Rehab, trainer and behavior specialist. 20 + yrs exp.
What is coming up for me is possible imbalance that is also mostly hidden its so subtle most folks won't catch it. But after 15-20 min it seems too much for his mind to grapple with. My senses tell me he's a straight shooter, especially given your exp with him on the trail. Give him the benefit of the doubt and begin looking for the subtler clues.
Give u his all he would. He is giving you silent cues but those are probably too subtle to see really. He only knows how to up the ante to be heard "ouch this hurts - I really need to stop now!"
Most massage therapists and chiros wont "see" this particular issue. And unless your vet is a specialist in joint or movement dysfunction (i only know of a handful that study movement abnormalities) he might not see it unless he watched your entire lesson session with this horse under saddle. Since he has been cleared, you can go deeper into muscular skeletal imbalances now as well as emotional issues.
This is not a training issue based on what you've said and based on your examples of his mindset on the trail. Other than maybe we have to adjust how you ask your horse to do things in the arena. Might be very complicated to sort out - might be a simple tweak. Takes time to find it though.
he knows how to compensate for this shortcoming, mostly. trails he wont run into this issue as much - it makes perfect sense, really. From his perspective. From ours, its fearful, worrisome, frustrating, and downright maddening at times. You see his potential - but what is this insanity about trying to buck me off in the arena? I am not asking for much. No more than i am on the trails... - but to him and to his body - you could be subtlely asking him for too much.
The work in the arena is very different insofar as the how in the biomechanics of how the joints operate. An the how in how our relationship interplays with one another in the arena.
Might be some stretching and rehabilitation. And lateral work to rebuild And support the structures.
I would not rule out the physical. Or the emotional just yet. I cannot tell you how many vets and chiros have missed the subtlest things that make all the difference in how a horse moves. I also cannot tell you how many expert riders and trainers i see unconsciously tense up in the arena - causing their horse to tense. it takes a very careful eye to notice the subtlties of such things. A slight intake of breath, the deliberate relaxation of thigh or back that immediately tenses when the focus changes to something else. The focus of an impending fight - even just entering the arena - all these things happen in a split second. All these tensions cause chaos to the joints and supporting systems that are responsible for the mechanics of movement. Also causes chaos to the horse. Why is she tensing? Why? Is something about to happen? What is the matter? Am i doing it wrong? I dont feel good, i need to stop, something hurts
Think about all the thoughts running thru your mind- to not think the same thing is happening on his end - well, we can only speculate.
If you Resolve the underlying issue - the behavior will disappear. But might take a few weeks, months. Lots of strategies can be employed but I would advise against riding him through it just yet - as it might just blow his mind and make him worse - if i am right. You could end up with a ticking time bomb on your hands. However, we dont know if i am right or not. You will need to feel this out for yourself if this makes sense to you.
Caveat here - i have not seen this horse move out or work. I do not know him. I do not know his mind or his attitude about work in general -
however between you and me, i have never met a lazy horse or a horse who did not love to work as long as he was of sound mind and body. These are deeply noble creatures.
Realize these are animals instinctually built to be on the go - constantly. No horse intentionally wants to get out of work unless there is more pain involved in the work than pleasure. To assume the horse is trying to get out of working is anthropomorphizing. I believe the horse is only choosing to unseat his rider rather than endure anymore pain - either physical or psychological. Simple as that. Resolve the imbalance - whatever it is, regain his confidence and trust and the issue will disappear like it never happened. This takes patience and a willingness to see more than just a stubborn horse. You have to decide if you have that kind of time and patience.
if you have a lazy or difficult horse - there is always, always an underlying issue.
I cannot give a professional opinion on this Matter here. It is however what his symptoms are pointing to. You defi nitely ride different in arena than on trails - everyone does. Its compensatory and completely unconscious. And he carries his body very differently in an arena than on a trail. Every horse does. Again unconscious. But necessary.
Most of all, do not lose faith. He has something special to give you in this experience between you and him.
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