I realize this post is going to be rather long, so here's a HUGE preemptive thank you to anyone who reads and responds :]
So, meet Demon the quarter horse.
I just started leasing him this week, though I have been riding him for the past few months. He is a very good boy. Definitely a work in progress, but good none the less. He is a gem in the arena, the only problem is that we don't have an arena at the barn. Generally this isn't a problem. We just use a flat part of one of the fields and everything is fine, but that gets a little boring after a while. Plus there aren't any real jumps. If we want to ride in actual arenas it's as simple as a ten minute hack to the Radnor Pony Club Grounds. Or we go out on the trails and do our flatwork (or jumping if there is someone else riding with me) out there. The problem starts towards the tail end of our ride (if we are on the trails) or the hack back from Rador.
I don't really want to say he is barn sour because he is great until we're headed home, but I guess that's the best word for it. I also hesitate to call his behavior truly dangerous, though with an inexperienced rider (not that he's ever ridden by one) it could be an issue. I mostly just find it entirely annoying.
He never tries to take off towards home, but he gets incredibly excited and will prance the entire way back, be it ten minutes or an hour, once he realizes we're headed in a homeward direction. He NEVER tires. Luckily, his body works slower than his mind so it's easy to stay one step ahead of him (which is why I hesitate to call him dangerous), however, half halts either result in a change of gate to a fast walk for a few step or simply the throwing of his head. They're effective to keep him from taking off and for controlling the speed of his trotting/prancing (which I never allow to get any faster than the speed of a walk), but not for stopping him. If you restrict his forward movement too much he'll simply turn his body sideways and trot sideways until you give him room to go forward again. Trying to stop when he gets excited results in sidestepping, spinning, or backing up which are all very dangerous considering a lot of the trails that I have to take to get certain places are next to roads. So that's pretty much out of the question. I've tried circling every time he gets too forward, which merely results in a fight to get him to turn, a reluctant walk as we're doubling back, and twice the energy once we face home again.
I've also tried allowing him to do his thing (though controlled) on the way home, and then going into the field and working him until he calms down. Which does work to get him relaxed, but has done nothing to solve the problem on the way home.
So essentially, I'm out of ideas. I do my best to stay relaxed and calm when he does this (which is fairly easy considering I don't usually find the behavior anything more than annoying) and that really doesn't help. I know my riding isn't always perfect, but I've seen him do this to two other people and my trainer/his owner is aware he does it as well, so it's not just me. Unfortunately, my trainer has a lot of other horses to ride and lessons to teach and he is not her top priority (One of the reasons I'm leasing him. She would like to shape him into a solid, good horse).
So, now that you have all the back story, what I'm asking for is ideas. I'm open to almost all suggestions, so please, suggest away! I'd like to fix this so that our rides home can become a time to relax, enjoy ourselves and cool down after a demanding ride. Again, thanks in advance!! :]