My husband and I have been working with a trainer all summer with relative success over some of the issues we were having as new horse owners/riders. My horse has now reverted back to being incredibly difficult to mount off a block (he's 15.2h, I'm 5') so getting directly on him from the ground (although I have done so) is a challenge. He walks off, throws out his hind end, etc. This can go on for 5 minutes. I circle him around the block, try again-if he moves I circle him more...eventually he gets the idea, but more often than not, my husband has to dismount and hold him so I can mount. Note he had a problem with this when we first got him, but had gotten much better and would stand still...now the last 3 times he's doing it again.)
Problem 2: Husband's horse is kind of lazy and would prefer to stay in the paddock- once we get him to ride out, he often stops, and as my husband telling him to turn in a certain direction and walk on, often results in spinning in circles and much ground pawing. If he can keep him moving, my horse (who leads) will walk nicely - but once the other stops, mine gets agitated and nervous and instinctively wants to turn around and head back toward him. I am able to control this, but it is certainly not ideal to spend this time fighting with my horse to either stand still & wait or to walk on.
Both my husband and I know that we are being tested, and for the most part, they eventually fall into line & we have a decent ride. When my trainer rode husband's horse w/ me this week, only a few issues arose with my horse being reluctant to go where I asked through the woods, but did comply...the main problem is that when we ride together, my husband can't get him to keep going, and so my horse reacts badly. Any advice???? Last night went pretty well and we stayed out about an hour despite their momentary lapses, but this morning husband couldn't get horse to move out at all...spinning, pawing, and ebded up bringing him back in...I continued to ride in the paddock area for half an hour, thn dismounted and mounted several more times to work on that problem. Both horses were purchased as "beginner horses that anyone could ride, blah, blah, blah..."
Since your post appears in the “New to Horses” section, I understand that you and your husband are both relatively inexperienced riders. In addition, it sounds like your horses may be less experienced than the seller indicated. This can be a difficult situation. It would have been better to have first taken lessons on experienced horses in order to gain both knowledge and experience yourselves. However, don’t despair. Riding can be a challenge, but most things are that help expand our knowledge. Rather than concentrating on the difficulties, look at this experience as an opportunity to learn.
First, it might be best to begin work with your horses in a restricted and familiar area. Always asking the horses to go somewhere they don’t know before you have even established a relationship with them makes trying to establish this relationship more difficult. The more consistency you offer the horse, the more it can focus on the one thing that is most important at the moment.
Your horses may indeed be testing you and your husband. Why should they bow to your will just because you want them to? And do they really understand what you want? Two major things are necessary. One is to help your horse understand that you are to be the leader in your relationship. The other is to establish a form of communication that both you and the horse understand. These are not done independently. They must be worked at simultaneously. But we can view them from different perspectives.
Leadership may be achieved in more than one way. One approach is to demand leadership through force. Another is to impress the horse that he can trust you and that you have the authority to direct his actions. Horses are usually good followers. As long as their basic needs are met, they are usually willing to go along with the directions of another horse or of a human if that individual projects authority. Authority can be projected by such things as body language, voice, persistence. Good posture, both on the ground and in the saddle, helps project confidence and authority. Most people don’t realize how much this one simple change can make in their relationship with their horse. A calm, steady voice projects more confidence than yelling or timid approaches. Horses learn best through consistent repetition. This doesn’t mean keep doing the same thing even if it doesn’t work, but establishing a routine can help a horse experiment and test responses until he is made to understand he has discovered what is expected of him.
While some people are good at faking knowledge, it is best to gain some real knowledge if you plan on being a leader. Read some books and watch some videos on training and riding horses. Being new to this, things might seem confusing at first. Different people use different terms for the same thing and others use the same term to mean different things. Pay more attention to meaning than to the terms employed. Realize that there may be more than one way to achieve the same goal. I suggest choosing the method that is kindest for the horse. Still, if one approach doesn’t work, you may try another.
Now, lets look at some specifics.
Circling a horse around the mounting block to bring him back into position if he walks off is only one method of addressing the problem. A method that works with one horse does not necessarily work with another. A method that works with a horse one time may not work with that same horse another time. It is good to know more than one method. It is also useful to understand why a horse may be walking off.
Another method you might try is to back the horse up to where he was. Also, try to prevent the horse from moving in the first place. Get the horse accustomed to you standing on the mounting block beside him by standing on it while grooming him. Start with the mounting block in front of his withers where he would not suspect you are trying to mount. As he gets used to this, position the block to other areas until you can stand on it anywhere without the horse becoming nervous. Progress from there.
Everything you do when mounting and while riding will influence how the horse feels about having you on its back. The more you treat the horse with respect – while still being the leader – the more willing he will be to submit to your desires.
Since your husband’s horse is reluctant to move and your’s reluctant to leave the other horse, it might help for each of you to do a little independent work so each of you can work on establishing leadership with your individual horse with less distractions.
Your husband should work with persistence. He should try to get the horse to go in the direction he indicates. If the horse stops and refuses to go forward, get him moving by directing him to the side. Once the horse is moving again, try to redirect him in the right direction once more. Keep this up through calm persistence until the horse stops resisting. If the horse gets nervous, rather than exacerbating the situation, I would simply sit quietly on the horse until it calms down. Then, I would quietly ask again. This may take a while, but the time will be well spent. Calm persistence often provides quicker results than attempts at getting faster compliance, and the resulting relationship will be better.
I hope these thoughts help you. If you have other questions, please ask.