Not a pro nor have I dealt with hundreds of horses, so take this in that light:
Sounds like a horse who has been taught to submit by someone who is willing and able to up the pressure to a point where the horse feels it must submit. If the horse has no other reason to submit other than "rider increases pressure", and you either can not or will not increase the pressure to that point, then the horse has no reason to submit.
Too much emphasis on obedience disengages the horse's mind. That gets the horse back to thinking, "Can the rider make me?
" instead of "Does listening to my rider help me?
" If obedience to a cue has no more purpose than "This is what the rider wants
", then why should the horse obey if the horse wants something different? And what horse can understand, easily, WHY it needs to speed up at some point in the arena, or WHY it needs to spin or stop very hard just because? What is the benefit to the horse?
The next step is to get the horse to start talking to you, which in turn means listening and responding to what the HORSE thinks. It means you may not cross that wood bridge today - and certainly won't if the only way to do it is to increase pressure until the horse gives up. You may need to back off until the horse is no longer too anxious - "She is also a bit of an anxious horse and I think her brain tends to go a mile a minute even when she is calm.
" - and then dismount and LEAD the horse. Would you trust someone who responds to your fear with kicking you or forcing you?
I just want her to learn to settle under saddle and listen to me as her leader and partner, wherever we happen to be riding...but it's a constant fight every time I ride her it seems.
If you want a horse to think of you as a partner, you need to be a partner to the horse - and partners don't expect blind obedience.
I suggest reading through some of these journal threads: https://www.horseforum.com/member-jou...ay-can-431322/ https://www.horseforum.com/member-jou...gether-622121/ https://www.horseforum.com/member-jou...a-trot-645777/ https://www.horseforum.com/member-jou...ntures-711762/ https://www.horseforum.com/member-jou...people-479466/ https://www.horseforum.com/member-jou...2015-a-536297/
In essence, you need to find a way to convince the horse you have good ideas. And not all horses are going to be interested in what you prefer to do. A friend had a stallion who was dangerous to ride until the stallion connected people riding him with things HE liked to do - travel 40 miles in a day, or work very rough cattle. Once he associated humans with that, he became my friend's all-time favorite horse and was eventually
ridden by kids.
That stallion sired Trooper, who was spurred to a bloody mess by someone who wanted Trooper to cut cattle - and Trooper hated working cattle. Yet Trooper was an excellent sheep horse and a wonderful beginning rider's trail horse...once he got over being spurred. Nine years later, he still has the scars:
So a big part can be finding a horse who likes doing the things you like to do. I don't think any horse can be very competitive at a sport the horse doesn't enjoy. They'll always be beaten by a horse with similar ability who WANTS to rein, cut, race, jump, perform, ride trails, etc. If you really like doing X, and the horse shows little initiative in X...don't buy the horse. It will just frustrate you both.