You've got a lot of the right ideas, but did you try it that one ride and say "it's not working"? It's going to take a little time, she's feeling good, and it'll take her a bit to calm down and get back to her job. Two ways I've used when a horse speeds up out of the gait you want:
1. Start out with half halting and vocal command, increase the half halts, one-rein stop if she doesn't listen. Eventually...and believe me...EVENTUALLY...she'll slow at the half halt to avoid the one-rein stop that she knows is coming. It'll take at least a few rides.
2. Every time she breaks the gait have her come to a complete stop, back her up, and try again.
Anyway, as far as "keeping a constant hold on her" do remember that pulling steady is a tug-of-war that you'll never win. Give+take with your hands will be more effective. (although maybe you just meant that you were keeping contact?) I also think a HUGE thing you just said is that you only relaxed 25%....isn't your mare an Arabian?? Arabians (in my experience) feed off of others' energy even more than other breeds. She was probably feeding off your nervous energy quite a bit...just remember to stay calm, be patient, and be consistent. You'll be okay!
***hugs*** ....I feel for you, my mare did nothing but run away with me when I got her in Sept but has learned a lot since then and is much better.
I should have said that this has been an issue for some time, not to this degree, but she's always been like this. She's just been better in the last few months and I had hoped that she finally made the connection and these issues were "fixed" however, that is apparently not the case. And then, when I think about it, her "better" behavior also coincided with when her hocks started not feeling so great and now I'm wondering if her "better" behavior was really just a by-product of pain... :(
I said that when I relaxed, her behavior only improved by no more than 25%. I do make a very extreme effort to stay really loose and relaxed with her and not get excited because I know that that excites her. But it's a little hard when she's going bonkers. Haha But yeah, I was refering to the times during our ride today where I realized I was tense and "de-tensified" myself. Usually it seems to work better than it did today... Which worries me a little since she was worse than she's been in quite a while and the usual tricks weren't working...
Someone basically ruined her in the past on the halting and backing up thing, I think. It's taken me literally years (it's only this last summer where she stopped doing this consistently, some days when she's feeling extra nutty, she does like to break it out still) to get her to move forward after stopping, or just stop on the trail. She used to have two modes of travel on the trail: backwards at 20mph or forwards. Thankfully, now we have: forward (which is now too fast, haha), stop, and go diagonally forward. I'm scared to reintroduce backing up on the trail, I feel like it might backfire.
I'll give the half-halt then one rein stop a try. I've never tried them together like that. My one concern is that she may start immediately turning in for a ORS as soon as I half-halt, but it sure wouldn't hurt to try!
I do have a solid stop with a word "installed" in her mind so that's pretty good, imo. She'll stop for it even if I drop the reins and whisper it. She doesn't like doing that, but she will.
Thank you for your thoughts and tips!
I guess I just want so badly for her to be able to be slow and calm! I guess, if I really think about her behavior objectively, she's not really un-calm when she's behaving like this. She's not spooking at things and since she only spooks when she's really shot through the roof mind-wise, I guess it could be worse. And I guess I did choose an Arab with a history of being "up" and she is much better than she used to be... I guess it's just disappointing to see her being like this after she's been so good for quite a while.
I'm just scared that she's going to hurt herself, and maybe me, in amongst her antics. However, I should remind myself that I have never fallen off this horse. My body has tried to remove me from her back but she's never let it happen. She really is trustworthy, I suppose. I'm just worry that someday, she's going to make the wrong judgment call and we're both going to die. :P
And yeah, she was totally better in the summer. However, in the summer, she was being ridden everyday for hours and she was still lunged beforehand!
And, I do suppose that I DID ride her in the summer, on multiple occasions, with her only wearing a halter/leadrope and me on bareback, over some pretty tricky trail, and I still didn't fall off and she behaved really well... And I did take her away from her dinner to hop on bareback in a halter to lead an unexpected trail ride and she totally wowed me...
I just want her to be that amazing on a regular basis!
It would probably also be good if I tried to ride her more often/find somewhere, anywhere, to lunge her so that her jollies are all out.
I love her, she's just tricksy.
And, please forgive any horrendous typos, it's late, my cat is angry at me because I'm late feeding him and he is therefore laying smack in front of my laptop so I can barely see over his mound of angry black furriness. Haha!