Just want to throw this out there on a Wednesday afternoon. I popped out to see a regular this morning and her main horse is out of action, so we spent some time with the field buddy. My client said to me that she had taught the mare some groundwork but she really didn't want to go backwards. She started tapping the pony on the chest with her stick and the little mare dug in her heels and refused to move. Sounds like a classic 'stubborn' pony, right?
So I asked the owner whether she thought the pony understood that she had to go backwards? She wasn't sure. We broke down the backup into bite sized pieces for the pony- first can you go back off the halter, just for one step. At that point, the pony shut down and left the conversation, so I described what was going on in the horse's head. Eventually the pony became mentally present again and we were able to continue. We worked with this for a little while, until the pony was backing softly off the halter. Then we introduced the lightest cue from the stick and then supported with the already taught halter aid. Within 5 minutes the pony was backing softly from the lightest suggestion.
In short, the owner thought the pony was being stubborn. The pony was confused. I love being able to help situations like this.