My 5 year old has decided to become afraid of the indoor arena after being in their for over a month. He will walk around politely and then decide he doesn't want to go by the back door. He will plant his feet and when you kick or hit him to do forward, he will back up and then rear and try to go the opposite direction. The sad part is that he isn't even afraid of the door. Its just an attempt to not follow direction. Even after you scold him and make him work, the next time you ride him the same thing happens. Kicking and hitting with a dressage whip doesn't seem to work. I have tried trotting him right away and he still just dead stops. He tries the same thing every time I ride. After I correct him, he won't pay attention and just wants to run around the ring upset. This has been happening for 50% of my rides the last 3 weeks! UGH!:mad
Last edited by horseluvr222; Mar. 21, 2013 at 02:20 PM.
Kicking and using the whip aren't likely to work in that situation, as you discovered Usually, what I'll do with a youngster who's resisting that way (barring that it's a pain or overwork response) is change exercises rapidly to redirect attention. For example: last week my 4 yo Holsteiner decided he wanted to fight the mirrors. Because "punishment" in a situation like that is going to increase the likelihood of 1) an escalated / dangerous reaction, or 2) development of an actual anxiety about the mirrors (ie: "Every time I go toward the mirrors, I get "bitten" with the whip"), I resort to many transitions, transitions in shoulder in, shoulder in through the corner to two strides of straight to counter bent to three strides of haunches in, etc. Anything to get the body and mind engaged. In this case two things happen: 1) the green bean is so focused on the increased work demands he forgets to act out. 2) The green bean learns that unwanted behaviors result in an increased workload.
My 5yo never went through the "terrible 4s," he saved it all up for the "horrible, awful, no-good 5s"
He, who showed all over the place last summer and rarely gave much of a look at anything while hacking, has become as spooky as they get in my arena at home. You know, the one he's been ridden in every ride since he was broke at 3? I agree with DFF. I *can* fight him on the issue, but it doesn't address the behavior. I've found that basically ignoring the actual issue and putting him to work near the distraction is the only thing that gets him working positively for the rest of the ride. So circles bent or counterbent, shoulders-in, haunches in, leg yields, transitions, and whatever else I decide to throw into the mix. Anything that forces him to think about his feet rather than the distraction (which varies from day to day). Once he's gone past the scary spot a few times while concentrating on something else he's usually good for the rest of the ride.
You mention that he's happy when jumping. Does the behavior go away after the jumps if you jump him, or is it only better while he's in the midst of jumping? I certainly wouldn't have a problem incorporating small jumps into his daily rides if that helped to focus his brain a bit and allowed you the rest of the ride to work normally. If it only works while he's in the midst of jumping, you might try to find things to occupy his brain for good rather than evil....i.e. poles or cavaletti, patterns...basically anything that makes him think in the same way that he does while jumping.