Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: Southeastern PA
I think it is possible that the former owners are lying. I would judge the horse from what you see, and not what they tell you, unless it is something health related and then I would at least hear them out.
Sounds to me like you have a completely green horse who needs to learn how to do everything under saddle. This is not the end of the world if you have the confidence, skills and time to do it.
I know that this will feel like a kick in the gut, and I don't mean it to, but if you don't have those three things and you cannot afford a trainer, you might want to consider moving him along to someone who can do this. It is kinder for the horse and you. I had to do this with my last mare, she was more work than I had time for.
I believe, others might correct me, but if he is tattooed then he raced, at least once. Even if not, he was certainly trained to race. Every single thing you are trying to do with him under saddle is brand new news to him, in my opinion. From the saddle, to the weight of the rider (no offense meant at all, jockeys are not human with their weight, I am skinny as all heck and I still probably weigh at least 1.5 times them).
My personal belief is that it is not that he is not listening to you, but he does not understand what you are asking. With the ground work, he has done similar things, when riding it is completely different from what he is used to, so he has no clue that pulling on the bit means slow, he just wants to run from it as that is what he was trained to do.
As he is so good on the ground, I would also venture to suggest that he is trying to be a good boy under saddle, and he is doing what he was taught and simply does not understand what you are asking.
Long lining is a good tool as Tiny suggests. A surcingle is nice but not needed, but you do have to teach the horse to get used to having the lines behind his legs, and you need to be careful when you do this. My guy took a bad bite to the back in the saddle area, so I long lined him for about 4-5 weeks while that healed, I certainly became fitter myself, which sucked, but it was good for the horse.