The Op is not trying to rein the horse, just ride a horse that is touted to have had some reining training in the past...
A horse that bolts towards buddies, just asked to work outside, cross a bridge, might need anew job, but first he needs someone to ride him and not allow him to drift towards friends, to weave aimlessly...
...but I also believe, that if I ask my horse to perform,he does so, and not give me the equine version of the finger
...Trouble is when I get on to ride, she starts to get silly. She walks around fine and neck reins not too bad. But she does constantly try to go off and do her own thing, usually the classic of wanting to be by the exit gate or any of the tie up areas of the arena. She will trot ok sometimes, other times she weaves and fights everything, it's like she's drunk....
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...
...She's better when we ride in the arena but taking her outside and asking her to do the obstacle work today seemed to completely fry her mind and amplify the "not listening" issue. 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.
I know horses do rebel and give The Middle Hoof Salute sometimes. But I also believe what the Austrian cavalryman wrote in the 1860s - that the horse defends himself. Not just from being 'attacked', but from training that gives him no reason to WANT to be ridden.
The French say, when speaking of a horse that shows restiveness, "il se defend" - he defends himself...There is much truth in this expression, and it is one that riders should constantly bear in mind, for insubordination is most commonly the result of something having been demanded from the horse that it either did not know how to do or was unable to perform...
...There is another thing to be considered with regard to the horse's character - it loves to exercise its powers, and it possesses a great spirit of emulation; it likes variety of scene and amusement; and under a rider that understands how to indulge it in all this without overtaxing its powers, will work willingly to the last gasp, which is what entitles it to the name of a noble and generous animal...
...Horses don't like to be ennuye, and will rather stick at home than go out to be bored ; they like amusement, variety, and society : give them their share of these, but never in a pedantic way, and avoid getting into a groove of any kind, either as to time or place, especially with young animals. It is evident that all these things must be taken into account and receive due attention, whether it be our object to prevent or to get rid of some bad habit a horse may have acquired ; and a little reflection will generally suffice to point out the means of remedying something that, if left to itself, would grow into a confirmed habit, or if attacked with the energy of folly and violence, would suddenly culminate in the grand catastrophe of restiveness...
...Here, too, we find a practical hint for the treatment of full-grown horses that shy at particular objects and sounds, or object to passing certain spots. Treat them as the English trainer does his young ones, lead them about as described above, and reward them for their docility with a bit of bread, sugar, or something of the sort ; you will thus avoid all conflicts, the danger and evil consequences of which are enhanced a thousandfold if you attempt to mount your horse under such circumstances. Of course, when shyness arises from defective vision, which is often the case, this method will be of no avail....
-On Seats and Saddles, by Francis Dwyer, Major of Hussars in the Imperial Austrian Service (1868)
There is a lot in that passage that deserves attention. Most of the training I've seen, read about or watched on video focuses on getting responses to cues.
And many will also focus on the physical problems - as they should. A bit that doesn't fit, or a saddle that doesn't fit, or inconsistent cues that confuse the horse - all of those can and frequently DO cause the horse to resist. And it is important to look at those and remove the source of any physical pain that prevents the horse from listening.
But it also helps - or at least, has helped me with the few horses I've owned and worked with - to consider how the horse feels about being ridden.
...Horses don't like to be ennuye, and will rather stick at home than go out to be bored ; they like amusement, variety, and society : give them their share of these, but never in a pedantic way, and avoid getting into a groove of any kind, either as to time or place, especially with young animals.
I think horses fear far more than we humans realize. And if their rider can not take away their fear and convince them they are safe, then of course they seek the safety of the herd.
She is not asking him to walk off a cliff, but to simply ride like a broke horse that understands aids...
I view this as a casual stroll in a very safe place. My horse viewed it as torment - as a solitary ride thru enemy territory, filled with unknown threats to his life:
What has worked with him has not been focusing on applying cues consistently (which I was well able to do before I got him), and not on body control - but simply TEACHING him that I know what is safe or not, and that I won't expose him to threats needlessly. What has also worked well is slow acclimatization, and trying to make sure I never trap him between my cues and the danger.
All of that is tough when one doesn't own the horse and ride it regularly. It also requires learning - by trial and ERROR - the difference between a horse who is afraid and a horse who just doesn't feel like doing something.
But when a horse doesn't feel like doing something, our first choice shouldn't always be to say he is disrespectful, and to accuse him of giving us The Middle Hoof Salute. The horse in the picture will give me 5-10 minutes, maybe more, of good arena time. Then he starts to act up. I can respond by saying, "Oh, you are disrespecting me! You want a fight? I'll give you one!
Or...I can take him out on the street, we can do a 5-10 minute walk along the road, and come back...and he'll give me another 5-10 minutes of good arena work. He gets bored easily in an arena.
The mare I owned was a bit different. She would work in an arena for an hour, cheerfully, provided I never asked her to do the same exercise more than twice in a row. She would do a figure 8 without complaint, and then another. By the third, she would start resisting a little, and by the fourth she would stop, turn around and look at me, and say, "Are you LOST? Do you need a MAP?
" But if I mixed things up enough, she'd happily work hard, giving it an honest effort, for an hour or more.
If, however, I said we were going to do a circle until she got it right...that was picking a fight. And she'd give me one. Poor fitting tack can cause a horse to resist. So can boredom, or being demanded to do things ad nauseum that don't make sense to them
So BEFORE we accuse the horse of being disrespectful, or of giving us "the equine version of the finger", we need to ask ourselves if we are being disrespectful to the horse
. And we also need to understand an environment that looks totally stress-free to us
may well look to the horse like we are asking him to walk off a cliff.
In the winter, one of my neighbors puts a 6 foot tall inflatable penguin in their yard.
I'm not sure it is fair of me to get upset if my horse doesn't LIKE 6' tall penguins staring at him with implacable hatred in their plastic eyes! I'm not sure pushing him past it - which I could do and did - helped any. TEACHING him that the penguin wasn't staring at him with implacable hatred DID work, and we could soon stroll past it. But I first had to look at the penguin thru my horse's eyes.