business end of the lead rope...but he is taking forever to get the point of understanding that the easy thing is standing to halter, and the hard thing is not standing to halter. The last couple of times I've gone to collect him from the paddock it has taken 30+ minutes to get from walking through the gate to walking back out of it again with a horse.
Before anyone jumps me about this, my trainer is on it, and I'm doing what she says I need to, and she thinks that it's not something I'm doing to provoke this, but that it's a combination of spring, weather changes, a pack of mares in the adjacent paddock and some possible totally new herd-bound-ness, and she considers this to be a "phase". So I'm not at a loss about how to deal with it...I'm just...ARGH!! I don't lose my patience or temper at all in the paddock, I'm not really even tempted to...but geez. Why this? It's like he accelerated from being a sweet-tempered 10 yo kid to being a moody and hormonal teenager.
I knew having horses was like having kids, but I didn't really expect this.
Trainer has assured me that my current approach (sending him away as soon as he backs up or starts to turn away, keeping him moving, not letting him stop to hang out with the mares/eat/drink, engaging in some body language that I can only think of as "horse flirting" - passive, making him chase me, etc.) will work if I am 100% consistent with it. Says in her experience, if you're consistent, firm, and patient, the horse will just drop it eventually. I'm sure she's right, and I'm prepared to stick with it.
But DARN IT. I can think of ten more interesting things to do with my horse than muck about in a muddy, icy, freezing paddock persuading him to go into the halter. Argh.
Thanks for the vent. I know I am not alone in this, I know horses do wack stuff from time to time, I know they often test their owners. I just find this much less...interesting...and more...tedious...than other testing that he's done.