New owner, need help!
I have a new 13 yr old gelding. He's been with me for 2 months. I bought him for his superb temperment, calm, quiet demeanor and he was appropriate for an advanced beginner. He was most recently used in lessons for kids and adults. He's been at his new home for 2 months and adapted very well. He is (well, was) always a dream to ride. Point and go, easy to steer (basically turn with your eyes and he goes). He's field boarded (he was before) and recently barefoot after a bad shoe job. (no signs of soreness that we can see). In the last 2 months he has been easy to ride, except for at times, wanting to return back toward gate in the ring to rest. I am continuing my own lessons on him - my trainer comes to me, and we've had several great lessons w/t/c and he did great.
Over the last week I changed his feed to a more complete feed - he was on pellets and sweet feed but is a hard keeper. At the same time, coincedence or not?!....he has become stubborn, resistant about 75% of the time. I say this because on the ground and when being led, he is 99% perfect. He lunges, leads nicely...he is the horse I bought.
My problems are occurring when I ask him to go from walk to trot. I've been trained "squeeze, then cluck, then spank" with crop or my dressage whip. We warm up at the walk for a few minutes. He is slow and pokey, but fine. I ask for trot. He trots a few strides or slows down, I squeeze and cluck again, he STOPS. Pins ears, swishes tail and when I use my crop, he is now doing a little kick. I can't tell if he is trying to buck - it feels more like a lame attempt at kicking back (at what?!). He did this Tuesday and my trainer showed up and asked me to replicate it so she could see. The little stinker trotted and moved forward beautifully. NO issues.
He is also acting up badly when we try to ride to the field behind our barn to work hills. About 3/4 of the way there, he turns around, won't go forward, braces, pulls...we one-rein stop, side flex, back up, yield hindquarters...try forward and he gets more and more agitated. He isn't spooky at ALL. I've tried taking him out with another horse and he resisted the same way...but we urged on and finally got to the field after a battle and me actually hopping off as I was fearing a bit for my safety - he also does tiny rears....again, lame attempts but his fronts do come off the ground a bit - I did hop off and walked to the field with him, and got back on in the field and he rode around the field a bit anxious, but fine...and even wanted to lead. Nothing spooks him - deer, tarps, sounds, plastic bags - he is fine with things around his feet.
What the heck happened to my horse? Could it be the food change? My trainer doubts it and feels it is behavioural - that now that he is settled in, he'd rather just be lazy and be in his pasture...I also worry that it's me - he senses my anxiety when he starts acting up. If I "spank" harder I am afraid he'll buck but I know I need to get past that because right now he is winning. I have another lesson Friday and I hope I can replicate the issue so my trainer can guide me. I am usually a confident, good rider but his resistance has me stumped and worried.
Yesterday we had a lovely day of just a long hand walk (to the field - he was FINE), grooming and ground work. He was nearly perfect. It's when I am in saddle. If it's saddle fit, nothing has changed since I got him? He does have a back that needs some topline and I'm using a corrective pad, adjustable gullet saddle. I also noticed him tensing when I tigthen girth - he never did that before so I think of saddle fit again.
What would cause a horse to suddenly not want to work or move forward to trot? (he trots fine longeing) I find pinning ears, swishing tail and his other antics to be pretty serious...and perhaps one good correction would do it but I'm scared he'll buck (even though he never bucked). I would appreciate any insight or advice. Thanks!