Originally Posted by existentialpony View Post
To be fair, I've been riding this horse for about a week, and I know that these things take time. But I feel like a good stop is the most important thing on a horse, and for whatever reason he just won't give it to me in this bit.
One thought I had, after reading that you've only been riding this guy for a week (I assumed you already had a relationship built up), is your body language.
What are you doing with your body?
For me, I have a huge issue with being a really forward rider on forward horses. I have no issue being really relaxed on a laid back mount but stick me on a forward horse and I have to consciously force myself to relax, breath, shift my weight backwards, the whole deal. I can now shift over to relaxed pretty easily but it took months to get there.
You probably know that a tense rider makes for a tense go-go-go horse and it's the same with leaning forward.
Before doing anything more, I would spend a few rides just relaxing yourself. Think through each of your body parts and find the tension. When he acts up, analyze the situation and figure out exactly what you did prior to the issue. I would bet you'll find that you tensed up, or you were leaning slightly forward, or you forgot to breath for a second.
What I like to tell my lesson kids when they get nervous (I can tell how their minds are working by how my mare reacts to them, as soon as they get excited or their energy up, hers goes up too) is to pretend they're a centaur. They are physically attached to the creature they're riding, zero chance of falling off. I find that concept really helps them relax cuz generally, the fear in play is the fear that says they could fall off at any time!
The other thing: since it's only been a week, be sure to give him time to know you. You "know" him in terms of most things about his past history, breed, training, etc, but he has no clue about you. He doesn't know why he should trust you other than the fact that you seem like a generally nice person. As they say: you can't force the trust of an Arab, you earn it.
It took a good solid year for my (Arab) mare to trust me. She had come from a very confusing home (one owner was really lax-ly nice, the other was very harsh and expected perfection all the time) so she was basically waiting for "the other shoe" to drop for a year. That was all totally worth it now that she trusts me more than any creature I've ever seen BUT it was a harrrd year!
I don't think it'll take you a year - that's just an example.
Anyway, if you ride today, analyze what you're telling him to do with your body!
With a horse that knows you, you can get away with all sorts of confusing stuff but a new horse, you get the chance to see what might need to be improved and improve it!