It was mental shut down at an extreme. Honestly I had no idea how to handle it, or how to prevent it. I know now that I drove him to shutting down. Every time I got frustrated and got rough with him he laid it all out that it was NOT okay. Unfortunately I had people telling me I was wrong, but no one told me how to do it right. People have such a habit of saying when things are wrong, that you're bad and what not. The level of frustration it creates when no one will tell you how to do it right. Obviously there was an issue that started it that needed to be handled, the way I handled it was incorrect and no one seemed to bother telling me that I was wrong. So next time I would try something else to only have everyone again giving me the harsh buzzer signal and "Wrong again!"attitude that would ring in my mind. Nothing worked, and I had little to no help. Any help that people offered either made him pick up NEW bad habits or didn't work in the slightest. I was frustrated, I just wanted to make it work and see progress and all I got was backwards training.
Jake became dangerous with his backing up. He paid no attention to what he was backing into or what he was backing off of. Trail riding became scary, if he got excited I would tighten up on the reins, Jake would only tolerate that for so long before he would be stuck in reverse. Riding near ledges, other horses, pedestrians became scary. It didn't matter if he was in his sliding gag bit, a snaffle or in a halter, he just did it.
|Jake coming to a stop at a barrel after I asked for a rate.|
Shortly after he backed up halfway across the arena.
Luckily it was slow enough that I just jumped off and landed on my feet. Also lucky is that he got up this time. Everyone thought I had forced him to backup because I was mad and then pulled him over backwards. I tried to explain a few times that Jake runs backwards on his own accord, everyone was rather closed minded and told me "No horse would back up like that on their own accord". Once again no one wanted to help.
But this became the starting point of retraining. I wasn't going to continue like this, it was dangerous for me, Jake and anyone around us. I finally understood that in its entirety and made the choice to pull back from competing. My trainer (who also saw the incident) was the only person who saw the problem and knew that something had to be done to correct it. She had me start by continuing the show but only at a walk/trot. I continued the showing series for the rest of the year only going at a walk trot to help calm him down.
I found out that turning was the way to get him to stop backing up. Soon as he thought about backing up I would dig an inside heel into his sides and turn his head to disengage his hindquarters, as long as his back legs were crossed he couldn't back up. It took several years to get him to stop thinking about backing up. But the deciding factor came to the point of avoiding frustration. Avoiding the point where he would mentally shut down and back up. That idea came after his backing up turned into rearing, I wish I had figured him out sooner and avoided so much drama. Sadly it took me so long to really understand him.
It became the starting point of me understanding that there was an importance and different between the running balls to the wall crazy, and actually building up to it through training.