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Calhoun
Aug. 7, 2009, 03:19 PM
For those of you who have backed and trained youngsters.

I have a young horse with an excellent temperament who was backed 2 months ago and is ridden 3X a week. He has been a dream so far, very easy, the trainer has even walked him around the fields alone (no companion horse) and he handles it w/ no problem.

Although my discipline is dressage, the trainer I picked is H/J with excellent references. She has started to canter the horse and he often misses the right lead and when he gets it swaps back to the wrong lead. I made the comment to her this week we should slow down on the cantering and go back to walk/trot/halt,etc. and if he offers canter she can just go with it. This gal rolls her eyes and makes a comment that we should be doing exercises to strengthen his weak side so he can pick up the correct lead. Then I get a little backhanded joke . . . I've never understood why dressage riders wait so long to teach lead changes.

Just to make it clear, I really like this gal and realize we have a small clash of the riding cultures and all the work she has done so far is quite good. There is something in the back of my mind that is telling me to slow it down a notch due to this horse's willing/kind temperament, I don't want him pushed.

BTW, this is my third youngster, but have never had one so easy, easy. This is my first time working w/ this trainer.

What has been your experience with canter and the young horse?

Rooty
Aug. 7, 2009, 04:05 PM
That they're all different?
Some find it easy, some find it hard, some horses find their balance under a rider more quickly than others. I prefer the slow approach, and if the horse's walk/trot work is far enough along that canter can be introduced, then if they are having difficulty with one lead I am quite happy for them to pick up the correct lead, canter a few strides with lots of praise and go back to trot until the balance and strength improves.
I also like lungeing so when they are in this phase I'll work on the canter first on the lunge, make sure they can balance themselves on the lunge without a rider before asking for it at all under saddle.

ToN Farm
Aug. 7, 2009, 04:40 PM
This gal rolls her eyes and makes a comment that we should be doing exercises to strengthen his weak side so he can pick up the correct lead. Then I get a little backhanded joke . . . I've never understood why dressage riders wait so long to teach lead changes.
Yes, exercises to strengthen the weak side are appropriate, but not by insisting on canter. I would stay with trot until the horse is more symetrical.

The second comment would concern me. If this trainer doesn't understand why dressage riders wait to teach changes, then I would be concerned that she doesn't fully understand the importance of straightness.

vbunny
Aug. 7, 2009, 06:19 PM
Lots of different ways to do things and finish at the same end...just saying...

slc2
Aug. 7, 2009, 06:42 PM
Unless it isn't the same thing, LOL.

For those of you who have backed and trained youngsters.

--When a younger person, yes, more recently, young horses and green horses, but too old to back youngsters these days.

...backed 2 months ago and is ridden 3X a week....Although my discipline is dressage, the trainer I picked is H/J ...She has started to canter the horse and he often misses the right lead and when he gets it swaps back to the wrong lead.

I made the comment to her this week we should slow down on the cantering and go back to walk/trot/halt,etc. and if he offers canter she can just go with it.

--Even in this situation I don't see why avoid cantering. How will the horse get better at it otherwise. Unless the horse is severely under-developed, so weak from recovering from a hind quarter or back injury. Most youngsters can canter on both leads, if helped to do so.

This gal rolls her eyes and makes a comment that we should be doing exercises to strengthen his weak side so he can pick up the correct lead.

--What exercises are going to make a green horse not a green horse? All horses are born very slightly different on either side - they BECOME weak on one side after years of being ridden crooked and unevenly.

--Horses pick up the wrong lead, usually, because of the way they are ridden, even green horses, even just backed horses. Put someone else up on your horse before concluding horsey needs some special exercises.

Then I get a little backhanded joke . . . I've never understood why dressage riders wait so long to teach lead changes.

--Because they do flying lead changes from a collected canter. Hunt seat flying lead changes are supposed to be flat across the ground, not collected, and are supposed to be done out of a half seat hand gallop or hunter canter.

-- You want hunter changes and a hunter canter? Train your horse with hunt seat methods. You may feel awful smug about it, but only til you show dressage at third level and get served.

--LOL. Still doesn't mean you should avoid cantering.

Just to make it clear, I really like this gal and realize we have a small clash of the riding cultures and all the work she has done so far is quite good. There is something in the back of my mind that is telling me to slow it down a notch due to this horse's willing/kind temperament, I don't want him pushed.

--The assumption is that cantering, which is pretty natural for a horse, is 'pushing' the horse. And that he is not picking up one lead because he is being 'pushed too fast', when actually, he's probably going along thinking, boy, i wish someone would straighten this out, so i can canter. Horses LOVE to canter, and it strengthens them and develops them and supples them and gives them a reward for putting up with all that boring stuff.

--Training without one gait is not good, balanced training. If the horse is not picking up one lead, there is a riding problem. Correct the problem, the horse will pick up the canter lead.

BTW, this is my third youngster, but have never had one so easy, easy. This is my first time working w/ this trainer.

What has been your experience with canter and the young horse?

--My experience has been that horses that don't pick up one lead, get a different rider, and they pick up that lead. They need a balancing or straightening that they aren't getting.

--If the horse is so weak he can't canter around the ring on one lead, get a vet. If he's a giant baby huey and can't hang onto his lead around a corner because he's a little gawky, take him out in a big field and canter him.

Home Again Farm
Aug. 7, 2009, 06:51 PM
Yes, exercises to strengthen the weak side are appropriate, but not by insisting on canter. I would stay with trot until the horse is more symetrical.

The second comment would concern me. If this trainer doesn't understand why dressage riders wait to teach changes, then I would be concerned that she doesn't fully understand the importance of straightness.

I don't see asking for canter as a problem. However, if this is your future dressage horse, I would not want changes introduced at this point. Changes for a hunter or jumper have very different requirements than for a dressage horse. Even though he is young and green, it is best to think about the long haul and your hoped for destination. :yes:

KBEquine
Aug. 7, 2009, 08:45 PM
My question is less 'what stage of training' this horse is at & more 'could this horse be in a growth spurt?'

I had a 4 y.o. warmblood cross who "lost" his right lead for several weeks once. Had it consistently & "poof!" it was gone. My then-trainer told me not to worry about it - when youngsters go through growth spurts, their balance sometimes changes so they aren't comfortable doing certain things. He said the right lead would return when the horse was physically ready.

Two weeks later, it was back. We didn't do anything special to get it back, just waited for the horse to be ready. Shortly thereafter, he lost his left lead for a shorter period of time in a different growth spurt. It, too, returned without incident (other than low scores at a schooling show during the period it went missing!)

It really could be as simple as that.

Blackberry Farm
Aug. 7, 2009, 09:10 PM
Ditto slc2. :)

slc2
Aug. 7, 2009, 09:35 PM
check is in the mail hon.

meupatdoes
Aug. 7, 2009, 10:43 PM
Yes, exercises to strengthen the weak side are appropriate, but not by insisting on canter. I would stay with trot until the horse is more symetrical.

The second comment would concern me. If this trainer doesn't understand why dressage riders wait to teach changes, then I would be concerned that she doesn't fully understand the importance of straightness.

OK, but consider the notion that there are like eleventy billion ponies at WEF doing their lead changes toting 6yos around, and around the corner at White Fences are eleventy billion 40-50ish ammy ladies dreaming of one day, perhaps mayhap, if the stars are kind enough to align and if they have the lesson of their life, getting to do a lead change.

[Cue Slick's clarion cry "IT'S NOT THE SAME EGADS IT'S NOT THE SAME."]

Perhaps a horse's entire dressage career will not be ruined if his early lead changes are not poifekt.

slc2
Aug. 7, 2009, 10:48 PM
Actually that would be the hardest thing there is to fix once the animal has 'learned' (either by oops, do it again, ooops, do it again, etc or by just intentionally teaching him the wrong way) and yes, actually, it doesn't usually GET fixed.

And yes, actually, hunter and dressage changes are different, according to all the dressage trainers I've worked with, AND according to any of the hunter trainers I've ever even spoken with about it.

And no, actually, horses don't learn to do things by making the same mistake over and over and one time out of ten doing it right, actually, that way, they learn to make the same mistake over and over again. As one trainer told one of her students, 'do anything else wrong over and over, but not that'.

Repeating mistakes in changes is not good. It lowers and lowers and lowers the chance that the horse will do mistake free changes when it counts.

meupatdoes
Aug. 7, 2009, 11:05 PM
Actually that would be the hardest thing there is to fix once the animal has 'learned' (either by oops, do it again, ooops, do it again, etc or by just intentionally teaching him the wrong way) and yes, actually, it doesn't usually GET fixed.

And yes, actually, hunter and dressage changes are different, according to all the dressage trainers I've worked with, AND according to any of the hunter trainers I've ever even spoken with about it.

And no, actually, horses don't learn to do things by making the same mistake over and over and one time out of ten doing it right, actually, that way, they learn to make the same mistake over and over again. As one trainer told one of her students, 'do anything else wrong over and over, but not that'.

Repeating mistakes in changes is not good. It lowers and lowers and lowers the chance that the horse will do mistake free changes when it counts.

Well I guess I'm just entirely screwed then because here I am doing dressage with my show hunter (trained WRONG WRONG WRONG by me, of course) and an ex western pleasure horse (omg the EGREGIOUS WRONGNESS lawd halp us)

Good to know they were ruined before I even set foot in the dressage barn.

Guess I'll hang up my hat and retire 'em.

atr
Aug. 7, 2009, 11:25 PM
No, not wrong, just different. And if this is a young horse that is destined for a competitive dressage career, why not teach it the correct way FOR THAT DISCIPLINE from the start? It really will make life easier for both horse and rider down the line.

Even at first/second level, having a horse that thinks it's supposed to autochange rather than countercanter a loop or a serpentine makes life a lot more difficult. You don't want to get after it for changing because you really don't want it to think change = bad, because that'll screw you when you get to actually doing flying changes.

Unless of course you just want to be argumentative for the sake of it.

EqTrainer
Aug. 7, 2009, 11:39 PM
This is not a hard one to handle. Tell the trainer that he is not going to be a hunter and it is very important that he not be encouraged to swap or change leads at this time in his life, that it will mess up his future training.

It's always good to mention how happy you are with the other aspects of his training at this point :winkgrin:

Otherwise, I think there are a lot of hunter trainers that do a better job starting young horses than dressage trainers do. They are willing to get off their backs, to be more casual about exposure to things (ever been to a hunter show? pandemonium. A dressage show? like a funeral.) and to allow the horse to learn to balance himself. Maybe your trainer is one of the good ones and just needs a reminder about your ultimate goals for this horse.

meupatdoes
Aug. 8, 2009, 12:10 AM
Unless of course you just want to be argumentative for the sake of it.

No, I am actually pursuing dressage on a show hunter I made myself with no thought at the time of ever doing dressage with him, but based on the responses people always give to these threads about the sacrosanct lead changes we should be entirely and completely effed. It is like Lead Change Terrorism or something to keep everyone stridently on Orange Alert about how dangerous doing a lead change can be.

My horse was a dyed in the wool auto changer like nobody's business, looooves to do changes, and did indeed anticipate them with verve when we turned down the diagonal the first few times. (OH NOOEEZ. WHAT TO DO??!)

The flat loop serpentine in the canter (AHA!), however, took him about two repetitions to figure out and lo and behold he holds his counter canter now.

Well, that was clearly impossible.
:rolleyes:

nhwr
Aug. 8, 2009, 09:53 AM
Well at least your trainer is honest - she doesn't know why we wait to teach lead changes, :lol:
And it is not just that we wait. Dressage changes are different than hunter changes. All other things being equal, we like them with jump, up and suspended. They like them seemless, fluid and smooth. So IMO there are a couple of things going here.

The horse is a bit weaker on one side than the other. No big deal, that is pretty normal. And you do need to work the horse for it to become stronger. I wouldn't avoid the canter but I would strike a deal with the trainer. Something like let's work on the canter but no lead changes please. Or if you are going to do lead changes, they need to be the dressage kind (which is clearly beyond the horse at the moment). Ask her to focus on really balancing the horse on its weaker side through the transition into canter, don't canter 'til the horse can't hold it anymore and try to do a really good downward transition into the trot.

I find that good downward transitions are really valuable for solving these kinds of issue because you are asking muscles that are slightly fatigued to do the heavy lifting. That is a great way to build strength fast. You might be surprised how fast the horse can learn to pick up and hold the lead.

Another thing you can do is find and area with some slope and lunge the horse there. You get a variation of balance exercises automatically that way. One side of the circle is uphill, one side is downhill and the horse will have adjust itself accordingly. But go slow with this - some horses can get a little nervous until they learn they can shift their balance easily.

magnolia73
Aug. 8, 2009, 02:24 PM
when he gets it swaps back to the wrong lead.

There is no benefit to having a hunter swap from the correct lead to the incorrect lead. FWIW, my OTTB was taught changes by the first reseller, a more HJ trainer (its nearly impossibleto sell a HJ without changes). When my old trainer, eventer, more dressage oriented got on her, there were some issues with swapping, it took a few rides to work out. Now back to HJ and we have her where she will swap if you ask, but I imagine holding a counter canter would be doable. Her aids are step over step over, new bend change. She will step over and not change if you skip the new bend. She does anticipate a bit. I suppose it depends on the horse what a barrier to training it might end up being.

If it were my horse, I'd prefer to see her canter a few steps on the correct lead and come back to trot before swapping to the wrong lead vs practicing incorrect.

You are the customer. It's within your rights to say- hey, don't let her swap off to the wrong lead- I prefer she just learn right means right lead, left means left lead.

goeslikestink
Aug. 8, 2009, 03:45 PM
For those of you who have backed and trained youngsters.

I have a young horse with an excellent temperament who was backed 2 months ago and is ridden 3X a week. He has been a dream so far, very easy, the trainer has even walked him around the fields alone (no companion horse) and he handles it w/ no problem.

Although my discipline is dressage, the trainer I picked is H/J with excellent references. She has started to canter the horse and he often misses the right lead and when he gets it swaps back to the wrong lead. I made the comment to her this week we should slow down on the cantering and go back to walk/trot/halt,etc. and if he offers canter she can just go with it. This gal rolls her eyes and makes a comment that we should be doing exercises to strengthen his weak side so he can pick up the correct lead. Then I get a little backhanded joke . . . I've never understood why dressage riders wait so long to teach lead changes.

Just to make it clear, I really like this gal and realize we have a small clash of the riding cultures and all the work she has done so far is quite good. There is something in the back of my mind that is telling me to slow it down a notch due to this horse's willing/kind temperament, I don't want him pushed.

BTW, this is my third youngster, but have never had one so easy, easy. This is my first time working w/ this trainer.

look here http://www.chronicleforums.com/Forum/showthread.php?t=178116
read all of page one and all links its all relevent
ooh and if you want tod o a bt of everything then go to a trianer that mixed events like an event trainer look on fei web pages for listed accredited trianers that can help you give the correct training for your horse dont take it for red that any trianer or a person saying they are trianers unless then proven by knowledge and have backing by expreinces

all clubs and associations like 4-h or usa pony club dressage or any society or associted member listed with the fei will have alisted acrredtied trianers page
What has been your experience with canter and the young horse?

hes unbalanced that why hes misses the lead so you got to go back to basics dont matter if hes a jumper show horse dressage or driven basic flat work is the foundation of all work done
so my advice is hes four a and a pup- so go back to getting him balanced

look here at my helpful links pages ooh and if your trianr doesnt know how to do the half halt stride which is used in all displines then changethe trianer as she not going to benifit you or your horse --
you wnat the horse forwards straight and balanced using the half ghlats stride and lengthenign and shortening his paces using all the wlak strides as in free walk medium walk and extended all the tro paces then all the canter paces and counter canter

then you can move up to doing things a bit more advance as hes learns ie si- ly,flying changes etc
when the horse is more balanced and can except the work given

matey you know the old saying dont run before you can walk --- go back to basics the horse only learns from you and if those that hes learning from dont know and he doesnt know then how do you expect him to understand what your asking of him

Calhoun
Aug. 8, 2009, 06:07 PM
oooooh, my post is unclear, sorry. This gal is not trying to introduce flying changes. I just think the cantering issue is coming on too quickly and his training should be slowed down by 30 days . . . let him get comfortable with having a rider. With his easy going personality I'm afraid he might be pushed.

Thank you, all of you have given me something to think about. BTW, I have always used H/J trained individuals to break my horses. I find they are not caught up in getting everything perfect, they just roll with it. At least this is the case in my area and my price range for training.

EiRide
Aug. 8, 2009, 11:09 PM
Kindergarten is the same whether one is going to be an engineer or an artist or an English teacher.

By that, I mean that what happens in the very very early stages of under saddle work, while it lays the foundation, should not be a big deal for the work which happens as a horse begins to specialize.

I want steering, forward, and safe from my baby babies. :-) There are a lot of ways to get to that point--the ones I did at home myself I took it slow; my explosive filly who went to an excellent cowboy was out on trail at walk, trot, and canter and belly deep in ponds by the time she was a week under saddle. I expect she will be a smashing dressage horse, BTW, in that phase of her eventing and dressage career.

EqTrainer
Aug. 8, 2009, 11:11 PM
If that is the issue, then I would probably let her continue on. Young horses do need to canter and they do need to be straightened. The longer they canter around crooked, well.. you get the idea! How soon will you be able to get on Baby and see what you think?

Surviving the Dramas
Aug. 9, 2009, 05:48 AM
I break in and also train young horses.

I'll start with the comment that EVERY horse is different - hopefully we can all agree on that :lol:

I agree with the H/J gal to an extent in that we are often too slow to let our horses canter. If you wait too long, or shut the horse down too much, you run the risk of having to "find" the canter - for want of a few better words...

I allow (not force) the horse to canter once I know I have stop/go/turn well established. I choose a nice open field, and let it happen, if we are on the wrong lead the first couple of times - who cares! I usually go two point and let the horse sort his/her pins out for as long as they are comfortable, stabilize to prevent totally unbalanced issues, and bring back to trot. I'll spend the first few weeks doing that before I start actually "teaching" (and enforcing) the correct leads/cues in the arena. Helps to get a nice active forward canter too. Then again, we have the luxury here of having nice wide open spaces :D

I understand why most AA's don't teach flying changes early. Lets face it, not many are up to it, yet how many professionals teach them early on? Though - every horse is different. My (just turned) 5 year old can do singles quite happily :eek:, yet my 7 yo is quite a wee way away (like - 3 years!!):lol:

I ended up teaching my 5 year old as he was quite happy to do them the moment my balance changed just a little bit, so I taught them so that he could understand the difference between an actual aid, and just me readjusting. Little so and so picked the whole idea up so quickly :yes:

slc2
Aug. 9, 2009, 08:10 AM
To be perfectly honest, I do not understand why people get so freaked out when a young dressage horse canters on the 'wrong' lead. If the youngster wants to canter on the other lead, let 'em canter and god bless 'em! It's GREAT if a youngster is balanced on the counter lead. I never want them to think they will be punished for counter cantering. On the longe or under saddle. Why pick pick pick so much on the newly backed horse. If they want to canter and go forward, that's good. If they cross canter, I do stop them and ask them to try again, but if they can canter united on the other lead, who cares! I've NEVER understood why someone would correct a horse who's cantering united on the other lead. Good boy! Give him a carrot!

EqTrainer
Aug. 9, 2009, 10:12 AM
Yep. The goal in the beginning is.. JUST CANTER!

grayarabpony
Aug. 9, 2009, 10:14 AM
OK I Know this is beating the lame horse, but do check for soreness. The preference for one lead is a little disturbing. A horse shouldn't be *that* weak on one side.

Coppers mom
Aug. 9, 2009, 01:58 PM
OK I Know this is beating the lame horse, but do check for soreness. The preference for one lead is a little disturbing. A horse shouldn't be *that* weak on one side.
Disturbing? How many young horses have you started? 99% of babies are going to like one lead better than the other in the beginning of their training. It's perfectly normal.

I would say that she's probably on the right track. He will never learn his leads by not cantering, and he'll never build up the strength to canter without doing so. Unless he's in his first week of training, it doesn't sound like he's being pushed too fast.

grayarabpony
Aug. 9, 2009, 02:12 PM
Yeah, I would definitely be disturbed if a horse preferred a lead THAT MUCH.

I've never seen lead preference to that extent in a young horse. Perhaps all of the young horses I've worked with are special? :rolleyes:

Did I say he shouldn't canter or that he was being pushed too fast? NO, I did not. I said that checking for soreness was a good idea.

There's no need to be such a smartass -- which is what you are doing when you question credentials as you are.

I've seen you get in a number of arguments with people, but I'm not going to bother.

Calhoun
Aug. 9, 2009, 02:14 PM
I'm all for just letting him canter, at just a few months I want to avoid the cue for canter "now". It doesn't bother me if he breaks into the canter from the trot, then I say go for it.

EqTrainer, my last 2 youngsters I tried not to control the situation. As with children, by the time the second one came along I was much better(LOL) and with the third I am more comfortable with the process. The first horse was quite sensitive and could be explosive when introducing new things, therefore I didn't ride him until he had 7 months of training. The second I rode after 5 months. I have not ridden the horse in this post. Hopefully it will be sometime this summer.

Surviving the Dramas, I do agree with your theory on riding outside with the youngsters, especially with the canter . . . nice big easy turns.

After reading through this thread a second time, some of you have me thinking maybe I'm making a mountain out of all this. This guy has the best temperament out of three I've had and I don't want to take advantage of it . . . I want to encourage it.

Bogey2
Aug. 9, 2009, 03:35 PM
Then I get a little backhanded joke . . . I've never understood why dressage riders wait so long to teach lead changes.
a dressage lead change is very different than a hunter one.

On the canter, is she running the horse in to the canter or half halting? If she is running the horse in to it then I would also have a problem.
Personally, I leave dressage training to a person who has trained/ridden dressage.

nhwr
Aug. 9, 2009, 03:37 PM
My horse complains because I only sign checks with one hand.
She believes I would be more efficient and balanced if I could sign checks with both hands, but the most important thing is that I sign the checks :lol:

goeslikestink
Aug. 9, 2009, 04:57 PM
Uhh, straightness is one of the last things to worry about when starting a young horse. My goodness, there is far too much else for the youngster to be learning at this point. The scale of training sets direction for a reason:

Rhythm
Suppleness
Contact
Impulsion
Straightness
Collection

If you don't have rhythm, you have nothing. You want a good 4-beat walk, 2-beat trot, 3-beat canter. You want whoa. You want to be able to turn left and right. Suppleness is another good word for BALANCE. So we work on rhythm, suppling and balance pretty much simultaneously. Then we start developing some basic light contact and teaching the horse to reach forward into the hands (the bit) and happily and lightly carrying the bit and contact. As he progresses he starts to learn some fine tuning with the gas pedal - touching the gas doesn't always mean go faster, it means add some power - aka IMPULSION. Finally, we start asking him to perfect his physical body by adding exercises to improve his straightness. All horses are crooked. All horses prefer to go either right handed or left handed. All horses have balance issues on their weaker side. It's only as he is learning some straightness that we can even attempt to bring in some collection because it's pretty hard to collect a crooked horse.

The training scale is there for a reason. It's a tried and true method of starting youngsters. You only run into problems when you skip a step.

Horse is young. You know your horse. If you feel he is rushed, give him a break and back it down. It won't hurt the horse to stop cantering for a week or so. It won't destroy his career to have a 2 week holiday even at this stage of the game. It won't mean the end of the world just because we happily go around the arena or out on the trails in a plain and simple walk, trot, canter and whoa with some nice simple left turns and right turns.

PS: You can't get good flying changes without some pretty good collection. So there's your answer!

PRACTICE.

PATIENCE.

PERSISTENCE.

agree 100000%

Coppers mom
Aug. 9, 2009, 04:57 PM
Yeah, I would definitely be disturbed if a horse preferred a lead THAT MUCH.

I've never seen lead preference to that extent in a young horse. Perhaps all of the young horses I've worked with are special? :rolleyes:

So you've never seen a young horse swap leads? You must not have started many horses then. It's very common in the beginning for a horse to favor one lead, or swap to the easier lead down the long side.

Did I say he shouldn't canter or that he was being pushed too fast? NO, I did not. I said that checking for soreness was a good idea.

No, but that's what the OP mentioned. Separate paragraphs, separate subjects, has nothing to do with you.

There's no need to be such a smartass -- which is what you are doing when you question credentials as you are.


I don't think it's being a smart ass to ask how many horses you've started when you say that such a typical thing is disturbing. Sure, soreness could be the cause, but more than likely the horse is just a baby. Anyone who's started numerous young horses (more than 2 or 3) will know that. Not arguing, it's common knowledge.

bornfreenowexpensive
Aug. 9, 2009, 05:42 PM
Eventer speaking up here.....first off, I'd just be happy he's picking up the canter. And no, that is not pushing them to ask for that early early in the starting process. Most of mine start to canter under saddle within the first 5 rides (as long as they are not trying to buck me off...in which case we are usually back to ground work anyway!) I've started more horses than I can remember. You start them the SAME regardless of whether they are going to be hunters, jumpers, dressage, eventers.....hell, I've even started a couple of reiners. Guess what...IT IS ALL THE SAME. You do not specalize ANYTHING at this stage of the game....and shouldn't be specializing in anything for some time with a young horse. Relax...then forward should be the focus...then straightness a bit later on (but not too much later).

ETA: Just realized you said it has been 2 months that he has been backed. No I don't think getting the correct leads is asking for too much at this stage. He is however either sore...or going through a growth spurt (which is more likely depends on his age) if he is still having trouble. Mine usually start cantering within 5 rides. So after 2 months...they are usually pretty much WTC and hacking. None will be perfect about their leads...but they will be pretty good. And depending on their age....they may be popping over a fence or two. Has he had a break yet? How old is he? I'd probably be changing the focus from ring work to getting him out hacking more at this stage. Going for walks up and down hills is one of the best thing for their balance and strength (and MIND). And depending on his age...I may be backing off on ring work and giving him a break and then working on his leads when you pick him back up again.

grayarabpony
Aug. 9, 2009, 11:01 PM
I don't think it's being a smart ass to ask how many horses you've started when you say that such a typical thing is disturbing. Sure, soreness could be the cause, but more than likely the horse is just a baby. Anyone who's started numerous young horses (more than 2 or 3) will know that. Not arguing, it's common knowledge.

B.S. It's not normal for a young horse to favor one lead that much.

If the horse does that and isn't checked for soreness, whoever is working with him isn't much of a horseperson.

Now that is common knowledge. Or perhaps lack of doing that is common stupidity.

What else is new...

meupatdoes
Aug. 10, 2009, 12:41 AM
B.S. It's not normal for a young horse to favor one lead that much.

If the horse does that and isn't checked for soreness, whoever is working with him isn't much of a horseperson.

Now that is common knowledge. Or perhaps lack of doing that is common stupidity.

What else is new...

Oh for Christ's sake.

I personally started the Boy Wonder horse in my sig, and he was Mr. Right Lead when he first started cantering. Even while longing he prefered to counter canter when travelling left. It took 15 or 20 tries on a circle to get him to pick up the left lead under saddle when I first started asking for it. It took not a few sessions but a few weeks to get him to reliably pick up the left lead.

As for checking for soreness, the horse had a professionally fitted saddle (all my horses do), received regular chiropractic appointments, when he seemed to have developed a muscle knot in his neck a massage therapist was promptly called in to loosen it, one day when he had a slightly fat hock on which he was not lame he was sent to the clinic for xrays just to be sure and received a full body electrowave therapy in addition. Keeping him soreness free (especially during the initial most formative months where everything is new and young muscles are learning the most) and levying every last preemptive strike toward that end is, as you can see, a priority.

And still he was Mr. Right Lead.

He has been under saddle nine months now and is now an idiot savant in the balance and suppleness departments. His up canter transitions are a poem to ride, he does the very occasional flat loop serpentine counter canters and laughs in their general direction it is so easy for him (easier for him than for my mature horses, btw), he lengthens down the long side and comes easily back for the turns, and lateral work also comes more easily to him than it does to my mature horses. Both leads now ride pretty much indistinguishable.

However he did pop me a right canter lead depart on the left 20m circle today when I wasn't paying close enough attention.

It is totally normal for young horses to prefer one lead over the other, and it just takes time for some of them to leave their one sided comfort zone and learn to be ambidextrous.

Peggy
Aug. 10, 2009, 01:21 AM
Cantering after two months u/s seems reasonable for most horses most of the time. IIRC, we had Star cantering within two weeks, tho I do remember a lead preference. We kept plugging away and he got it. He also went to a show at about four months u/s and did a WTC dressage test (it was cheaper to pay the entry fee for one class, which I could always scratch, than to pay a non-showing horse fee for each day of the multi-day show).

Have put early-for-dressage changes on two that were destined for both rings. Neither appears to have been scarred for life, or even had an issue distinguishing the cues for counter canter vs a lead change. The one that ended up staying a dressage horse showed thru 4th and ultimately worked about I2. The other one, who for a variety of reasons didn't remain a dressage horse, routinely does flat work that incorporates both canter movements, including serpentines on the counter canter with flying changes from counter to counter lead.

And, IMHO, the basic difference b/w correctly executed hunter and dressage changes is the degree of collection of the canter. And I know of both hunter and dressage people who have the same opinion.

grayarabpony
Aug. 10, 2009, 09:01 AM
Oh for Christ's sake.

I personally started the Boy Wonder horse in my sig, and he was Mr. Right Lead when he first started cantering. Even while longing he prefered to counter canter when travelling left. It took 15 or 20 tries on a circle to get him to pick up the left lead under saddle when I first started asking for it. It took not a few sessions but a few weeks to get him to reliably pick up the left lead.

As for checking for soreness, the horse had a professionally fitted saddle (all my horses do), received regular chiropractic appointments, when he seemed to have developed a muscle knot in his neck a massage therapist was promptly called in to loosen it, one day when he had a slightly fat hock on which he was not lame he was sent to the clinic for xrays just to be sure and received a full body electrowave therapy in addition. Keeping him soreness free (especially during the initial most formative months where everything is new and young muscles are learning the most) and levying every last preemptive strike toward that end is, as you can see, a priority.

And still he was Mr. Right Lead.

He has been under saddle nine months now and is now an idiot savant in the balance and suppleness departments. His up canter transitions are a poem to ride, he does the very occasional flat loop serpentine counter canters and laughs in their general direction it is so easy for him (easier for him than for my mature horses, btw), he lengthens down the long side and comes easily back for the turns, and lateral work also comes more easily to him than it does to my mature horses. Both leads now ride pretty much indistinguishable.

However he did pop me a right canter lead depart on the left 20m circle today when I wasn't paying close enough attention.

It is totally normal for young horses to prefer one lead over the other, and it just takes time for some of them to leave their one sided comfort zone and learn to be ambidextrous.

And your one example is supposed to cover the entire universe?

Guess my horse wonders are more wonderful than yours. I have not seen such one-sidedness when all was well and it is a drawback (and I've been around horses for a long time).

OP, I doubt your horse is injured, but it never hurts to check. Young horses can get SI soreness from the newness of the work. It's the switching over that would concern me.

That's it for me. I'm not going to argue about whether or not it's a good idea to check for soreness. OP good luck with your horse! I'm sure he'll be fine!

Bastet
Aug. 10, 2009, 06:07 PM
This is just another person's perspective.

I am also training my young (4 yo) horse with the assistance of a very qualified trainer and there are times where I want to go a bit slower than the trainer. The incorrect leads issue actually has come up for me too. So, I feel like I understand exactly where the OP is coming from.

First, my trainer (and, truth be told, others) is constantly having to push me to allow my horse to move forward in his training. I tend to hold back a bit and give him a lot of time before moving forward to something new. Yes, I think it drove my trainer a bit mad at times but she understood that even though my horse was ready, I wasn’t ready and I was being extra cautious that my horse wasn’t being pushed.

This is usually how it goes: Trainer makes a suggestion about moving forward to the next step, and I’d respond, maybe you’re right, in a week or two, or maybe next month. She’d give me a dead stare and wrinkle her nose at me, I’d get embarrassed and reassure her that she is right that he (my horse) is ready but I’m not quite ready but I’m sure I will be by the following week. We’d discuss it again in about three weeks 

Believe it, my horse’s training, thus far is solid and is in no way lacking because I insist on going slowly.

This is what my horse taught me:

When I first started working with my horse on the lunge line and I asked for a canter, he would consistently cross canter or on the incorrect lead regardless of which direction he was going. I was concerned about this because I wasn’t sure what kind of issue this may present later if I didn’t correct it right away.

I had to make the decision as to whether or not I was going to halt him every time I asked him to canter and he picked up the incorrect lead. I decided I would not halt him and just be happy that he was actually cantering when I asked him to, and when he is ready I would teach him the difference between leads. In the meantime, I would try to time it as well as I could and ask for the canter at appropriate place that made it easy for him to pick up the correct lead.

Personally, my opinion only, I think teaching a horse to canter and to do so with a specific lead is harder and more frustrating (for both rider/handler and the horse) than it is to teach the canter and then once the horse is going comfortably and safely under saddle in all directions, teach the aids for a specific lead. For me and my horse, so far this has worked out pretty well.

In the beginning, (still on the lunge line) it was difficult for my horse to balance himself and to continue on in a canter on the incorrect lead. After several strides, he would break to the trot on his own and switch to a correct lead. When he broke to the trot I would immediately ask him to canter so he knew he was to continue. He almost always came back with the correct lead. After a while (meaning other sessions) if he started on the wrong lead, he would break to the trot sooner (within a stride or two), correct himself and continue on in the canter. Another words, he was actually learning on his own what was more comfortable for him. This past weekend, he picked up the correct lead in one direction consistently, but in the other direction he consistently picked up the incorrect lead. However, instead of breaking to a trot, he was doing flying changes on his own to correct the lead.

He is going very well under saddle at the walk/trot and picking up the canter when asked, although sometimes not on the correct lead. I expect the learning process under saddle will come the same way as it did on the lunge and then once he is cantering comfortably on his own, then I can start teaching him the aids to distinguish which lead to use.

So the bottom line for me is, and I’m sorry it took me so long to get there, I don’t think leads matter as much in the early training process and its okay to go at your own pace, even if your horse is ready. And hopefully, you have a trainer that is understanding and respects that you want to go a bit slower even if they may not agree. Because, honestly, as long as you don’t drill your horse with lessons he or she already knows, I don’t think you can go too slowly.

Again, I'm really sorry for the long post, but I wanted to share how I came to my thoughts about this. Sometimes, it just takes me forever to get someplace ;)

Best of luck.

Schiffon
Aug. 10, 2009, 08:02 PM
I'm all for just letting him canter, at just a few months I want to avoid the cue for canter "now". It doesn't bother me if he breaks into the canter from the trot, then I say go for it.



One should already know from ground work whether the horse has a good canter. If so, there is no reason to avoid cantering for months unless temperment means it will be unsafe for the rider. Even in that case, there is an argument that it is better to practice cantering early on rather than waiting until the horse is stronger and more agile with a rider and is better able to buck or run! If the horse doesn't have a good canter, sure, it makes sense to work more on the lunge to improve strength, balance, and understanding of verbal cues that can be used during the transition to riding.

If the rider isn't intending to canter, but once or twice in a 20 minute ride the horse offers to canter briefly, I think it is fine to allow it. However, if he wants to canter more than that, it is for sure time to teach him the cue for canter because a) it is easy for him and we want to do things that are likely to be successful and allow us to reward and b) this will include teaching him what is not a cue to canter. This is regardless of how many days or months the horse is under saddle.

Agree with bastet and others about not worrying about the leads when first teaching the canter aid. So confusing when they try to canter and keep getting pulled up. If they take the wrong lead, rather than allowing a counter canter on a curve, I just cut across the arena to change direction.

As far as flying changes and dressage being anti-auto-swap, one has to be careful to not be too rigid in this with horses that volunteer changes or you can inadvertantly teach that all flying changes are bad. Best to laugh it off and go back to an easier exercise where the mistake is less likely.

slc2
Aug. 11, 2009, 04:49 PM
I think the only way one can really evaluate the canter is by riding. Ground work doesn't do much foir evaluating how the horse carries the rider, which is where the real difference is.

goeslikestink
Aug. 11, 2009, 05:11 PM
I think the only way one can really evaluate the canter is by riding. Ground work doesn't do much foir evaluating how the horse carries the rider, which is where the real difference is.

excuse me slc2 but if one does ground work properly ie start the horse in long reins
so that he can become balanced working with an outline and understand simple commands
then when hes ready to break its easier for him and easier for the rider

long reining does help with how they carry them selves

but or course you wouldnt know that as you dont lunge and you dont long rein
you teach things as tricks

slc2
Aug. 11, 2009, 08:11 PM
do you ever get tired of telling lies about me, goeslikestink?

I do lots of ground work, and always have. Long lines, yes, longeing, yes, double longeing, yes. Yes to all of the above. And I love doing it.

You missed my point because you were trying harder to find something to insult than actually even reading.

I did not say 'ground work is bad', I said if you want to find out how the horse will carry the rider in canter, you can't feel that from ground work. You have to sit on the horse's back to feel that.

Yes, you can get some idea from ground work if the canter is naturally of a good quality, if it has 3 clean beats, if the horse will be obedient and fun to work with. Ground work can help make a horse supple, straight, obedient, balanced.

But if you want to feel how the horse carries the rider in canter, you have to sit on him. To find out how a horse carries a weight on his back, requires a weight on the horse's back.

This is something specific I am talking about. How the horse feels when the rider sits on him when he is very, very green, with very little training, is a very, very important indication of how he will develop collection and self carriage, and how much of a really top quality horse he is. A super horse really feels very different in the canter when green.

It is just about impossible to describe to someone who has not felt it.

It is not that one forces the horse into an advanced posture or pulls its head up or tries to create an 'advanced frame', or does really anything much oneself...the horse carries the rider with the back and hind quarters, as if it is a much more advanced horse. You can only feel this by putting yourself on the horse's back.

I learned this years ago when a trainer I knew bought several young horses from a big warmblood importer in Virginia. I asked how she had chosen the youngsters out of a large group of horses that were all quite nice, and she explained this to me. Later I was able to feel it on my own.

Schiffon
Aug. 11, 2009, 09:12 PM
SLC, you are splitting hairs for the top 5% of horses, determining the difference between a good canter and an excellent canter. Fine for picking sales horses for top clientele or if you are buying for yourself.

However, my comments are perfectly applicable to the comment I quoted where it was portrayed as a preference as a general rule to not canter for a few months when starting undersaddle, and to the general average horse that is much more commonly had. Some canter easily and well balanced in the setting of a 20-25m lunging circle and others lean, scoot, break, change leads or just plain would rather not. The latter may be okay to start riding in walk and trot but one shouldn't be in a hurry to canter for months. The others it is no problem to try some canter within the first week or 2.

slc2
Aug. 11, 2009, 09:27 PM
Yours is one way of looking at it, there are others. Some trainers make a point of cantering youngsters right from the start, and they get very good results doing so.

If an amateur is breaking a horse by himself and feels uncomfortable cantering the horse, I think he should take his time and do what he feels comfortable doing. If it is a professional, honestly, I expect them to be cantering newly backed horses pretty much from the start, without problems.

Bastet
Aug. 11, 2009, 09:53 PM
I think the only way one can really evaluate the canter is by riding. Ground work doesn't do much foir evaluating how the horse carries the rider, which is where the real difference is.

This may be off topic, and I apologize slc2, but I strongly and wholeheartedly disagree with this statement. A person can gauge a horse's gaits and ability to perform while evaluating that particular horse at liberty, on the lunge, and especially with ground work. It is the addition of the rider/handler that changes the equation of the quality of gaits or performance.

slc2
Aug. 11, 2009, 10:01 PM
I am not disagreeing with that. What I'm talking about is something additional to that, and you can't tell it til you sit on the horse and feel how he is carrying your weight. It is a feeling, it is not something you can see from the ground.

You don't believe it? Fine. I do, because I've been taught that and I've felt it. I don't mind if you don't agree; be my guest. At least you might read it in a little more detail, and consider without just discarding it out of hand just because someone else did. I didn't dream it up on my own. The person who taught me that has plenty of credentials, 1000 times more than me.

:D

This is something that is separate from ground work. Ground work is great. But it does not put a weight on the horse's back. It does not show the ability of his back and hind quarters to carry the weight of the rider and to balance with a weight on his back.

Yes ground work is great, as I said, and I really enjoy doing ground work. But you have to be able to see what it can't do, as much as you like it, you have to realize, it doesn't put a weight on the horse's back. The only way you find out how the horse carries the rider is by sitting on him.

Liz
Aug. 11, 2009, 10:37 PM
Funny, I was watching a Carl Hester video last night and he spoke of young horses. He said something like (this is not a direct quote...I can not remember his exact words), you can't really go by how a young horse moves at liberty, you need to see them with a rider.

I don't really have an opinion in this one. Just something I came across yesterday.

slc2
Aug. 11, 2009, 10:40 PM
I can't remember if Hester has covered this in his presentations, but it is something that is fairly well known. In any case, this is different from seeing the horse with a rider on it (though I agree that seeing the horse with a rider is ALSO very important). This thing is feeling how the muscles of the back and hind quarter carry the rider.

Bastet
Aug. 11, 2009, 10:41 PM
I am not disagreeing with that. What I'm talking about is something additional to that, and you can't tell it til you sit on the horse and feel how he is carrying your weight. It is a feeling, it is not something you can see from the ground.

You don't believe it? Fine. I do, because I've been taught that and I've felt it. I don't mind if you don't agree; be my guest. At least you might read it in a little more detail, and consider without just discarding it out of hand just because someone else did. I didn't dream it up on my own. The person who taught me that has plenty of credentials, 1000 times more than me.

:D

This is something that is separate from ground work. Ground work is great. But it does not put a weight on the horse's back. It does not show the ability of his back and hind quarters to carry the weight of the rider and to balance with a weight on his back.

Yes ground work is great, as I said, and I really enjoy doing ground work. But you have to be able to see what it can't do, as much as you like it, you have to realize, it doesn't put a weight on the horse's back. The only way you find out how the horse carries the rider is by sitting on him.

I agree with this. Just didn't agree with your prior post.

slc2
Aug. 11, 2009, 10:48 PM
You know the story of the commedian who is packing up at the end of a long day, and a starry eyed female fan corners him as he's getting into a cab, and says, 'you are so funny', and declares her intention to bed him? He gives her a shrewd look and says, 'did you see the 7 o'clock show, or the 9 o'clock show?'

So....which statement don't you agree with?

I said, 'it's the only way' because for me if I'm looking at a horse, I'm hoping to have one that can progress and develop self carriage and collection in a natural, non straining way, without coercion. And for that I think the ability to carry the rider's weight is indispensable. For a fun lower level horse, I would still want at least some degree of this.

Royal Equus Farm
Aug. 12, 2009, 09:14 PM
Sounds like an alignment problem to me. Maybe to rider needs to over exaggerate her body position to help the horse. Stay on straight lines more and not do much with circles yet as this will change her weight and cause a change in some unbalanced youngsters. I am a dressage rider and have started many young horses. I don't think your trainer is teaching this. He or she just needs to set it up to be too hard to change back. Stay close to the rail trot before the turns? that is what I would do. This has worked for me.
Sometimes the saddle is not level or centered also??
Lucy Meyer
www.royalequusfarm.com
Home of Sonntagskind Sandro Hit/ Donnerhall/ Rubinstein I

honeylips
Aug. 12, 2009, 09:29 PM
I am with SLC and Liz on this one - to really evaluate the potential of the horse - you have to sit on it. I have seen horses move totally differently in long lines/lunging vs having a rider on them.

I also agree that you canter from the get go - within the first month. If you don't feel comfortable yourself - then get a pro or the horsestarting person in your area to do it. Horses learn to canter with a person on them - by cantering with a person on them and by cantering with a person on them who knows how to canter a greenie.

I also agree with this
"How the horse feels when the rider sits on him when he is very, very green, with very little training, is a very, very important indication of how he will develop collection and self carriage, and how much of a really top quality horse he is. A super horse really feels very different in the canter when green."

I think MBM was asking for how to evaluate greenies and their future ability to collect etc. You do it by sitting on them and asking them to do it. Even for just 3-4 steps - what they do tells you so much about how the future will go.

I can post a video of my super talented 3yo (with an intl quality canter) if you want. StolenSilver also has a very talented greenie as well.