My problem or hers?
Yesterday I rode a haflinger mare that I've ridden maybe ten or fifteen times before and we started out our ride very well. She was very responsive, listening to me pretty well, only acting up a little bit which I worked out as we progressed in our ride. In the beginning she would sometimes stop and try to sniff my left foot and nudge it around before I got her moving again. I wanted to get a canter out of her during this ride, so I slid my leg back and she responded. We went around once before I brought her back down to a trot and that's when she started to act up badly. She suddenly decided to stop and look at my foot again and I told her to walk, which she did reluctantly and she tried to go in the opposite direction. I got her to walk straight for a bit and then she stopped again and looked at my foot. I took it out of the stirrup to see if there was anything about my boots or halfchaps or something that could maybe be rubbing against her and bothering her, but it was all smooth and I know that my feet weren't resting on her sides. No flies on her flanks either. I asked for a walk but she acted distressed and started to back up, chewing on the bit and pinning her ears back. I turned her in a circle to get her to move and then straightened out.
She walked a few feet and stopped again, looking at my foot. Turned again, walked again, and I asked for a trot. She did NOT like that. She backed up again, looked at my foot AGAIN, and lowered her head and tensed up. I sensed a buck coming on so I turned her in another tight circle and didn't give her any slack to put her head down. The owner came by and got me a crop which I walked her to the fence to get, but as soon as she saw the stick she darted away. The owner then told me that she is absolutely terrified of the crop, which is the one tool that I really needed... I tried to get her to move again but she was completely unresponsive, continuing to look at my foot. I kicked her and asked with my seat and kept the reins up on her neck when I asked so she knew I wasn't asking her to stay.
She's a very sensitive horse so I'm baffled as to why she was ignoring all my cues. Does anyone have any theories as to why she was acting like this, and only towards the end? She hadn't been ridden in about two weeks, but if that were the cause why wouldn't she show it in the beginning? Do you think it was something I was doing or did she just suddenly decide to stop working? And what was up with my foot that she kept stopping and inspecting it? I know these are a lot of questions, lol, but if anyone has any answers I'd love to hear them! I asked her owner if the bridle and bit were the right fit and she said yes.