I think I was born with the words "want a horse" written on my brain.. in my heart (probably from my ancestor who was a trainer at the Spanish Riding School in Vienna!). However, I lived in Albany, NY and in a house on a lot so wanting and having were two different things.
I took lessons every chance I got. My Grandmother and Grandfather liked horses and lived where I had access to a woman who had been a riding instructor in England. And that is who put me on my first horse... I think I was 3 or 4 maybe...
I did not have a horse until I was 13 and then that horse and I were in a local Pony club and lessons were every Saturday except for July and August when we had lessons two days a week with a paid instructor (we all chipped in and paid someone.. usually very good). My horse was 7-8 when I got him and while not educated, was well ridden and had a lot of miles. He was far from perfect and that horse taught me a LOT (coupled with qualified instruction).
Over the years while I owned and trained horses I STILL would take lessons once in awhile. It never hurts to have other eyes on your riding.
Your 3 year old needs training and mileage of the right sort. You also need training and mileage of the right sort. Your 3 year old needs it with an experienced trainer and you need it with an experienced horse. YES.. it is costly.. but that would be best. After a year of hard work (yours) and the same for your 3 year old (though most three year olds are learning and not worked hard) the two of you can be put together to continue this journey.
Your story, and many like yours that I have heard, allows me to truly appreciate all those years I was horseless and wanting but not getting.. a horse.. but getting lessons instead (and reading anything and everything about training horses).
Now, at this age, I am again horseless.. but this too shall pass and I full expect to be back in the saddle in 5-6 years when I retire. Maybe less if it looks feasible.
PS: I have never met a naturally "stubborn" horse. Most are made that way by too much of the wrong sort of training! :)
There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man. ~Winston Churchill
) Dinosaur Horse Trainer