Two rides ago, my mare decided she wasn’t going to move one inch if it was away from where her pasture mates were. Whether they are hanging out in the barn or literally standing beside the fence of the arena, she will only go toward her friends. She will walk or trot toward friends, but she won’t go away. We don’t do much when we ride, and she is super smart. We usually just walk and trot around in the arena or pasture. I almost wonder if she is just bored and fed up with the pointlessness of our riding?? I fixed the problem the first time by leading her fairly far off the property where we would have a longer ride back to the barn. I knew she would at least go forward toward the barn where her friends were, and I hoped that from there, she would be more willing to do some other things. We finished strong by trotting in the field away from friends and then I let her be done for the day. Then I rode her a second time. It was infuriating. We were in the arena, and her friend was right next to her. I got her to trot toward her friend and make a full circle. Then when I tried to go the other way she walked maybe five steps. I knew I needed to push her forward and get her focused. I asked for a trot and she wouldn’t budge. I turned her in tiny circles but every time I asked her to walk out straight, she would only stop again. Eventually, instead of turning with her feet, she just turned her neck, not moving her feet at all. At that point I had really lost the argument. I thought it was maybe a tack issue, so I took off her saddle and rode her bareback. She did the same thing. Instead of kicking her hard I just starting to be really annoying with lots of little bumps and clucks until I could get one step. Then I’d praise her. Putting her to work and getting her going was not an option. Kicking her and smacking her did nothing. Verbally saying “trot” did nothing.
So possible options
- wicked smart pony is incredibly bored
- saddle doesn’t fit - I have ridden her 3 times in that saddle without this behavior, though. . . Maybe the saddle was up on her shoulder without me realizing, and then she just got irritated?
- She’s suddenly buddy sour after about 4 years of never doing this.
-she leads politely - a newer development, so I would have to think her improvement means she respects me
- she doesn’t want me to catch her, but if I don’t have a halter she is super friendly. Usually when I talk baby talk to her, she lets me catch her with the halter without too much running around - this has gotten progressively worse, while the leading part has gotten progressively better - weird
- she lets me mount without too much of a fuss
- nobody works with her but me most of the time. I had a friend come out a week and a half ago, who suggested I use the other saddle, and she rode the pony, too, in that saddle, as did I
- I can do all kinds of fun stuff with her on the ground, and she really enjoys obstacles and such, but I don’t use them when I ride, because it’s just sticks and things, and so I worry they’ll fall apart or something.
- she’s kind of bratty and independent to begin with, but such a good girl, at the end of the day, and she loves to learn
My current solutions for the past 3 sessions since our last ride
- spend time with her, do fun leading stuff, make sure she trusts me on the ground, and keep it really fun and different - that’s worked really well!!
- buy ground poles and make a couple of safe jumps for her - did this, but it’s been too rainy for us to ride. I made a sort of jumping course of a ground poles and then I also have 2 jumps I made - itty bitty cross rails. I hope that having something interesting to do in the arena will engage her better - I really do think she may just be incredibly bored
- try better to make compromises and keep things interesting so she knows I am listening to her and speaking her language.
So what would y’all suggest? Do you think it’s a tack thing or a bratty thing? Do you think it’s boredom, herd bound issues, or our relationship as horse and rider? Any advise would be great!!!