Well sir I'm sorry to say it but you are experiencing a problem many first time Arab owners also experience: your horse has outsmarted you.
I was 12 and weighed in at 90 pounds soaking wet with rocks in my pockets when my dad bought me an Arab which, for the first six months, became known as the 'stupid jerk'. While I tried him out in the company of others, he was mild mannered, wonderful, responsive and affectionate. I begged my dad to buy him and he obliged. I got him home, saddled him up, and the first thing he did was pull a rear that would have put the Black Stallion to shame. Result? I shook like a leaf while I untacked him, put him out in his pasture, stomped away and told my dad I wanted a four wheeler. He was more poisonous then my other two horses combined.
Well I stuck with him, and the first year was hell and a half. Literally, I had to drag a lawn chair into his pasture and sit there and read books for an entire summer. The first three weeks were terrible - he did not give a care in the world about me. But slowly he came around and by the end of the summer I had three very comfortable gaits and felt fairly safe on him.
I spend a lot of time with that little horse (that was 7 years ago..) and he thoroughly enjoys my company. He comes when called (in pasture or the times he's been loose), he screams his Arab neigh at me when I get home from school after 4 months of not seeing him, and he also "hugs" me with his head, and I'm the only person he hugs. How he learned this human display of affection is beyond me. I'm proud to say that I have won numerous jumper trophies, coolers, prizes, and recognition on him, because he never ever quits and has the heart of a lion. He'll jump drops into water on the cross country course, receive comments like "brilliance!" on dressage tests, and once ran an arena record barrel racing time when we entered as a joke.
Arabs are notorious one-person horses. If you aren't his person, he isn't going to bond with you. However, they are also not really fighters with "their" people. When mine gets scared or upset, he comes as close to me as he can for reassurance. He certainly doesn't rear or act aggressive. If we're doing something uncomfortable for him, he lets me know by acting apprehensive. Not aggressive.
You also might want to tell your daughter that I've beaten the pants off of many SUV sized horses in both dressage and jumpers in my day..
A good post!
(My gelding, whilst once aggressive because he was unsure, now scoots right up next to me when we encounter something scary...or quickly gets RIGHT behind me if I am walking him. Lol, I don't allow him to stay there, but it is rather funny).
Anyway...to me, it sounds like this horse has got your number. He knows exactly how to get you to do what he wants -- which is to quit the ride and bring him back home. He probably senses you are a greener rider and is likely taking advantage of that as well.
With this horse, it's going to take a lot of effort on your part to get him to respect you -- which is something that is missing here. You describe him as "confrontational" -- that is an apt word for it, he is confronting you over your leadership skills and winning. In his mind, when you get on his back, *he* is the leader, not you...which is indeed very dangerous.
You want to keep him around as a spare? If that is the case, you should continue working with him to make him a good citizen or get a trainer to help you (I know you said you don't have the money for that now). Being herd bound, whilst annoying and dangerous, is by no means a permanent problem and can be overcome. There are a few threads on here which go into this issue in detail...
If you personally feel up to keeping him around and working with him, then much kudos to you! But like I said, it's going to take some dedication and consistency on your part. He sounds like an energetic, highly intelligent horse who can very easily figure out his riders...and if you are set on keeping him, you have to raise yourself up to his level, be firm, and be the leader (also have him checked out for teeth and back problems, etc..) You are also going to have to spend some genuine one-on-one time with this guy.
May I ask what you are feeding him? Sometimes diet can lend a helping hand with these issues. How much exercise/turnout does he get?
I can sympathise with you a bit...seven months ago I rescued a registered 13 year-old arab gelding who turned into a nightmare on hooves. Not only was he a scruffy bag of bones with bad feet, he had NO manners and had long ago learned how to buffalo people into doing things his
way. Up to this point I had had no experience dealing with "project" horses but I resigned myself to sticking with him and working with him consistently, garnering help and advice wherever and however I could. I can not tell you how many times people have told me to "get rid of him and find a nice quiet quarter horse".
Well, I never did and still have no plans to. I literally had to "raise myself up" and become a Lead Mare which is not exactly in my personality description. I spent and continue to spend a lot of time with him and today, he is almost a completely different animal and has just begun refresher training under saddle. He has an amazing, youthful mind...is doing wonderfully
and I am looking forward to many long, adventurous years with this guy. Let me tell you...he was WAY worse than your little gelding, at the peak of his horrible behaviour.
Now, my story is turning out well...but I recognise that I am "one of those people" who don't mind a more energetic, SMART horse who likes to test his riders...and I am also aware that I oddly enjoy working out his issues and having a slightly more challenging mount.
There is nothing wrong with just wanting to enjoy a quiet, uneventful ride on something more placid...and if that is all you want, then there is nothing wrong
in finding this gelding another home with more experienced riders who would be able to focus his energy in a positive direction. It is smart to know "when to quit" when you come across a horse who is beyond your ability to safely ride. Many of us have done this. BUT if you honestly feel obligated toward this horse, then I just want to tell you it CAN be done...
Hope I haven't rambled too much.