Alright, so after the fiasco of Monday with Aires getting his feet trimmed, I decided that we need to go back to basics for a little while. This was reiterated to me today after picking out his feet.
To be fair, he wasn't nearly as bad for the farrier this last time as he was the very first time, but he was still not very good. It didn't help that the farrier took almost an hour and a half (not even exaggerating, unfortunately) and it was a different farrier than we usually use. He also hasn't seen the farrier very many times (only about four or so). However, that should not excuse him basically running over me at times.
Anyway, today I went to turn Aires out while I was cleaning his stall, just to give him some free time. On the way out to the turnout, I decided to make him stop to make sure he was paying attention. Well, he kept going for a few steps when I stopped and then got kinda pissy when I asked him to back up and stand still. When we started forward again, he decided to be an idiot and did a little mini rear and bucked, then acted like an arab (head up, tail "flagged," ears perked, prancy). He tried to bolt when we got into the turnout and was ticked when I wouldn't let him go. I made him stand like a gentleman for a minute or so before I would fully take his halter off, then when I finally let him go, he ran a couple of strides and then hardcore bucked AT me. Needless to say, he got chased for a little while.
So, I went to bring him in and he ignored me when I got to the gate, so I went to get him. He was fine leading out and even stood very nicely for the gate to open and let me go first. Up we went to the hitching rails and I tied him up so I could pick out his feet. Here's what I don't understand about his feet. He'll give them to me just fine. I don't have to fight him or lean on him. I run my hand down his leg and gently pull his fetlock and he picks them up for me. He will sometimes try to pull away his front left a couple of times, but then he'll give up and stand there all nice. He's fine with his right front and his right rear. He'll give them to me and won't even fight me at all. However, his left rear he is AWFUL about. He will try to keep it away from me and once I have it in hand, he will try to kick me HARD with it. He did this three times today. My shoulder is still only about 45-50% healed, so I was NOT in a mood to deal with his BS. The first time he tried to kick me, he got a HARD slap on the flank. The second time, he got a close-fisted punch on the flank. The third, and hardest, time he tried to kick me, I will admit that I hauled off and kicked him back. Maybe not the best solution, but he got the point and gave me his hoof without complaint. I finished picking out his feet, but by the time I was done, I was almost in tears because my shoulder hurt so badly.
So, now we're going back to basics. He knows how to behave, he is just testing his limits. Now, persuasion doesn't really work with Aires. If he doesn't want to do something, he doesn't. If I correct him by making him back up, he'll back up about three or four steps and then just plant his feet. No amount of shanking, pushing on his chest (with hand or carrot stick or whip), or shaking the lead rope will get him to move further. So, we'll go into disengaging the hindquarters, which he will do until the cows come home if you ask him to. Then back to backing up.
So, I've decided that I need to carry something to back up my "threats." I have a crop, a dressage whip and a lunge whip. I'm thinking carrying the dressage whip will be better, yes? It gives me more extension to my arm and I can reach his hindquarters if I need to.
We will probably work exclusively on ground work and manners for at least a week, so I am also looking for games and such to do with him to keep him interested. We will be going for trail walks, like we used to, but I want some arena games we can do as well. I'm definitely going to teach him to lunge on the line (we free lunge right now...when I put him on a lunge line, he thinks that because he's attached to me, he needs to be right next to me...we're gonna work on that), and then we'll do some lunging over trot poles, for sure. Would it be too much for him to get him to trot over a small (6" or so) crossrail? Only one and just to keep his mind occupied and listening to me. My friend used to lunge her mare in the arena and would set up two of the 55gal drums so that she had to trot (or canter) between the two of them. Maybe do something like that? Any other ideas?
Also, because he has such issues with backing up, what's the most effective way to teach him to back up? I taught my old gelding to back with just slight pressure from my hand on his chest and the word "back" until I said "ho" to get him to stop, but he was much more willing to give to pressure than Aires is. What's funny is that you can push one finger into Aires' hip when he's standing and say "step" and he'll move over until you take your finger away. Going back, however, is like trying to move a freight train from a dead stand-still.