I'm usually pretty good at finding the answers on my own when I come across a training problem, but I had a very disappointing ride last night. There is a dairy farm about a quarter of a mile down the road that Stella does not like to go past. Lots of machinery and equipment, strange noises and smells not to mention those black and white monsters. When I got her last year she only had about 5 rides on her total so I kind of started from scratch. The first several times going past the farm she would flat out refuse, spin around or just start backing up. There's a well known trainer who always says "make the right thing easy and the wrong thing difficult" so what I would do was get off her and lunge her right there in the road. In my mind I was getting her to focus on me and not what was scaring her. She learned that by refusing she was going to have to work harder and it worked. After a few times of doing that she decided it was better to just go forward. She'd still hesitate, but she would respond to my cues to move forward. Once we're past the farm she gives a big sigh of relief and there are no more problems.
Well, last night we reached the farm and she flat out refused like she did a year ago. She'd stop and spin around trying to go back toward home. Then, when I'd urge her forward she'd just back up. So I thought, okay, she wants to back up so I backed her all the way past the farm. (Make the wrong thing difficult.) Once we got past it, she was fine until I took her down a road I don't usually go down. We came to a bridge. Same thing, she stopped. When I squeezed with my legs to urge her forward she started backing full speed. Sooo, I turned her back around and we backed across the bridge. Next was an Amish farm. Same scenario. Coming back home was the same thing past the Amish farm and bridge. She was okay past the dairy farm.
So I'm wondering if I made a mistake by backing her. I want her to trust me enough to move forward when she's scared (which I thought I had achieved until our ride last night) so do you think making her go backwards is confusing her? I kind of feel like I taught her to just start backing up when she gets afraid. How do you handle refusals with your horse?