Originally Posted by Klassic Superstar View Post
When I halt him in order to not get in a fight that's when I just flex him side from side till he his soft and start over again, my approach is to not make a huge fuss when he makes a huge fuss and then flex both sides and walk on like it didn't happen.
I think you are doing mostly the right things, from the sounds of it. It is a hard line to walk (and also, difficult to interpret from text and no video), being a 'kind' rider in order to make a successful and HAPPY horse, and, balancing the role of 'herd leader'.
I like the oats as a reward, that will certainly keep him happy. Horses ARE food motivated, after all! But, it sounds like you either need to break down what you are asking your horse into smaller steps, so that you have greater opportunity for reward, and, be prepared to be firm when he misbehaves.
Just because he came with baggage, and a bad home, it doesn't mean he can be nasty towards you.
It's like parenting. You can't tell your kids YES all the time. You will have to tell them no, sometimes. If you kid doesn't cry/fight what you are doing sometime, then, you are letting him get away with everything. There will be times when your horse fights you (tossing head, etc.). I know you don't want to be 'mean'. But, you need to make him uncomfortable if he does this towards YOU.
I understand what you are trying to accomplish with the stopping/bending exercise, but, is your horse enjoying it to much? I realize you aren't stopping and rubbing him and giving him oats, but, if he is relaxing, then, he is probably enjoying it to some degree. At least, it is more enjoyable than working on the bit. And, if he is misbehaving, and then you do something enjoyable with him...that isn't going to make the misbehavior go away.
So, you need to find something LESS enjoyable to do with him, that will move him in the right direction. Even if that is MORE contact, more leg.
I'm anxious to hear how you get through this. I'm sure you will. And, it would be great to see video! I'm sure you have a friend with a smartphone (or use yours) to do a quick video