Question # 341: Amy has a question about a new horse she is riding, who is not a big fan of flatwork!

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I recently took over the ride on a talented but fairly willful Half Arab, a breed that's a bit outside of my wheelhouse having always owned and ridden OTTB's. He's a dream to jump and is light and responsive over fences, but is the complete opposite with flat work.

He did not have the best start, being jammed into a false frame with a kimberwick and pelham from 3-5 years old, so now at 6 I have quite a bit of undoing to do.(head tilt and all) He's making progress in straightness and leg yielding, but he's a total crab about it all. He'll try all the evasions(above the bit, behind the bit, the occasional rear) to get away from actually using himself before he realize I won't give up, then he grudgingly does what I ask. It is getting easier as time goes on, but I worry about making him sour, but I also know that I need to get him through it, So I have to find that balance of insisting he do that work and but not over doing it.

So I guess my question is do you have any strategies for a horse with a defiant personality like this? Any exercises that you could recommend blending to together that could mitigate his dislike of flat work? I have started to end my flat sessions with just a few jumping lines to remind him that we have fun too.

I'd love to know your thoughts. (Amy) 


Hi Amy!


This sounds like a good challenge for you! Every horse has something to teach you, and it sounds like this horse will have plenty of things to teach you. :)  Have a look at this article, which discusses dealing with horses that are somewhat dominant or defiant by nature. You say that since he likes to jump you let him end your flat sessions with a few jumps... But what I would try instead is... (Click on Question Title above to read full answer)

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