Join Date: Jun 2012
Location: Canberra Australia
It may not be of much help now that the horse has seized up, but for future reference, I'd be looking at a few things that might have brought it about. This is all from my own experience, I haven’t had a horse completely seize up on me, but have gone close to it, so I can sympathise with your situation.
When I was a bit younger, and a whole lot more pushy on my horses, I used to be on their back constantly (figuratively as well as literally) and never give them a break. Partly because I would get some pretty good results, and then I'd want to improve them, partly because if I didn't get the results I wanted I wouldn't back off till I got 100% of what I was asking for. It took me a long time to learn to chill out and realise that that can be pretty bad when it comes to training a horse. They can get really sour and start to really resent even the sight of you, and this can lead to them seizing up. So, going back to the origin of the problem, look to see if you were too eager and worked the horse too much. Even when you are on their back riding them you can give them a rest and not be pushing their buttons all the time; that was probably one of the best lessons I ever learned with horses. Kind of to ride quietly and gently as it were, and just let the horse move out without me trying to micro manage everything all the time.
Next look at how you were working the horse. If your release was constantly miss timed, then you can lead the horse to this kind of thing too. Timing is really important. But I guess the think I'd point out here is the delivery of the pressure is just as important as the release too. What I mean is that the timing of when you put the stimulus onto the horse should be as important as the release. In my experience all of that, the timing of the application, should line up with the horse's feet. So in practical terms your signals to stop, turn, or whatever should be given when the horse's feet are in the best position for the horse to easily give you what you want. If you are asking the horse to do stuff mid way through a stride where it has to go to the next beat to deliver, and you maybe then increase pressure thinking the horse is resisting then the horse can come to resent that kind of thing too. It seems to me that everyone knows about release of pressure, but few seem to want to talk about timing the application of the pressure. So maybe have a look at both and see how your timing is, if they are wrong, then you can wind up with an unresponsive horse, even to the extent of it locking up.
But, you are already in a position where the horse is seizing up. So, how to fix it? Well that lady in that YT video seemed to be onto something to me, the first thoughts I had before having a look at the video were to start off with flexion and then loosening up the feet laterally, which (though I didn’t watch the whole video) it seems she was kind of doing. Yet, you will have to make sure your timing is right to get it sorted out and keep it that way. Others have mentioned spurs and a crop or a whip, they can be handy too, but only if you use them right; so I'd be careful about just getting on and trying to spur or whip your horse forwards (which I don't thing people were suggesting to you anyway). I'm guessing you will need to re-soften the horse through good application of pressure and appropriate release. The horse is locked up, you may need spurs of a crop to loosen it (though thats not a given, it may be OK without them) but I have a gut feeling that doing it all laterally will be your best bet. Though your timing and release will need to be right to begin with.
Sorry for the monologue, but good luck with it anyway. Oooooo, and keep your cool and have plenty of patience, I think you will need them, but stick with it and I reckon you''ll sort it out.