Just some background:
I am currently riding at a barn close to home and looking for my first horse. I want to do barrel racing primarily, and pole bending eventually. Western pleasure, etc. Not calf roping, or anything with roping. I have ridden for 10 years, and know how to ride. My trainer has a young registered appaloosa gelding (not sure how old he is, and we don't really know why he was registered appaloosa, he looks like a QH) that a previous boarder left there. As in, this boarder just up and vanished, leaving this then 3 year old at my trainer's barn. Apparently, his old owner was a professional trainer, and bought Tuffy for use in lessons and seminars (this is what I was told) and had around 3 months of intense, every day under saddle training. However, once his owner left him, no one rode him for 2-3 years.
We aren't sure HOW old he is exactly, but he is around 5-6. Anyways, my trainer asked me if I wanted to try riding him, but warned me that he is a total toss-up--he does have training, but it was years ago. I rode him and LOVED his personality, he seemed fiesty but willing to please, although confused and clumsy.
He is a beautiful line back dun, with the markings on his legs and everything. We both believe he was formerly abused, because he is VERY sketchy about anything that has to do with his head, as in, he freaks out.
I just need you guy's opinion on where to go from here. He is rideable, but likes to refuse a lot. He doesn't buck, rear, kick, or bite. He does have the tendancy to want to run over anyone standing in the pen if he isn't handled properly. Once you get him going, he will calmly and BEAUTIFULLY trot/canter around the pen. After a couple rotations, he starts throwing his head and going sideways like a noodle, and gets somewhat out of control. Once we stop and collect ourselves, he is OK again. We tried him trotting around a very small barrel pattern just to see his reaction, and he collected very well around the turns and handled himself great, but would go crazy coming out of the second barrel and we'd lose it.
What should I do next? I'm thinking about buying this horse around christmas time, and I know he is NOT anywhere near ready for barrels, but where to go? I love his personality so much and he has heart.
How many days a week should I work him, what should we do, how much attention does a horse like this need?
Here is a picture of him: