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View Full Version : "Falling in" at the canter to the left.



Pasture_Ornament
Jan. 19, 2011, 01:04 PM
I have started to do some schooling w/ an ex-reining / roping horse. He is coming along fairly well, but his canter is a major problem.

The best way to describe it is that he "falls in" at the canter to the left. He basically loses all impulsion and drifts inwards right through my leg. He definitely wants to just stop, and is very resistant.

I am thinking this may have something to do w/ weakness/lameness in a hock or stifle??

His canter to the right is not bad.. and he can keep himself fairly straight and balanced.

He is in okay fitness, has been hacked out a lot to build strength. And I am only asking for a tiny little bit of canter at this point, but it just feels like it is almost impossible for him.

I am greatful to any ideas and suggestions... I was thinking the vet should come out and check out his hind end??

Thanks in advance!

naturalequus
Jan. 19, 2011, 01:35 PM
If you think it could be a soundness issue, discuss it with your vet and/or have your vet evaluate him. I would suspect a pain issue if he is presenting resistance, however he could simply be "resisting" your leg, ie, falling through it, because he CAN'T pick himself up yet, not specifically due to an unsoundness.

It sounds like it is some sort of weakness issue, whether with a specific joint/area or just in general (likely). Every horse is stronger on one side, just as any human. If it is a general weakness, trottrottrot. Over groundpoles/cavelleti/x-rails, up and down hills, lateral work, transitions, and circular patterns that get him to use his hind. Especially the trails, groundpoles, and lateral work though - those will really strengthen the hind end! Get his trot VERY balanced, inside rein to outside leg. Then return to the canter and work on it stride by stride.

Are YOU sitting straight? If you are not entirely straight in the saddle (ie, does one stirrup feel longer? Ask someone, specifically an instructor, to watch you from in front and behind, and evaluate your straightness), and you might not notice it, then you will also cause him to be crooked.

Pasture_Ornament
Jan. 19, 2011, 02:19 PM
Great suggestions.. Thank you...

Megsabelle
Jan. 19, 2011, 02:20 PM
My mare had a similar issue when I first started canter work and presently has a similar issue when my less experienced friend rides her...the solution has been not to throw away contact with the outside rein! She would bulge through her shoulder, get crooked and fall in, but now that I am a little further along in my dressage education and have begun to treat my "insidereinitis," she is much straighter and lighter off my inside leg.

Pasture_Ornament
Jan. 19, 2011, 03:49 PM
Okay... Thanks! You guys are a great resource!

One thing I just thought of, is at the trot the odd time he will feel as if a hind leg suddenly "sticks" and then he will take a little scramble step to keep his balance. I definitely want to have a vet out to assess him, in case there is a specific problem.

netg
Jan. 19, 2011, 06:03 PM
That sounds as if it is a stifle issue - definitely a vet thing! Generally work on a straight line helps build strength without aggravating.... but let an expert see and tell you!

Good for you for looking and thinking maybe it's not just a strength thing and trying to figure out what it is!

dwblover
Jan. 19, 2011, 07:26 PM
Of course consult a vet as well, but you might be surprised at how much a tiny imbalance in YOUR body can make your horse go bonkers underneath you. I have scoliosis so tend to have a heavy left seat bone and a lighter right seat bone. I have to consciously sit back and be 100% sure that I am weighting my seat bones equally or my horse will immediately fall in when traveling to the right.
The instant I correct myself is the same instant he happily adjusts and gives me a wonderful canter with bend and balance. Any chance you are sitting heavy on your right seat bone when tracking left? That would push your horse over to the left and create the falling-in you are feeling.

CZF
Jan. 20, 2011, 08:42 AM
I've ridden a lot of young horses and it was not at all uncommon for them to be very lopsided until the built up their strength. Something would come really naturally to them in one direction, then you go the other way and they fall spectacularly to pieces.

Obviously it's a good idea to rule out any soundness issues, but once the horse has a clean bill of health, I found working on things like shoulder fore and shoulder in to be really good exercises to use for straightening the horse and getting that inside hind leg activated. This can be done in a canter as well.

Obviously you need to gradually build the horses strength and stamina, so don't overdo it, just play around with it and give them a break every few minutes so they don't become overtired or frustrated.

Anyway, I found that really helpful with our youngsters.

Good luck!

PS. missed your comment about the sticky trot, that might be a stifle thing. I would have your vet out to check it out before doing anything with the training.

Pasture_Ornament
Jan. 21, 2011, 10:37 AM
Of course consult a vet as well, but you might be surprised at how much a tiny imbalance in YOUR body can make your horse go bonkers underneath you. I have scoliosis so tend to have a heavy left seat bone and a lighter right seat bone. I have to consciously sit back and be 100% sure that I am weighting my seat bones equally or my horse will immediately fall in when traveling to the right.
The instant I correct myself is the same instant he happily adjusts and gives me a wonderful canter with bend and balance. Any chance you are sitting heavy on your right seat bone when tracking left? That would push your horse over to the left and create the falling-in you are feeling.

It is very possible! I will get someone on the ground to have a look... and I will pay extra attention to how I am sitting.

Pasture_Ornament
Jan. 21, 2011, 10:38 AM
I've ridden a lot of young horses and it was not at all uncommon for them to be very lopsided until the built up their strength. Something would come really naturally to them in one direction, then you go the other way and they fall spectacularly to pieces.

Obviously it's a good idea to rule out any soundness issues, but once the horse has a clean bill of health, I found working on things like shoulder fore and shoulder in to be really good exercises to use for straightening the horse and getting that inside hind leg activated. This can be done in a canter as well.

Obviously you need to gradually build the horses strength and stamina, so don't overdo it, just play around with it and give them a break every few minutes so they don't become overtired or frustrated.

Anyway, I found that really helpful with our youngsters.

Good luck!

PS. missed your comment about the sticky trot, that might be a stifle thing. I would have your vet out to check it out before doing anything with the training.

Okay... thanks. I will def. get the vet out to have a look. I think it might be a stifle issue too..

Losgelassenheit
Jan. 21, 2011, 12:42 PM
So I've lurked until now because this is almost word for word my new mare. Just swap the directions.

On the lunge she is fine, no sticky steps -- but falls in heavily at the trot/canter to the right, and tries to get away with bending her neck in instead of conforming her whole body to the bend and using that inside hind. First indication to me of weakness. Eventually when I got on her, trotting to the left she was fine, but to the right there appeared a sticky step every now and then that seemed to present itself whenever she'd start heavily falling in again, which tended to be mostly in the turns. At first we thought it was a cue mixup because the step is almost like the beginning of a canter depart, but she'll fall forward again and kind of scramble to catch up back to the trot.

Had a vet check it out and confirm it as most likely a weak stifle, which often will resolve itself over time with added strength and muscle tone. So we've been doing lots of trot work, lunge exercises over trot poles/cavaletti, lateral work, and circles (sadly no hills here or I'd be doing that too). When riding to the right, I will keep my inside hand a bit higher than normal to really support her shoulder, as well as making a more conscious effort to step down in the outside stirrup, keep my whole inside leg against her while supporting the outside as well. Really encouraging her to keep stepping under herself and me. If she starts to lean or get heavy, I'll tap her on the inside haunches with the whip to remind her to use herself.

I still let her canter now and then (mainly to appease her energy level), but most of the cantering is done on the lunge in sidereins to encourage carriage and bend, with the main riding focus being on the trot, and I'm seeing massive improvements already. Only two sticky steps yesterday as opposed to one every few strides when we first started!

Anywho, if you're in any doubt whatsoever, have a vet out just to be safe. I'm also curious, does your horse only do this with a rider, or do you get the funny steps on the lunge or outside of the ring as well?

Pasture_Ornament
Jan. 21, 2011, 03:15 PM
So I've lurked until now because this is almost word for word my new mare. Just swap the directions.

On the lunge she is fine, no sticky steps -- but falls in heavily at the trot/canter to the right, and tries to get away with bending her neck in instead of conforming her whole body to the bend and using that inside hind. First indication to me of weakness. Eventually when I got on her, trotting to the left she was fine, but to the right there appeared a sticky step every now and then that seemed to present itself whenever she'd start heavily falling in again, which tended to be mostly in the turns. At first we thought it was a cue mixup because the step is almost like the beginning of a canter depart, but she'll fall forward again and kind of scramble to catch up back to the trot.

Had a vet check it out and confirm it as most likely a weak stifle, which often will resolve itself over time with added strength and muscle tone. So we've been doing lots of trot work, lunge exercises over trot poles/cavaletti, lateral work, and circles (sadly no hills here or I'd be doing that too). When riding to the right, I will keep my inside hand a bit higher than normal to really support her shoulder, as well as making a more conscious effort to step down in the outside stirrup, keep my whole inside leg against her while supporting the outside as well. Really encouraging her to keep stepping under herself and me. If she starts to lean or get heavy, I'll tap her on the inside haunches with the whip to remind her to use herself.

I still let her canter now and then (mainly to appease her energy level), but most of the cantering is done on the lunge in sidereins to encourage carriage and bend, with the main riding focus being on the trot, and I'm seeing massive improvements already. Only two sticky steps yesterday as opposed to one every few strides when we first started!

Anywho, if you're in any doubt whatsoever, have a vet out just to be safe. I'm also curious, does your horse only do this with a rider, or do you get the funny steps on the lunge or outside of the ring as well?

I don't lunge very often, so I don't know about that. I have never noticed the "sticking" when I hack him out (which I was doing at least 3 times a week up until this past month, and the footing outside just got too awful). I could be wrong about this (trying to think back), but it seems to only happen in the deeper footing of the sand ring or indoor.

netg
Jan. 21, 2011, 04:13 PM
I don't lunge very often, so I don't know about that. I have never noticed the "sticking" when I hack him out (which I was doing at least 3 times a week up until this past month, and the footing outside just got too awful). I could be wrong about this (trying to think back), but it seems to only happen in the deeper footing of the sand ring or indoor.

That's another indication to make me think stifles. Softer ground can = more problems. Please let us know what the vet says?

Pasture_Ornament
Feb. 3, 2011, 12:14 PM
So just a quick update:

I ended up taking this horse to a chiropractor, and it worked absolute wonders. The horse relaxed immediately after his treatment, and was completely different under saddle. He picked up his left lead immediately and felt balanced both to the left and to the right.

He is going back this Saturday for a follow-up, but I was extremely pleased with the results.:)

2tempe
Feb. 3, 2011, 09:14 PM
I would not only do the vet check - loose stifles may be the issue here. Hill work will help strengthen if it is.
Also, have your farrier watch how the horse travels behind. Mine has a right foot that wants to not land square, and we are in the correction stage; she is getting better to the right.
Also - check saddle fit.
When under saddle, at trot and canter, try thinking of circles as hexagons or whatever, w/ straight sides; this will help keep the horse straighter on the outside; overbending will in turn cause the shoulder to pop out and body to fall in.

Pasture_Ornament
Feb. 5, 2011, 11:06 AM
Thanks for your suggestions.

We are going to get saddle fit checked again.

Also, we are going back to chiro for a follow up visit today. I was so impressed with the difference this has made in him. He is very even now, (not perfect of course), but at least he feels the same going to the left and to the right.

No more falling in, or trying to stop.