Having been through this myself, I can add to mvrck’s suggestion with what worked for me. Try starting work in the middle of the ring, down the center line and working out to the rail and back again. I have bending poles in the ring and crossrails and barrels and trotting poles, and I use them all. LOL The deal with my most recalcitrant horse is that if he will do a successful training level dressage test without fussing, he gets to do the rest of the stuff until he’s happy. Doing it in the reverse order didn’t work. He enjoyed the warmup with the fun parts then was resentful and pissy when I tried to get him to the rail for the test. Over time you should be able to spend more and more time on the rail. Just for now, lose your focus on the “straight horse going straight” mantra and do circles, spirals, work over ground poles…anything that will keep his mind busy. He’ll hardly notice that he’s back to working the rail when it happens. But it might take time. This isn’t something you can rush. No anger or frustration. Just come up with a new plan for each session and be happy with what you get in the way of progress. He may be bored. They do that, and when they do, they come up with things to occupy themselves. If you change your focus, your stress level should drop considerably. There’s no law that says you always have to work on the rail. In fact, an internationally-ranked dressage rider/trainer once told me never to do dressage more than two days a week. He said to jump two days, dressage two days, trail ride two days, and just mess around on the off day, and that would keep my horses from burning out. It works.
Horses In the Yard