Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: Southeastern US
• Horses: 0
What you are describing is pretty common for horses. First of all, he sounds buddy sour, meaning that he looks to another horse for his confidence on the trails and when that buddy is missing, he gets very nervous and wants to hustle back to the comfort of his buddies and the barn, etc. Secondly, definitely sounds like he is ring sour, in that he doesn't want to work in the ring. I can't say I blame horses for being ring sour, as riding around in a circle can seem pretty pointless! But both of these things are really pretty easy fixes.
When you try to ride him out by himself, and he starts pitching a fit, direct his energy. If he gets to a spot where he wants to stop and won't move forward, then work him in circles in that spot. Take a riding crop if you need to urge him forward, and work his little hiney for a bit and get him huffing and puffing, allow him to walk forward in the direction YOU want to go. If he goes a few feet, great...if he starts acting up again, immediately put him back on a circle and ask him to work again. Ask for more forward movement in your intended direction...offer him a better deal by going where you want to go. Make going where you want to go easy, and where he wants to go harder. NEVER EVER let a barn sour horse hurry home. When he gets to prancing and jigging, move those feet with purpose. Ask him for circles, serptentines, etc. When he's moved some ask him to walk again. As long as he is walking calmly let him...but move him with purpose (and not directly back to the barn) until he calms down. He's going to resist, and you've got to be prepared for that. Do not get off unless you feel like you are in danger. Getting off will let him "win" the battle. No battle is worth getting hurt over, though, so be careful. And when you do get back to the barn, NEVER let that be "it." A barn sour horse wants to go to the barn so work can be done. I always work my horses when I get back to the barn or I at least leave them tied with their tack on for some time. The last thing you want to do is go right back home, groom him, give him a treat, and let him out!
Same thing with the buddy sour issue...just use that negative energy to ask him to move. Keep your rides short at first. The first few times it may take 2 hours to go half a mile, but set your goal, and get there. Bottom line is, he goes where you want, things are easier. He wants to do his thing, it has to be WORK. Horses are intrinsically lazy creatures as soon as he catches on, he'll change quickly.
As for the ring sour thing...try not to overdo it in the ring. Make ring work fun and interesting for him. Add obstacles and don't just ride around in circles all the time. Engage his mind. Never get off of him at the same place every time. Never ride through the gate. When he goes to pitch his fit in front of the gate, drive him forward with purpose and ask him to do something significant. Do that every time 40 times if you have to. The first time he walks by the gate with no problem, praise him but keep moving. Make things easier for him when he does that.
Hope this helps a little!