When we got my TB last August, we knew that he was cold-backed. His owner was very clear and helpful on the topic, but she hadn't had him for very long and didn't know how far-reaching the habit was (anyone who has seen my previous threads knows his story). Now its been over 8 months since I bought him, and it is still there. He's much better now, and most of the time at home I can mount him with no problem, but when he has his TB hot days, or when we go somewhere new, I need to mount him in a corner so he can't bolt (and then ride out the little bucks that sometimes come as soon as I turn him out and start walking him in a small circle) or have somebody hold him and lead him around for a few seconds after I get on. He always relaxes quickly, but it's just really annoying sometimes, as I've been very patient and progressive in trying to help him to work out of it and sometimes it doesn't seem like I've gotten anywhere.
I've tried different methods of mounting, and have found that he prefers when someone gives me a leg-up as opposed to a mounting block (probably from his days as a Steeplechase horse), but that isn't always possible as I often ride alone. When a leg-up is not an option and he is having a hot day, the best method is to mount him facing a corner, mount him slowly and gently, and then give him a carrot as soon as I get on (which keeps his attention on me and forces him to turn his head to me to get the carrot, helping to relax him somewhat).
I am always gentle when I mount, and his saddles (dressage and jumping) both fit him well. His jumping saddle is a Stubben and was made to fit him, down to special flocking to fit his somewhat asymmetrical shoulders. I use natural horsemanship methods with him, have 'joined up' with him. I have also tried many desensitizing methods, i.e. flapping a saddle pad/tarp all over his back and body until he relaxes, rocking and patting and flapping the saddle before I get on, and those help a little. I don't think trust is the issue...it's like for a minute, when he is having an episode with mounting, he forgets that its me on his back and drops his back and acts like he's scared I'm going to whip him or something. Again, probably from the racehorse days. Like I said he snaps out of it pretty quickly, and it is never an issue if I need to mount him additional times after the first...after that first time, I can stand in the middle of the arena and hop up without even a mounting block and he is fine, as long as he is warmed up. I wouldn't be that concerned, as he is slowly getting better, but sometimes he has a really bad episode and manages to bolt when I am halfway on. He has bucked me off two times this way, and that's when it really gets dangerous. I especially worry when I'm at a show, if he gets me off and goes running around and hurts himself. Not to mention the danger to everyone else there of a loose horse. Plus it is rather embarrassing sometimes when I can't even get on my own horse...
Does anyone have advice? Sorry for the novel...I just wanted to give as much background info as possible to try to avoid all the questions later. Should I just keep being consistent with him and hope he eventually works out of it, or just accept it as a personality quirk? I've seen the ads for massage and magnetic pads and stuff, that claim to help cold-backed horses, and based on how good he is when his back is warmed up, I can see how that would help, but I would like some first-hand information on that before I go off and buy one (they are very expensive!). Please, any and all advice would be greatly appreciated!