Nervous Over reactive horse... actually I think he has OCD
I've had Primo about 6 months now. The previous owners did very little with him other than trail ride a few times a year. What happened before that I have no clue. I've discovered random gaps in his training. He does advanced moves like lateral movements and will turn off your leg (like a reiner's spin, just slower). But more important things like breaking at the poll and transitions were non-existent. He's come a long way, but we have a lot of set backs.
My biggest roadblock is he's over reactive and/or very smart. Once he gets what you're looking for he over does it. He's hyper aware of where I am, my body language, what I'm asking, what I might ask in the future. A few examples, working on the ground getting him to disengage his hind end, he'll do it very quickly, and as soon as you step past his shoulder. Undersaddle, we have been plagued with canter problems (which have greatly improved in the last month). I can never ask for the canter in the same place because he is now geared up to canter there. Most horses I've worked with it takes a lot of repetition to do what he does in two tries.
I am always working on or reminding myself to stay quiet and change things up so he doesn't concentrate one just one thing. It makes advancing him difficult and slow because i can't work on something too often.
I was thinking of taking him to a clinic (currently considering Ken mcNabbs as he'll be sorta in the area) to get some professional advice, but I'm nervous that it will only make him even more over reactive. Especially the ground work. I currently do not have a round pen to work in... I create my own out of our small outdoor and jumps, but it's not sturdy enough for off the line work.
Any ideas on a way to help me help he be less reactive to me and working?
make sure when he does something without you asking, or anticipates, make sure he knows that is BAD. And make sure your aids are always crisp and clear. And give him LOTS of praise, it sounds like he does want to work for you, so try to keep that, but direct it into focussing on your aids and not trying to predict what your asking.
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Normally I'd say do something different every 6 strides using all the moves you already use, but this horse sounds like he'll change it up at 5 just to stay a step ahead. What about making it really boring for him for awhile until he stops looking for the next thing? Maybe that would turn his brain off or at least turn it down a bit. If he's thinking trot/canter/shoulder-fore/backup, make it walk...walk...walk until he puts his head down and relaxes and goes along for the ride. That's all I can think of.
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