Join Date: May 2012
Location: CT USA an English transplant
Katie sounds a lot like the Irish Draught mare my one time boss had, an Irish Cob that I had on loan for a few years and our Irish Draught mare Willow.
What they have in common - They all come from Ireland and were all hunted and in the case of 'my' three and probably your mare - were all used as hirelings during the hunting season.
That means they get ridden by all sorts of riders and a lot of the time they're ridden unsympathetically and inconsiderately. They also often don't get enough work (as hirelings) to have them really fit enough to do a days hunting.
You will find that horses like this will usually hunt all day without argument and if you took her off the yard via trailer or box to some place with trails that she wouldn't behave in the same negative way.
She's set herself mental time limit for what she thinks is fair that has nothing to do with her willingness to set out with enthusiasm.
We had a Connemara jumping pony that would set out of the yard really sharp and willing but the moment she knew she was facing the 'home' direction she's try to bolt back to the yard. We cured her by leading her off another pony for a few weeks and riding her considerately. Her previous young owner had cantered or galloped her pretty much everywhere.
I've never found that using a whip on horses like this makes them anything but more resentful, even if you can ride through it they will still repeat their actions.
I don't think there's any quick fix to solving it, its something that only time and patience will cure. They have to start to enjoy their work and to do that they need to figure it out for themselves, with your help - you can't force them to enjoy working and you can't force them to be a willing partner!
With both Dawn and Mac, I increased their mileage by a little each week and used lungeing and manège work to add in the extra time needed to keep them fit. Mac improved the quickest because he never used fake spooking to turn around, he was more of the sort to plant himself and do a rearing and bucking routine if you got after him - that's where the 'spinning on the spot' trick works.
Dawn took longer, I spent a lot of time riding her out of ditches and fields that she'd spooked and jumped into! In the end though, my patience paid off because she turned into one of the most willing, trustworthy horses I've ever ridden. My boss' 14 year old niece and my son of the same age both took her out in complete safety once she'd got her head in gear.
Just winging it is not a plan