If the horse isn't moving right due to training, retrain him.
Bandit was used for some sort of racing. His rider was probably over 200 lbs in his socks, using a western saddle, and Bandit is probably around 800 lbs. When I first asked him to trot, he exploded into a very fast trot. I was bouncing so much I wondered if I had forgotten how to sit a trot. It took a while for me to realize that no matter what I did, he braced his back like an I-beam.
He had been ridden in open country using a bosal as primary, but needed a bit to stop him because he was competitive. At least, that is what I was told. I like bits, and he knew the basics of a bit. But I found him hard in the mouth with little flexibility. If I took the slack out of the reins at a trot, he would slam on the brakes and come to a complete stop before all the slack was out. The first time caught me by surprise and I bumped my hands against his neck to keep from being thrown off the front of the saddle. He also did all transitions like that from trot to stop.
We started working on it in early July. This was on our first arena ride:
I asked for advice on HF, dug into some dressage books I own for ideas, and re-read Littauer's "School Your Horse" and Chamberlin's book on training a horse from the beginning (can't remember the title right now).
There were also issues with his feet. He was very sensitive after pulling the front shoes, and his left front hoof has been changing angle - coming back - over the last 3 months, with more to go.
One of the dressage books I bought on HF recommendation summed it up like this - and it is pretty similar to Littauer and Chamberlin and others:
"The three cardinal principles of riding are: Forward, Calm and Straight...
...When the horse is carefully steeped in a consistent routine; hand-led with firm kindness and respect, the animal becomes mentally matured and mellow...a willing and generous worker, confident in mankind" - pg 49 & 51
"When training the horse - do little and frequently.
Any artificial placement of the horse's head must be strictly avoided...
One will always be able to trace any riding problem to the breaking of one, or all, of the cardinal rules of horsemanship: 'forward, calm and straight'" - page 58
So, after 60 days, is he "fixed"?
No. Most of what I've read says it can take a few months to a year or more to really establish a solid foundation of forward and calm, particularly on a horse who has been ridden a lot without that base.
But his back is much looser. He braces when he is scared, but he is starting to use his back. Littauer recommended working on 3 speeds of walking and 3 speeds of trotting. For my purposes, I emphasize forward and calm on every ride, even if it means we don't trot at all. And we work on TWO speeds of walk, and two of trot. That is about what he can handle right now.
But I can ride him with light contact if needed (I'm more western than English). He responds to an opening rein. I can ask him for a turn with my pinkie, and he responds some to my leg. My goal is what Barry Godden used to call "A Gentleman's Horse" - a reliable horse who can be ridden lightly, can trot side-by-side with another horse, handles himself around traffic or a trail, takes care of himself and his rider, etc. Bandit is making progress and I think he'll be a pretty decent horse by spring. He's 7 now. I'm 57. If we get good with each other, I might be riding him for 20 years...so I have time.
He'll always carry his head higher than some, given his breeding, but he's starting to carry it a lot lower as he relaxes.
On the plus side, he arrived here liking and trusting humans. I doubt I'll ever race him. I doubt I'll ever use him to chase coyotes - something he has done in the past. But he has a decent mind, like people, trusts people and tries. That's huge in my book!
If you aren't in the market for a finished horse, and I assume you aren't given the age of this one, then there is a lot to be said for looking for sound legs, sound mind, willing spirit and likes people. Then apply the training that meets your
The result may not take you very high in competition. But you'll learn a lot, and there is always a good market for a horse of sound mind who moves well and can handle the basics even with a kid on his back.
I like Bandit better than Trooper. We're a closer match that way. He's a better match for what I need in a horse than Mia was. But I miss the personality of the two Arabian mares I've owned. If Bandit and I bond over the next year or two, we may be together until he dies. If not...then a year or two from now, I'd have no trouble finding a good home for a reliable, confident, relaxed trail horse. I don't need to make him perfect. If I can make him a "Horse Without a List" (as Cherie would put it), I'll always have the option of finding him a good home and moving on.
Good luck with whatever you decide.