Oh geez… Let me clarify… My horse and I have an excellent bond and trust. When I brought him home nearly 5 years ago, he had numerous issues and was super spooky and balked at/ ran from everything. I didn’t ride him for many months thanks to hours upon hours of ground work needed to build that trust. Now, he’s amazing on the ground (again thanks to many many many hours of previous and continued groundwork) and had come a long way under saddle. He knows his job & how he’s supposed to behave, but has started to be a brat (under saddle only).
I’m hesitant to say he’s barn or buddy sour since some days he’s pumped and ready to hit the trail without issue and rides out with just about anyone. I should also clarify that he will test in the arena, but it’s rare, short-lived, and easier to correct. True, I’m not afraid of falling off an incline/ cliff, getting hit by a car, or stomping on a hiker in the arena… but there are always multiple other hazards that could pose a threat… other riders moving faster, other horses that can bite or kick,and my not wanting to touch the electric fence or get dumped in the water trough…I don’t think that’s the issue. Besides, I would think that any rational rider would be a little intimidated if their normally quiet, easy going, la-de-da, best 4-legged buddy decided he was going to back them into or off of something after never having a problem.
Yes, he knows leg/ body cues based mostly on where I’m looking.
He trusts and sees me as the “alpha” enough to ride with most horse/rider combos that we go out with (new or familiar), open and close gates leading to trails from saddle, maneuver obstacles both on and off property (cross bridges and water, walk through snow gates, step on stands, walk over tarps, through kiddie pools, ride with a large flag, ride without a bit/ bridle/ halter, self load into a trailer, etc).
Unfortunately, I feel that both of us are sensitive to others (horses and riders) and sense the vibes we get (pinned ears, mean comments, failure to respect our space, running up behind/ biting, etc). This leads to us riding in the back or away from other riders to avoid being on our toes the entire ride - annoying when you just want to meander peacefully down trail and enjoy nature. We’ve been left behind when riding with a group that simply didn’t give a crap when he had to relieve himself. He was fine not catching up and being away from them since one of the horses was being difficult and pulling these similar shenanigans. (Could this be a learned behavior?)
Again, he’s not really afraid and there isn’t what I would call a trust issue, but more of a battle of wills. What’s more frustrating is that it’s not consistent which makes it difficult to correct on a regular basis.
Like I mentioned originally, this is a newer problem that we’ve been working through. I was just hoping for suggestions to move getting past this issue along faster as it’s quite annoying, not pointing of fingers and the blame game. We know we have an issue and we’re attempting to work through it.