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It is ONLY when other horses and riders are in the arena just standing in the middle talking. We will be walking around the arena warming up or cooling down, and he will stop dead in his tracks and REFUSE to go forward and will keep backing and backing trying to get to the center of the arena with the others. So I tell him walk on, and tap his butt with the whip if he ignores me, and it gets his attention and he immediately goes forward. I can tell when he's about to do it and I click him forward and touch his butt with the whip so he knows I have it if he needs a reminder.

Riding in the arena alone, or with other horses that are being ridden (not just standing in the middle) he does great. Its just when riders are sitting on their horses in the center of the arena talking and he wants to join his buddies.

Am I going about this the right way?
 

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ask some riders to help, ask them to go to the center...when your horse wants to join, let him.. Then work his butt hard circling them, then walk him calmly away. If he tries to go back, let him and work him hard again. He will eventually realize that "joining the crowd" is hard work.
 

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You may want to start encouraging before he even starts doing it, so there's no slow down at all. When a horse gets "stuck" in a particular spot in the arena, you start encouraging before they even slow down, so they don't get stuck at all. You have to be proactive about it. If you know they're going to try and stop in a certain part of the arena, don't even let them slow down at that part.
 

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You can work through this, there are a lot of different things you can do, you'll have to figure out which works best for you. They say if a horse tries to back to evade work or get his way, you should back him. Back him all the way around the ring, back him in circles... back back back. It may start out his idea, but it finishes your idea. You can try circling and serpentining when he does that as well, he doesn't want to go a specific way because he wants to be with his friends so you start towards them and then turn away and then head towards and turn away and continue on, starts out his idea, finishes yours.

The key is to keep him working and doing what you ask, not what he wants. You don't have to keep him on the rail to win. A win is a win....
 

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whichever of these things you decide to apply, apply it! move into your decision with committment. if you kiss, then cluck , then brandish the whip, then tap him, that' way too much. wake him up by asking once, then wham! whip on him , or on your boot , really fast and loud. my guess is if he realizes there is not openning for discussion, he will not raise the subject.
 

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It sounds as if what you're doing is working so I would stick with that - begin to ride him harder the moment you feel him tense up and begin to think about following them, the secret to solving the problem turning into something worse is let him know he isn't going to do what he wants but what you want right from the 'get go'
 

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I have had success with working the horse around close to the group of horses in the middle and resting away from the group.

Just be really consistent and clear with whichever route you choose to take.

Good luck!
 
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