Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Washington, USA.
I have some basic advice for you. =]
Firstly, when I'm riding, or leading, a horse that stops and refuses to move forward, you can almost always get them to go forward after you circle them and work the hindquarters. It has always worked for me to get them "un-stuck."
Second, when my horse refuses to go forward, she will still go backwards. So when we are on the trail and she doesn't want to go forward anymore, I can turn her in the direction she wants to go, and move her backwards in the direction I want to go. Eventually, she realizes it's a lot easier to go where I want to go walking forwards than it is to go where I want to go walking backwards. I have done this going up a pretty big, steep hill, but I'm not sure the ditch you are mentioning would be a great place to use this technique.
When a horse is being naughty [typically the case with my horse] I just get tougher and more or less "force" her to go. My horse typically decides she doesn't want to continue on the trail and will spin around [to the left] to head around. I will spin her back around [to the right, I will never let her "finish" a circle] and give her a squeeze. Squeeze turns into kick, kick turns into a good whack with the ends of my reins. If that doesn't work, I use my "backwards" technique.
If she is truly scared or sceptical of something, I let her stop and observe. I won't immediately force her closer, but I won't let her retreat. When she stops focusing on the scary object, I ask her foward. If she's really scared, I will dismount and lead her forward and show her the scary object isn't scary. Then, I will re-mount and walk back and forth by the scary object several times before we continue.
To be more specific to your situation, I would just walk her up to the ditch and expect her to cross. If you don't think she will, she definitely won't. Will power, baby! If you are calm, assertive, and confident, your horse will feed off that energy. If she doesn't cross, don't let her retreat, but rather, walk her back and forth a few times. Maybe she will cross a few feet to the left or the right, or perhaps at an angle? I would also see if there are any differences on that side compared to the other. I.e., a bush on the way out will look different on the way back. If all else fails, work on leading her through it, back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. Lead her along inside the ditch if you can. Then re-mount and try again. Seeing as she came from an abusive situation, I would not use a stick, whip, or rein ends, as the problem can easily escalate. If you know what you're doing, spurs may help you enforce "go."
Sorry for the long-winded reply, I hope you can find something that works for you!
"Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds."