Join Date: May 2011
Location: Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
If this was my horse, I'd go right back to basics. Pretend he doesn't know anything and start fresh. There may be some holes in his ground work and now that he's well fed and feeling good, he has more energy to test you. Show him that you're the boss and his life will be easy if he respects you. If he doesn't respect you, show him that you can make his life a living hell. I know it sounds mean and cruel, but that's how it works in a herd and that's what horses understand.
Take him into a round pen and lunge him. I prefer free lunging myself, just because it gives the horse the total choice. Jog him around and around, burn off some energy and let him make the decision to accept you as his herd. You'll be able to see him thinking about it by the flicking ears. When he turns an ear to you and begins licking, you'll know he's really, truly considering your offer. When his head drops, he's completely focused on you, he's licking and you can feel him asking to come in, turn your body 45 degrees away from him and look at the ground. Wait and he'll come to you. If he begins coming your way, but stops part ways, send him away again. Keep doing this until he touches his nose to your shoulder. This is when he's accepted you as his herd, and the learning can begin.
I know it seems hokey, but I did this with my young gelding and it worked extremely well. We'd reached a wall with training and I could see that he was always thinking about testing me and trying to step into a dominant role. He stopped listening, started pretending to spook at silly things and was generally a brat to be around. All it took was 20 minutes in the round pen, with me driving him around in circles at a medium jog, and he was asking to come to me. After that, he followed me around and showed signs that he trusted me to keep him safe. He accepted ground training easily after that, stopped attempting to nip and was a dream to work around. He had developed a high level of respect for me, and all his vices just went away.