Cantering Back to the Barn
I am new to Horse Forum, and this is my first post. It will be a relatively long post, so please bear with me. I will try to include as many details as possible; although, they may not all be relevant.
I purchased my first horse in December of 2012. She was started/green-broke; she could only be haltered and saddled. I did all of her training to this date. I don't know any of her history.
She has come a long way. She is good on the ground and in the saddle, and we can even ride bridleless (probably tackless if I was a better bareback rider) in the arena. The only "problems" she has on the ground are things I don't really care about, such as pawing in the cross-ties (I very rarely cross tie her. When I single-point, she stands fine.).
I trained her to be a trail horse. She is not conformationally great, but she has a good mind and is sure-footed. She sometimes startles but rarely spooks. She is not "sour" nor "bound." She is fine hacking alone on a loose rein away from and to the barn. She does not mind long hours, as I have ridden four, five, six hours before and she was good. Although, it was just casual trail riding (not extremely strenuous).
I bought a new (to me) saddle last year. Although I did not have it professionally fitted, I did have several (six, including me) different people look at it and say it looked okay. I'm a hypochondriac but for saddle fit, so I am not ruling out saddle fit.
She is healthy, according to the vet. Although, she is going to get floated later this month or early January.
She is in pasture 24/7, hay and balancer - morning and night.
She is good walking, trotting, cantering, and galloping away from the barn, even on a loose rein. Towards the barn, however, she bolts - not always. She will mosey back to the barn on a loose rein. When I ask her to trot, I may have to remind her once or twice to slow, but otherwise, she'll trot back to the barn on a loose rein.
Cantering is a 50/50. Sometimes she will do a nice "western-pleasure-stock-lope" back to the barn on a loose rein. Other times, she will go considerably faster than I'd like. She will slow a little, but I have to constantly remind her, so I turn her around, then ask where I had previously asked. If I continue to do these relays, sometimes she listens, and I'll stop her and give her a treat. Other times, once she's had enough, she will bolt, and I can't stop her. I've tried everything I can think of to make her stop; circles, one-rein-stops, pull-and-release, gradual pressure increase, bracing, see-sawing, jerking, etc. (bring on the hate mail). She ignores all my cues - seat, hands, voice mean nothing to her. She only stops if I fall off or she runs into a tree or bush, so I know it isn't fear-related bolting. I even tried doing an emergency dismount and then getting after her - HARD, but she is smart. As soon as she feels my weight shifting, she speeds up even faster to a point where an emergency dismount is kind of dangerous. I won't give up, so she eventually tires out. The last time, however, that took nearly three hours.
Obviously, I can just never canter her towards the barn, and avoid the problem altogether; she is a really good horse otherwise. However, I think that I should be able to go where I want and the speed I want without her saying, "No." Does that sound domineering? This is a relatively new behavior. The only thing that has changed is that I've started asking to canter back to the barn.
For those of you who will say, "just let her run back to the barn then work her hard", I don't know if that'll work.
For those of you who will say, "canter her, slow and/or stop her, and praise her,", she will already do that (until she's had enough). Should I not ask her again and just settle for a faster-than-I'd-like canter until next ride?
For those of you who will say, "go work on the foundations and canter in the arena", I'm having no problems in the arena.
I don't know what to do.