Miserable or spoiled?
I have a 9-year-old Percheron/TB gelding that was given to me by a friend. She said that he was broke, and she (a very inexperienced rider) would ride him bareback all over the place no problem. The only reason she was giving him to me was because she wanted something with a little more pep, and she thought we would be a good match.
He is a wonderful, big, gentle baby who loves to be loved... but he isn't broke. He'll accept a saddle and let someone sit on him, until he gets scared, then he bolts, and there's nothing you can do to stop him except pray that he won't jump the fence. He's terrified of EVERYTHING. Even things he use to not be afraid of. For instance, the week I got him, I threw a tarp up on him just to see how he'd do, and he just stood there like he wore tarps all the time. Then about a month ago, I brought the tarp out again, and he's terrified of it.
I decided the blame for this was on me, as he's boarded at the rescue I work for, and I tend to spend a lot of time with other chores, and haven't done much with him. So, the past two weeks, we've been finding time to work, even just a little, every day. Slowly but surely we're getting somewhere, but I've started to notice that he's pulling away from me. My happy little gelding who would run to the gate as fast as he could when I called, now turns and runs away when he sees me coming for him. He resists his halter, and if he thinks I'm leading him to the arena, he plants his feet and refuses to move.
We haven't done anything hard. Honestly we haven't. And our sessions are never more than 20-30 minutes at a time. Mostly we've been working with that stupid tarp and getting him to not be afraid of it, but we do different things as well so he won't get bored. And I go out and bring him in for other things too, so he doesn't think every time I come to get him we have to work. Sometimes I'll go out, give him a treat and a hug, and leave him out... just to try to mix things up a bit.
My question is... this recent behavior... is it because I've spoiled him and now he's mad that I'm making him do something? Do I continue to push him to do this work every day? Or does it sound like he's just miserable with what we're doing, and pushing is just going to make it worse?
I'm very bad about babying him, and I'm trying to get better about it, which is why I've let it go on for these few weeks.. but I don't want him to hate being with me. Once I get him broke, I want our rides together to be something he can enjoy as well. Has anyone else had this problem? What kinds of things have you done to make your horses enjoy their work more? Or do you think he's just spoiled, and this is something we need to work through?