...I remember earlier in my riding journey i was riding a hrose who would periodically spook and do the 180, and he'd gotten me off 5 times! the owner of the barn said, "well did you spank him when he did that? he knows better than to do that".
i did not spank him, and I am not sure if that is a useful response. h m m ..
I'll throw this out FWIW, since I've adjusted my position on it:
Mia was a very spooky horse, but she was an utterly HONEST spooky horse. If she balked at something ahead, she was afraid. She was sufficiently 'willing' that she would forge ahead on 'uncomfortable', 'nervous', 'not entirely sure', etc. If she put on the brakes, or more frequently, if she jumped sideways or spun around, she was scared.
And a scared horse doesn't get better by hitting them for being scared.
Enter Bandit. After 6 months riding him...he's a different horse. He will fake being scared when he is really just 'uncomfortable', 'nervous', 'not entirely sure'
, etc. He also has times when he is SCARED - but when he is genuinely scared, he's more responsive than when he is just balking. Genuinely scared, he WANTS his rider to take charge. Balking...he's trying to take charge.
There is a different feel to his balks. In some ways, they imitate his fear - but he does the outward signs without the stiffening of his back, and there is something a little different about how he moves his head. It is hard to describe.
But when he does that, he needs to be pressured harder, not given relief. Because he isn't really afraid, and he is still entirely capable of learning and thinking - he's just rebelling.
Mia sometimes got ****ed at me, but I never felt like she was truly rebelling. Bandit will try to get out of doing what I want just because he doesn't want it. It isn't fear and it isn't 'you hurt my feelings'. Just a case of I don't want to and if it looks like I'm afraid them maybe he won't push me.
I'm thinking of switching to riding him in my old Aussie-style saddle. It fits him well enough, and my slick western saddle is excellent for a relaxed trail ride, but not so good for getting in a fight. It has a little too much room, a "slick seat" and a "slick fork", a "slick" is not what I need on a rebellious horse. With the Aussie-style saddle, I can get my legs around Bandit and tell him I'm going where he is going, but I'll make him very unhappy if he goes where I don't want to go.
It has me missing the two purebred Arabian mares I've owned. Both had their faults, and I can ride Bandit in places I could not have ridden Mia, but I miss the "Oooohhhhh, what are WE doing TOGETHER today?
" attitude of the mares.