Horse strong at canter in trails
I guess I could use an advice. :)
My 7yo gelding is perfect in trails - forward going, sure footed, brave and relies on my cues, except for one case. When I got him, he was trained to be a trail guide horse, thus he is more than happy to lead a string of horses and is great as a first horse - goes, turns, stops, backs up, yields well, and the same goes to trail riding alone - he does everything from the slightest cues, I even ride him bareback and bridleless, just with a cordeo, on longer trail rides sometimes.
However, if we go on a group trail ride and he doesn't get to be the first horse, he gets more tense, and, although he still remains good at walk and trot, he tends to get strong at canter and will repeatedly "offer" to pass the horses in front of us. He doesn't bolt or barge into others, but he will try to get closer to those in front of us and get annoyed when he sees that I won't let him pass. And I recently got to know from somebody who knew his previous owners, that he had this problem before I bought him, so it has been there for a while.
To prevent that, I try to keep a steady contact with him during the ride and, if he starts getting difficult, I make him flex, yield, do transitions, etc., to get him thinking and more focused on me, but, although he does those things, he still stays ready to use the smallest opportunity to get strong again and tries to ignore the cues. Also, if we canter behind other horses, he gets harder to stop - still does it, but not without a stubborn attitude.
It reminds me his position in the herd - he is 24/7 pastured with a herd of 10 other horses, mostly geldings, and is very dominant and protective about his position in the pecking order.
He never shows this behavior in arena, of course, or anytime we ride alone/as the leading pair. What else could I do to encourage him to engage his mind more during these accompanied rides and to change this behavioral pattern? Might the reason of it be just plain disrespect towards me as a rider in a situation where he feels he should fight for his position in the herd?
Thanks in advance. :)
I have come a long way, to surrender my shadow to the shadow of my horse.