I have a 6yr old APHA Gelding that I purchased from his original owner on March 1st. He was gelded 2 months ago, previously has been bred his whole life. He was never out with other horses always alone. He was hand bred to boot. So even when he was bred no social interactions He had been started under saddle last fall and then the previous owner was hurt badly let him sit all winter and cannot finish him so she sold him. He probably is the smartest horse I have ever owned and I have had quite a few over the years. I use to barrel race and team pen but now I am just a trail rider. He picks things up good or bad with in the matter of minutes. He is no dummy and he knows how big he is and strong he is. While working him on the ground I can get this horse to do anything, he responds exceptionally well to all verabal commands. I even managed to teach him to bow in the matter of about an hour. He has trust built in me as we do trust building exercises every time he gets worked. He will engage me if there are no other horses around. I can ride him bare back in the indoor arena and he is moving well off of leg cues. He is very green and didnt know crap when I got him.
He is still very soft in the body when we are working on the ground, but I step onto his back and ask the same exact things and he fights me. He is not soft in the front, neck, shoulders, back end nothing. Its a complete 360 from what he is on the ground. I don't want to rush him because I know this is a huge transition for him in his life at this point, new home, new owner, new place, new things, hormone issues, etc etc. I just want him to soften up a bit and I can't get him to do it.
I took him out on a trail ride with a few other well mannered horses two weeks ago and he did well, acted a bit studdish but it was corrected immediately and he understood. This past weekend I took him out with about 20 other people and their horses and holy cow!! I had nothing, I was a passenger along for the ride, and a really scary one to boot!! He was running through the bit (D ring snaffle) raring, being a complete jerk. He was not responding to me at all. Not only was he not soft he was not responsive. I took a step back and looked at things. Maybe he wasnt ready. It seemed as though he reverted right back to his "wild" side.
My questions are this:
How do you think the lack of socialization plays a role in this if any?
Is there something more I can be doing with my ground work to lay a better foundation for these kinds of situations? (currently we: lunge, engage shoulders, engage hind end, flexion exercises, backing, driving under bit to learn commands, walking over tarps, desensitizing, just hang out and "play" trick training, etc etc)
Do you think that it could just be the hormones are not out of him yet?
* If so how much longer do you think it will be?
Did he get too late of a start with his riding at 5 yrs old? (I have had 3 yr olds and they were not this bad!!) Is it too little too late for this guy? Because of his past will he not come back around.
I know people ride studs and stallions everyday so it has to be something I am missing or doing to cause this reaction, I don't think I am an expert rider or trainer but I have been working horses and training barrel horses for a long time. He might as well be a stud at this point because that's the way he is acting, and I have no experience working studs!
My biggest fear at this time is I am going to do something that is going to impact him in a negative manner for the rest of his life. I don't want to break his spirit so to speak but I am not going to let a 1200lb horse push me around and get to the point where he is completely dangerous to me, himself, and others around me!