Heidi is a good trail horse (hence the interest in endurance), but she has issues in the arena. I don’t mean quirks. I mean ISSUES.
When I got her, she would not go forward in an arena. She would buck or rear. I restarted her completely and did everything in baby steps, teeny tiny increments, so that she could get completely used to each new thing before moving on.
Now I can ride her with no problem in the arena, but only at the walk. Now we’re moving on to trotting. Before you suggest pain or saddle fit, let me assure you, all of that has been checked. She trots like a dream on the trail. Her first response in the arena to anything new is NO, and I’m working on rewiring her brain to say, ‘Okay, we can try that.’
Slowly but surely, we’re making progress. She used to pin her ears and get pissy every time I asked for the trot. She would trot a couple steps and quit. At first I rewarded those two steps. That was her version of a try. You have to reward the try if you want to keep getting it!
Now we’re getting halfway around our little arena at the trot, and the ear pinning is getting less pronounced. She’s becoming more willing to try. I spent all winter getting her in shape. She looks great and I can tell she feels better. But man, that mental component is tough. It takes a lot of patience to work through that stuff!