Whoa Doat! Was a saying that a friends niece had used one time & it just stuck with me. So now when I'm working with Oreo, I say it when she doesn't Whoa or slow the first time. lol
Ground work is so important. Most everything you want your horse to do while riding should begin on the ground. Figuring out how to stay out of your space, turning, flexing, & backing. Oreo has quite a long legged walk & sometimes she veers into my space when walking near the side of her head. A simple jiggle of the lead makes her slow a step but still continue forward. It's something new she is learning & it will take some time for her to catch onto the idea of staying out of my space, but she is getting there.
Using pressure & release rather than force is a much better, safer way to train your horse. For one reason, they've got you beat by at least 900-1000 lbs. Pushing around a horse by force just doesn't make sense when they do respond to pressure. Some horses respond faster & better with light pressure & some it takes a bit longer for them to catch on to what you're asking. Patience is key in any relationship especially with your horse. If you lose your calm, they will too & if yours is anything like mine, they become unruly in a hurry.
I start out my time brushing front to back, side to side body, mane, tail & forelock. I pick out feet & then begin my ground work. Today we worked a walk/trot in a round pen for about 15 minutes on both sides. Just to get the blood flowing all throughout & especially to the brain. Oreo was in more of a sleepy eating mood, so walking/trotting is a good little wake up. I'm concentrating on building her back & leg muscles as well as her flexibility in turns. I'm using a raised dead log as a cavaletti & I send her over one way, ask her to turn back & go the other so she's flexing & bending away from me to walk over the log. Sometimes she doesn't want to watch where she's going so she'll trip a bit, catch herself & hesitate. I suspect a bit of a long toe has something to do with it so the farrier will visit soon to make sure she's got a good foundation to walk/stand on. lol
If you're having problems with the Whoa Doat! while riding, try working from the ground first. Establish what you mean & expect when you say Whoa! Your ride will go more smoothly when you warm up from the ground up. Experiment with your horse to see just how he/she responds to your pressure. As you go along you should be able to use less & less pressure to get the results you're asking for. Always, always always end on a positive note. When your horse does what you ask & his head is lowered & you both are relaxed, end the lesson there. They really remember the last thing they done & will be easier to do next time. If they got it down pat, move onto the next exercise. If they aren't quite getting it, keep doing it until you get even one step in the right direction. Eventually you'll have a relationship with your horse unlike any other. Happy Trails!