My horse has a problem. When I go out to ride her, she does perfectly fine; until I make her go in this one little area. I practice barrels in my horse pen. She does the barrels just fine, but the problem is trying to make her do the barrels. I have this telephone pole in the pen so I use the pole and the wire as kind of an alley way, and she won't go through it to practice the pattern. She backs up, goes the other way, throws her head, and even rears up. My thought was that her mouth hurts, she needs her teeth floated, or maybe because she just doesn't want to do what she needs to. Please help! Thanks!
Two things may be going on here: One would be that she does have some physical (pain) issue going on. Horses teeth need to be checked at least once a year, so if it has been longer then that you should have that done anyway.
Gymnkana horses are often subjected (by way of the event itself) to tight turns and stops which cause them physical and mental distress. You could definitely try a Bitless Bridle on her, but she may also be telling you in the only way that she can, that going through the alley way you created to run the barrels obviously means that she is going to be made to "run the barrels".
She may well be getting soured about the whole business. You have to make sure that she is indeed physically and mentally the right horse for gaming. You have to be sure that she is not sore in her back, legs, mouth, etc. Not wanting to be subjected to something she finds hurtful or frightening does not make her a bad horse. How often do you run your pattern? Most gamers need to only run the pattern every once in a while. The flexibility and speed come from training done in an arena that has nothing to do with a barrel pattern.You need to reschool her, as hunter riders need to do if their horse becomes nappy about jumping.
Start just leading her through the alley and into the barrel pattern area and just stroke her and give her a treat and then lead her out. Start walking her on her back with low energy on your part into the arena, and back out again. Start just walking the pattern, and only run it occasionally when she is accepting it again. There are many patterns that will help your horse gain speed and suppleness without running the pattern, and I would be glad to share them with you.
It is not fun to force a horse to do something. Do not listen to people that will tell you she is stubborn or stupid, lazy, etc.and to MAKE her do it. Beware of negatively labeling animals. You are the trainer...it is your job to find the source of her problem and deal with it in a humane way.
Thanks for writing in.