I have a real problem with people describing horses as being difficult. This isn’t a secret and it isn’t anything I’ll ever apologize for.
When you call a horse difficult you completely dismiss and disregard them as an individual creature who has its own set of emotions, feeling and motivations; just as humans do.
If a horse is being difficult it’s because you made them that way or gave them a reason to be.
Today I watched this brief video of Larry Trocha explaining a ride on young mare:
This is a kinda interesting filly because she’s really well bred, she’s bred to be a top horse. I own this horse. Her conformation is really good, her breeding is really good. Unfortunately, she’s just really difficult to train. She’s pretty hard-headed. She resents being asked to do things. She’s fairly stubborn. And she’s fractious on top of it. And so it’s just really difficult to deal with.
— Larry Trocha
When you watch the video, notice he remarks about this mare that she first doesn’t respond quickly enough so he kicks her – the first time is a really big and over-the-top kick. It’s completely unnecessary in how sharp it is in my opinion; and naturally the mare reacts accordingly to this over-applied aid.
I wouldn’t call her behavior an over-reaction, I think she reacted an appropriate amount for that given aid (which was over-applied).
And what continues throughout the ride after is the mare being reactive to his aids until she begins to ignore their over-application. When this happens Larry then remarks that she’s finally beginning to settle into the work (specifically commenting on the change in her posture and appearance of her ears/expression).
This mare is not difficult; Larry Trocha is being a difficult rider.
If your horse is over-reacting then you are over-applying an aid or you are inciting pain or fear in your horse. That is nothing to be blamed on the horse; the ownership is 100% on you as a rider.
You solve ‘over-reaction’ in your horse by reducing the amount of pressure, speed, pain or fear that you’re inciting with your aids with until the reaction is appropriate. IT REALLY IS THAT SIMPLE, this is not fucking rocket science, and if it was you’d know you blew up your space ship because you put too much rocket fuel in the tank.
But the saddest thing about this whole situation, is that this mare was subsequently passed through (at least) 5 more owners and trainers who also completely failed this horse.
So next time you’re out riding your horse and they’re not responding; if you give them a hard kick or yank on the reins then act surprised when they return a huge reaction please do your horse a favor and punch yourself in the face. Punch yourself in the face as hard as you can so you can burn that lesson into your memory and never forget your horse was giving the perfect response to your shitty riding.