Help/Ideas with troubleshooting bad ring behavior!

Hi guys! I am new to this whole forum thing but I was looking to get some outside perspectives on the hiccups I’ve been having with my thoroughbred Elvis. We’ve only been together just short of a year and have made tremendous progress thus far with his weight and basics, but the winter weather and more time off has seemed to bring along some bad behavior when we do get a chance to get in the ring.

Some background on Elvis that could be helpful : He’ll be 10 this April. I got him from a breeding/lay up farm where he was said to have been leased for a while but then had almost a year off due to the leaser losing interest. His previous owners had retrained him slightly but did so by consistently riding him in a neck stretcher and draw reins (even jumping :no:). Even with only having three rides prior to me trying him, he was calm and collected on a 30mph wind day with tarps flying near the ring. He did have an old bow that flared up a few months into me owning him from a pasture incident, he was on stall rest for about 5 months, came back sound, cold and set and has been back in work (more consistently in the summer) since August.

My trainer and I have had a hard time figuring out how to get him to understand and accept contact - I’m sure this has something to do with constantly being ridden with aids. Different bits and exercises have helped and I believe we are on our way up with the contact issue - although I’d love recommendations on that if there are any! Our current issue has been corners. My last three or four rides have consisted of him traveling fine along the straight aways of the ring, but as soon as we get to the corner by the gate, he digs his feet into the ground - backs up and as even offered a slight rear. This is totally new to me considering even when he had 5 months of stall rest, he came back quiet as can be, trotting all around the ring on a loose rein some days. He will also do this if I am going half ring to the right on the far side of the arena. Seems to be only this direction and only once we approach the corner/gate/fence. I haven’t gotten a full rear out of him yet thankfully and would love to nip this in the butt before it gets worse, weather permitting! It seems to help slightly if I wear spurs - but I will admit I can get timid in the few seconds of him fighting me because he has never shown this before. I plan on trying to lunge him in the problem areas once we get a few days of sunshine so our ring can defrost - although lunging is not is strong suit either. Any kind of tips/ideas/positive criticism will help and thank you in advance!

NOTE-- This is all assuming that he has vetted sound and has no soreness or pain issues. (Make sure feet look good, bow is healed, teeth have been done (especially…sometimes one sidedness can be the result of having sharp hooks/points on teeth on that side.) Get teeth checked before having a come to jesus meeting with him.

Try putting some trot poles right before the area he does it, so he has to pay attention to something else, and then be very assertive about going forward. It doesn’t have to be a bunch of them. Even 3 or 4 trot poles on the ground would help.

Carry a crop in the hand on the side that he tries to turn in to. Don’t let him stop, change directions, NO MATTER WHAT. It might not be pretty. GROWL at him with a AHHH! GEEETTTT UUUPP TTHHERRE!!! as you get after him.

It sounds like he is just being a brat.

I’d also very rarely ride him just along the rail. He’s be spending the next 2 months doing serpentines, circles, rollbacks, to keep him paying attention. And you need to REALLY reinforce forward (both on the ground and in the saddle). If you ask for forward and he hesitates, I’d really get after him. I’d bet he has pulled the resistance thing on the ground as well, whether it is not wanting to walk into a wash stall, past a scary object, away from grass or buddies. That carries over to under saddle.

Presuming there is no pain, I have just been through this with our OTTTB and it was our own fault.

Naturally there is one part of the circle that is the hardest. The part that is closest to their unsaddling area usually.

Add to this we were only working on a circle on the furthest end of the arena with the surface being too deep near ‘A’. Add to that us riding to ‘A’ to dismount. This caused a huge problem when I finally went to go large.

I am a good rider so I was able to get him forward when he tried everything else. He only jumped and kicked out with one leg, if he had used 2 it would have been a capriole! They must go forwards is the first rule.

Next we now dismount on the E-B line facing C.

Next we lead up past ‘A’ to exit at ‘C’.

So far so good.

I went through something similar with my young horse this year.

Frankly, I handed him off to the trainer. The fact that I was hesitating to send him forward meant I was not the right rider to fix his issue at that moment.

It only took the trainer a couple rides and then I was back on him, but only in lessons for a couple weeks so that I had someone telling me forward/forward/forward.

Once I was asking for forward before she needed to tell me, I went back to riding on my own.

It was the hesitation that convinced me I wasn’t the right rider for the immediate situation. I knew what I should do, but I wasn’t doing it. So I felt the safest path for both of us was to let the trainer fix him first, before he really started to think his particular evasion was a good idea, and then focus on fixing my reaction.

The horse has a problem with “forward,” he is picking and choosing when he will listen to the “forward” aids, and it’s also a respect issue. A couple things you posted make me think that you are allowing him to dictate the training sessions. It doesn’t matter where you are in the ring or what you are asking the horse to do, he is either trying to figure it out, or he is saying “no.” A horse with a lazy “no” will respond better when you increase your aids, a horse with a disrespectful “no” will get a little ignorant.

Getting him soft and moving forward on the ground will help with these issues, as well as the problem with him accepting contact at specific times. Lunging doesn’t do much imho, I’d work on going forward, giving to the bit, moving hips and shoulders on cue and softly in both directions.

Winter does have it’s challenges, my horses all get groundwork before I get on in the winter because I do ride only sporadically, and I expect that there will be some resistance and disrespect just due to lack of work.

Are you taking him DEEP into the corners? Perhaps too deep for his level of physical ability (at the moment).

Also a leg yield helps with rears - hard to rear if legs are crossed, although forward is the best bet. For corners (if you’re not pushing him deeper than he is currently comfortable - if he starts a “stall” then leg yield deeper into corner for a stride or two and drive him forward.

Maybe during his time off he got a bit stiff? Maybe a chiro adjustment with some massage? Won’t hurt and may help (since this is a new problem).