Mustang previously trained for vaulting
So, we acquired this 18 y/o wild caught Mustang gelding six months ago who's owner is recently deceased & hadn't ridden him for 2-3 years. We knew little about his training history, but he's a real sweet heart and seemed to be well trained. His ground manners are exceptional, he's calm, lunges beautifully, ties, stands, trailers, etc. In the saddle he bends, backs, disengages, and turns on a *dime* with the tiniest aid. He moves well off of leg pressure, half passes, etc. I can pull him down to the sweetest little jog, while other horses pass him up walking.
We *love* this horse, so what's the problem?
He *GOES!*, LOL. As soon as he is mounted, he will take off loping. It is not fear or discomfort that makes him do this, he just likes to run & has a blast doing it. We spent a couple of months trying to train him to walk, and stay in that gear. He will *not* do it. Yes, we lunge him before riding and can get him to walk in the round pen. Out on the trail, I can let him lope for 3-400 yards and when I stop him I can't even tell that he's breathing. Same in the arena, around & around 15 times & he isn't even warmed up.
A couple of weeks ago, a woman stopped by the ranch and recognized him. She said that his previous owner used him for vaulting and similar gymnastic activities. Ok, now we know why he will lope forever, that was his job. He's a pleasure horse now, and we just can't figure out how to get him to give it up.
His only "vice" is that he lopes without being "asked" to, and it takes a loooong time to stop him (like, 8-10 strides, 50 feet or more), even when trotting. I've spent a LOT of time with him, walk/stop, walk/stop/back. I "reward" him by letting him lope a little. On the ground, he will stop *instantaneously*, mid-stride.
I only have 2 years riding experience, but am under direction of a life-long horsewoman, who's ranch he is stabled at. She doesn't have vaulting experience and this horse is my "project" so I gotta figure it out on my own.
I ride him in a loose ring broken snaffle bit & western pleasure saddle. At first, it doesn't take a lot of pressure to control him, but as the ride continues it takes more & more pressure until he is just pushing right through the bit, even when collected. I do release pressure when he responds, but the *instant* pressure is released he starts loping. Too much pressure and he will "blow out". He responds to a one-rein stop the same way.