That should be a fairly straight-forward question, right? So why am I having so much trouble with it?
As you guys may be tired of hearing, I have a 4 month old colt that I am trying to train. I imprinted him at birth. Maybe that was the wrong thing to do in hindsight, but I can't undo it now.
So the thing is I can get him to do just about anything I want, but he has attitude doing it. For instance, he leads, ties, ponies, picks up his feet, trailer loads, etc.
But, when he ponies, he tries to bite and climb on the horse I'm riding. When I lead him, he can get prancy, rushes ahead, tries to nip, occasionally rears, etc. He doesn't do those things non-stop, but he will try several of those things in a leading session. I do carry a dressage whip and correct him when he does those things. But it seems like I am constantly correcting. So that gets me really discouraged and depressed. If he doesn't respect me now, how will he ever respect me when he's a 2 yr old?
Today, towards dinner time, when I gave him his creep feed, I practiced going in there and making a kissing sound (his cue to move his feet) and "claimed" the feeder. I basically made myself the dominant horse by kissing and making him back away from the feeder and stay away until I let him come back. He did that willingly several times, never pinned his ears or gave me a dirty look or anything. It LOOKS like he respects me in that situation. He even seemed to give up and went to the other end of the pen and stood there without trying to get back to the feed.
So do I have his respect or not? How can he be so good with that, and still be a bugger to pony and lead? I don't know if I am expecting too much, or not enough. Or if things will only get worse. Raising this foal is one thing I do NOT want to fail at, because it will be bad for both of us. It is my lifelong dream. And he has a deformed leg, so it's not like there are people lined up wanting to give him a good home. I so don't want to fail at this.
Sorry for posting again, but I just need to talk to someone. I would leave him alone for a while, but I'm afraid he will get worse instead of better. I try so hard, and yet I still feel like I am failing. How can one try so hard, and yet fail so miserably? I work with him almost every day. I have owned horses for 15 years (trail riding, a variety of breeds, often alone) but this is my first foal. Are they THAT hard to raise? Can someone devote their life to horses, spend time with them every day, read and watch everything I can get my hands on, and STILL not be able to train a foal?
I know there really isn't an answer I guess, but I just need to get this off my chest. I have loved horses since I was 5. I'm 34 now. How can this be THAT hard to accomplish?