So I recently started riding with my friend at her barn where they have this beautiful black and white paint mare named China. She's the sweetest horse in the world, but no one but me likes riding her. She's got a few quirks from her last rider that have made her very difficult to ride. When doing flat work, the first few minutes she'll be pretty excited and you have to slowly give her the reins, if you start out with loose reins she'll bolt, but if you keep them tight the whole time, she'll never relax. So I figured out how to keep her nice on the flat, I just keep relaxed, sit deep in the saddle and ease up on the reins when I feel her starting to calm down. After five minutes, I can ride with normal contact (havent tried pleasure reins past walking) with cantering, you have to canter a lap collected so she knows you want her slow before you can give her the reins.
When she gets near a jump, even if she's not jumping, she gets excited and speeds up and her head shoots up. If you jump her without really holding her head and sitting back as much as you can, she'll take off like a bullet. And that's REALLY not an exaggeration. She will launch herself at full gallop if she feels the slightest release. At first, I thought maybe it was because I was collecting her so much and it was making her pissy, but she's sooo much worse if you ride with a normal rein. And sometimes she'll over jump then dig her head down and take off afterwards.
I've only ridden her three times (twice at shows and once at an interschool practice) and from what I've heard she's never been properly taught how to jump. She was a team penning horse, then whoever bought her would run her at jumps to get her over them, and her most recent rider would tighten the reins as much as possible, and dig her legs into her before a jump. (apparently she wasn't too bad until the last rider, who, so I'm told, totally screwed her up)
I was thinking she needs to just start from the beginning, like pole work and all that. But she's not my horse and I'll probably only be able to do actual jumps with her. The last time I rode her, I practiced going over a jump and stopping and ended the 'lesson' when she stopped when I told her to. But when I had to do a course (it was at a show) she was fine for some lines, but at the very end, she dug her head down and took off for my hunter circle.
Any advice on how to help her? By the end of each ride on her, she shows improvement and the BO thinks all she needs is a good rider, and says I ride her better than most people, but I could really use some other opinions. She's a nice horse with a lot of potential, but is seriously screwed up.
Thanks if you read it all :)
Just some pictures of the beastie: