How Come He Won't MOVE With Leg Pressure!
I'm training a horse for a friend, but he's a bit green. My friend plans to use him in the summer for lessons and this camp she's running, but this horse, Geo, is very spooky and has a few...*problems*. You see, he has a 'good way' and a 'bad way'. When we enter the arena, we go to the right most of the time. I ride him around a bit, do a few circles, get him bending and supple. We walk, trot, canter, and to a few figure-8s and stuff. He responds to leg pressure very well this way, and if I wanted to, I could drop the reins and just control him with my legs and/or voice.
But then I turn him around and it's almost as if he forgets EVERYTHING. He'll walk away from the rail and not respond to leg pressure at ALL. He'll be straight as a stick and not bend, and he'll jump to the side if he hears so much as a door creaking in the wind or snow sliding off the roof (we have an indoor arena). I can walk him and he'll be ok, but I have to keep his reins a LOT tighter than normal. I can trot him around, and after a bit he'll be ok, but it takes a bit of effort. And then I ask Geo for a canter.
Geo's canter when going this way is a WRECK. When I ask him, I turn his head to the rail and kick him (gently!) with my inside leg. He usually takes up the wrong lead, unless we're coming out of or going into a corner. This is very frustrating! Once I get him to get the right lead, his canter is fast and controllable. I lift weights, and he's STILL got so much resistance on the bit that I can't bring him down to a slower canter. He canters sideways, with his head against the rail and his butt sticking into the middle of the arena. His circles are messy, and I don't put any wrong resistance. I turn him in a circle the best I can, but his sideways-ness messes the circles up.
Geo is 8 years old, and has had 4-5 years of off-and-on training. He learns quickly and is like a big puppy dog. He has a really good memory, but when he canters that way (see above for details), it's almost like he's forgotten everything he's ever been taught. His trainers (including me) have all worked together to make sure he's not being trained different ways. He's a bit spooky, and is sometimes more spooky than normal. But I can get him calmed down and un-spooky-ish if I walk him around the arena a few times.
Could someone try and help me by giving me advice on how to handle this? I've been working with him for three or four weeks now, and I've only improved his 'good way' canter by slowing it down and rounding out the circles and closing distance between the rail and him. Please, please, PLEASE help me! I have to have him 'finished' enough for partially-experienced 8-12 year olds to ride him in lessons and camps this summer, so I don't have as much time as I want. Please help!
"Shoot for the moon; even if you miss, you'll be among the stars." Greetings from Sunny D, Majesty, Rosie, and the rest of the RESPECT barn!