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CHT
May. 12, 2011, 01:11 AM
Curious how others first introduce the concept of cantering under saddle.

Does it depend on the nature of the horse? (Naturally forward vs naturally pokey, fearful vs trusting) or do you to the intro the same?

Do you first make sure to canter them on the lunge with the saddle or do you not think that matters?

jetsmom
May. 12, 2011, 02:39 AM
I teach voice commands on the longe first, then do it under saddle. I do it under saddle as soon as I have steering and brakes and reasonable balance at the trot.

mademoiselle
May. 12, 2011, 08:03 AM
I do w/t/c on the longeline, then w/t/c on the longeline with the saddle, then w/t with the rider on the longeline, then w/t/c on the longeline with a rider. Then w/t/c off the longeline with a rider.

I have dealt with horses that didn't canter much while being broke and with horses that did w/t/c right away and I feel that it was easier to canter 'not such a big deal' for the ones that had it introduced in their work routine earlier.

CZF
May. 12, 2011, 08:48 AM
I teach voice commands on the longe first, then do it under saddle. I do it under saddle as soon as I have steering and brakes and reasonable balance at the trot.

This.

I don't really wait, as long as they are stopping/steering/walking/trotting without any problems, I introduce teh canter. The first time I cantered my horse under saddle, I just said "Conner, Can-TER!" and off he went! :)

After a few tries, I try to give the aid, then ask with my voice and slowly try to wean him off the voice command. He was pretty quick to learn the leg aid, so it really didn't take long.

I only do a few rounds each way until they are a bit stronger and fitter so they don't tire out too much.

froglander
May. 12, 2011, 08:58 AM
What an appropriate thread! I've cantered a few times on my youngster, but I really should do it more, we've mostly stuck to w/t. For some reason I am afraid he's going to take off, even though every time he's cantered under saddle it's been fine (and I thought pretty well balanced for a young, green horse), it's just the transition from trot to canter gets really ugly and then I lose my nerve :(

Does anyone have any other suggestions on getting the actual transition? He w/t/c on the longe to clucks/kisses pretty consistently, but under saddle the kiss sound for a canter just isn't quite getting us there :(

CZF
May. 12, 2011, 09:14 AM
froglander, if your horse is getting hectic with the transition, I'd work on the transition on the lunge line a bit more. Try to get your horse to canter off the word (I cluck to get them more forward in a gait, but not to move up a gait, if that makes sense? I'll actually ask for a trot, or canter by using the word)

I insist that they listen to me when I'm lunging. I'm a bit more forgiving as they are learning the command, but once they know it, if I ask for a canter and I don't get a reaction, I'll ask again and immediately give a light flick with the lunge whip on their bum if they ignore it. I don't care if they make a mistake, I just want the to TRY.

I have to say I'm really lucky, my horse has been a star with it. He doesn't run into the canter, I just ask and he goes. Now I don't use my voice at all, he knows the aid.

Anyway, I'm sure others have some other ideas, but that's how I did it with my horse and he's been awesome.

Just be patient, all of a sudden one day, he'll put the pieces together. I wouldn't stress out over it, I'm sure he'll be just fine. :)

froglander
May. 12, 2011, 09:24 AM
Thanks CZF, I'll see if working on transitions on the lunge line will help. His transitions there aren't hurried or messy, they usually seem light and sometimes can get it from a walk. I've always used cluck to trot and kiss to canter for him (got that from a gal I used to take lessons from, she trained her horses that way so the younger lesson kids didn't sit there kicking the crap out of the horses to go and it's worked well), but I can try transitioning to the word 'canter' instead, I have added 'and trot' to get downward transitions from a canter out of him so he's pretty forgiving :)

Okay, thank you for the advice, didn't mean to steal the thread from the OP, hope they don't mind my question :)

CZF
May. 12, 2011, 09:31 AM
I suspect it's just a balance issue under saddle, if he's doing it ok on the lunge. That will just resolve with time. I'd keep working at it, but it's amazing how much they can learn in so little time.

Don't worry about all the stuff that can go wrong, you'll make yourself too tense, just try to relax and trust him. :) He'll figure it out.

Sorry to the OP - back to your regular scheduled thread! :D

AllWeatherGal
May. 12, 2011, 10:22 AM
My experience with trainers (most recently a Pferdewirtschaftsmeister) is that the canter is introduced first on the longe/lunge just as jetsmom and CZF suggest, and in the same order of development.

I also have learned to use voice commands while l*nging horses and the little sounds as "move up within the gait".

CHT
May. 12, 2011, 11:32 AM
froglander (and any others worried about stealing the thread) go ahead! I was looking for an open discussion so hearing of issues others have is useful.

Now, what if you have a horse that you really aren't supposed to lunge (injured fetlock, lunging puts more torque on joint), so hasn't been lunged other than a few loops a year ago as a 2 year old?

Would you just go ahead and do some canter on the lunge after warming up under saddle? Or is there some other way to shift the horse's balance so they step into the canter on their own? Horse in question is naturally forward.

naturalequus
May. 12, 2011, 12:12 PM
froglander, you can ask in phases. Pick up your energy, then use seat, thigh, calf, heel. Then hold, and spank. I usually have a rope I slap myself with, going back and forth, one side to the other, on my upper body. I increase in intensity as I progress to touching more and more of the body of the horse. Of course, the horse is already accustomed to ropes being flung about it, etc. You could also use a whip if you desired - as long as you did it in phases. Use your energy, seat, thigh, calf, heel, and hold that pressure. Then create a little commotion with the (dressage, preferably) whip, and get more and more intense in your commotion until you are increasingly touching the horse, with increasing intensity.

When you do it in phases, the horse can predict and thus is comfortable with your request, rather than reactive because he perceives you as unpredictable. Since he knows what phases you will follow each and every time, he has the chance to respond to the lightest phase (your lifting your energy, maybe squeezing with your seat). As light as possible but as effective (ie, touch) as necessary.

If your horse is really resistant though, it is very likely it is a strength and/or balancing issue, so don't push it. Things should be a natural progression for the horse and if the horse says 'no', go back and develop the foundation/basics further, then re-ask when the horse is better prepared. Ask him to canter on the longe to further develop his strength and balance and to continue to establish the canter u/s - you don't have to do endless laps, 4 max is good unless you're otherwise engaging his mind (ie, having him work over poles or such).


CHT, I introduce all concepts initially to the horse on the ground, including canter, even if it is only half a lap or a few strides. Preferably, I do a few laps over the course of several sessions, until the horse is calm, relaxed, and confident. That said, if it is not possible for whatever reason, I don't lose sleep over it.

The naturally fearful horse requires lots of repetition and further development of the basics and of the foundation, and the horse who's maybe less respectful requires mental stimulation and more challenge/demand.

My process/program and the steps I take with each horse are the same, however I might focus more on certain exercises with one horse and less with another, so the process is tailored to each horse.

In the specific situation you mentioned, any reactivity is what I would be worried about and would want to work to eliminate, keeping in mind the horse's limitations. If the horse is simply forward but generally accepting, relaxed, and confident, I wouldn't be worried. If possible given the horse's limitations, I'd maybe ask for half a lap of canter, or only a few strides, each direction. Doing so would intro the concept and allow me to gauge how the horse will react u/s. Canter as minimal as possible, but until the horse is relaxed and calm (relatively at least) if possible. It depends on the horse and the extent of the injury, but likely a few laps, especially over the course of several sessions, is not going to take any more toll than what the horse does in his own pasture/paddock. It's the endless and repetitive circling that really is detrimental to a horse's joints and body.

In this case, if canter weren't possible whatsoever, I'd simply focus even moreso on the foundation and ensure the horse was prepared 100 percent prior to asking for the canter: ensure the horse is comfortable with walk and trot, and engage the horse in various trot exercises that develop the trot (ie, strength, co-ordination, balance, and the horse's mental and emotional state overall). If the horse has a prior injury, a lot of focus on strengthening and balance and co-ordination overall will be of great benefit anyways.

Bogey2
May. 12, 2011, 01:27 PM
Now, what if you have a horse that you really aren't supposed to lunge (injured fetlock, lunging puts more torque on joint), so hasn't been lunged other than a few loops a year ago as a 2 year old?

I followed my horse on the lunge (indoors) he was too big to do a lot of circles unbalanced.
Under saddle (for frog) pick up the trot on the long side, switch to the wrong diagonal halfway down then ask for the canter in the first corner.

froglander
May. 12, 2011, 01:41 PM
Under saddle (for frog) pick up the trot on the long side, switch to the wrong diagonal halfway down then ask for the canter in the first corner.

Thanks! I'll give that a try. I just have to remember to keep breathing...

I wish the arena actually /had/ a long side and a short side, lol.
It's nice and big, but is more square than rectangle. The size of it has been part of the reason I've been so hesitant to canter on my greenie.

(Not a beginner rider, but not riding for 4 years and then adopting a 2 year old mustang is probably not the wisest choice for getting back into horses, lol. Not that he's been wild and crazy or anything, just the whole green horse bit and me not having the confidence I used to have).

CZF
May. 12, 2011, 02:26 PM
LOL Froglander!

Don't worry, I bought a yearling and I had to back him after not riding for two years. I'm still so freaking out of shape! :D A mustang, eh? They're so cool!

froglander
May. 12, 2011, 02:37 PM
LOL Froglander!

Don't worry, I bought a yearling and I had to back him after not riding for two years. I'm still so freaking out of shape! :D A mustang, eh? They're so cool!

Just a quick side note then back to our regular programming/thread, heh.

Yeah, got him as a 2ish year old about 2.5 years ago. Have done all his training so far myself and while we could probably be further along, I've had fun and he doesn't seem any worse off for it. Getting him as a two year old we've had time to do lots of groundwork and stuff and he's been a blast. It's funny, people are often impressed by the little bugger and how nice of a horse he is. I figure it's partly he's reasonably level-headed and partly I guess I haven't done a half-bad job training him :) We've been at the new barn since the beginning of January and have made some good progress, I just need to take a deep breath and work on cantering more amongst many other things. Mustangs rock :)

CHT-can you work your horse on a long lunge line and walk around as you do it to make the circle even bigger and cement the canter with a verbal cue that way?

CHT
May. 12, 2011, 04:37 PM
....CHT-can you work your horse on a long lunge line and walk around as you do it to make the circle even bigger and cement the canter with a verbal cue that way?

Yes, I likely can, I just worry as I know how silly horses can get on the canter on the lunge for the first time! But likely better with me on the ground than on her.

froglander
May. 12, 2011, 04:48 PM
Yes, I likely can, I just worry as I know how silly horses can get on the canter on the lunge for the first time! But likely better with me on the ground than on her.

Hopefully she'll just have one episode of the sillies and then settle in to it :)

If you are worried about lungeing her at a canter, will she be okay to be ridden at a canter on a circle?

tabula rashah
May. 12, 2011, 07:32 PM
I always do my first couple canters out on the trail- usually towards the end of the ride and usually with a slight uphill and following another steady horse. Works fabulously as they just kind of naturally go into it and are much more balanced then when on a circle.

Horseymama
May. 12, 2011, 10:56 PM
Like some others have said, my babies first learn verbal commands on the lunge line. When I first pick up the canter under saddle, I really don't expect more than a few strides. I do it in our round pen and I always have an assistant on the ground in the middle with a lunge whip, as if she were lunging me. If need be, she can wiggle the whip and say the verbal command, too. It takes a while for a baby to build the strength to carry a rider at the canter. Even if they only canter for 3 strides the first time, they get lots of praise from me!

meupatdoes
May. 12, 2011, 11:14 PM
If you can't use the longe line to really install the verbal command (which personally I think is better than arbitrarily 'spanking' when the horse has no way to associate "leg" with "canter please"), try having another horse give you a lead.

;)

Then when the horse picks up the canter, be very deliberate about associating the leg cue with the depart.

ie, find a way to get the canter and THEN associate the leg cue with it, not the other way around where people leg leg LEG ESCALATE as if the horse is supposed to psychically know what a leg aid is.

Pocket Pony
May. 12, 2011, 11:18 PM
I'm working on this right now, myself. I also like to canter out on the trail. In a straight line, slight incline, there's no need to worry about being on the wrong lead and going around a corner, they get a wide open and straight place to move out, and it does help to follow another horse. We can work on forward that way, without worrying about steering.

In the arena, we're working on canter on the longe. The main thing we're working on is balance - moving off the inside shoulder, taking the correct step at the trot so that going into the canter is smooth and easy. I've found that my horse tells me when he's ready for more. Lately he's been wanting to canter more, so I'm taking that as a sign that his body and mind have developed to the point where he's more confident in his balance and is ready to move on to the next thing.

Oh, and he canters off a "kiss" sound.

My horse is a 5-year-old mustang and I've had him for a year.

meupatdoes
May. 12, 2011, 11:27 PM
froglander, you can ask in phases. Pick up your energy, then use seat, thigh, calf, heel. Then hold, and spank. I usually have a rope I slap myself with, going back and forth, one side to the other, on my upper body. I increase in intensity as I progress to touching more and more of the body of the horse. Of course, the horse is already accustomed to ropes being flung about it, etc. You could also use a whip if you desired - as long as you did it in phases. Use your energy, seat, thigh, calf, heel, and hold that pressure. Then create a little commotion with the (dressage, preferably) whip, and get more and more intense in your commotion until you are increasingly touching the horse, with increasing intensity.

Can I just say, I strongly disagree with this.

Imagine you are sitting minding your business on COTH and I come over and poke you.
You are a kind, non-reactive soul so you look at me a little funny and turn back to COTH.
So I whack you.
You look at me like, "WTF?" and shift uncomfortably in your seat.
So I hit you with a whip.
You look at me again but I am already all WHAP WHAP!!


Why are you confused?

Because I am escalating my aids without you having any idea what you are supposed to associate them with.

Are you supposed to stand up?
Are you supposed to speak?
Are you supposed to roll your chair to the left?

WHAP WHAP WHAP!!
(Oh, but please let me train you not to be too reactive while I am at it. You aren't supposed to react, except when you are but I haven't explained what I want yet.)

And don't look at me from your chair as I flail a rope at you and tell me with big eyes and defensive posture this is unfair. After all, I did all this "in phases." We just happen to have arrived at the WHAP WHAP CLUCK SPANK KICK WHAP KICK SPANK SPANK WHAP! phase. Now your job is to think about it (WHAP!) calmly (WHAP!) and see if you can figure out (SPANK!) what you need to do to get me to (KICK!) stop.

A leg aid is just as arbitrary to a green horse as anything else.
You may as well stroke the top of his tail and then beat him when he doesn't go.


Now, if I came up and said "Please stand" while I poked you, and you knew this cue already you would stand and get a reeses peanut butter cup.
Maybe I would have to say "Please stand" twice more and poke gently before I could just lightly touch your arm and you would stand up.

Note the transition from verbal cue to physical cue we just did there.

So, it is a rider's choice.
They can mindlessly escalate after a completely arbitrary physical cue without explaining anything to the horse and wait until the horse finally "guesses right," or they can methodically and deliberately ASSOCIATE the cue with the desired response.

KrazyTBMare
May. 12, 2011, 11:28 PM
Rex is my first horse to ever start but it has been super easy, esp with the help from my trainer, Dean Graham.

The first time we cantered u/s was our 5th ride, only 3 times doing more than a walk. We had trotted 2 times on the lunge and 1 time off the lunge before. We were actually at a young horse clinic in a round pen. Dean was riding and was riding while his wife "lunged" Rex. He agrees you just incoorperate the ground cues to under saddle. His theory is to not make the transition a big deal - basically trot them forward enough that they break into a canter and start off as soon as you can so cantering is no big deal.

Rex understood the canter cue from the ground so having a grounds person raise the lunge whip and say canter at the same time Dean squeezed with his leg and he figured it right out. It only took 1 or 2 more rides with Dean riding for Rex to understand our current canter cue (as right now, forward is the name of the game) which is leg on, lift with seat, and if no response, little tap tap tap behind leg with the dressage whip (and these are very light taps).

I have a video of my first time cantering Rex (I got on after Dean did) so you can see how we did it.

http://www.facebook.com/v/1644106429732

That was in mid November. This is back in March... approx ride #15-18 (I only ride him like once a week as hes still growing and I dont want to work him too much) but this is where we were with the canter (forgive me as Im like stupid to the left so you can see where I struggle)

http://www.facebook.com/v/1842421187477


meup & horsey, thats exactly how we did it. Instill the canter cue from the ground and find a way to link it with a cue u/s while having a grounds person use the same ground cue for canter and just continue to build from there.

naturalequus
May. 13, 2011, 01:24 AM
Meupatdoes, you are greatly misunderstanding my post. Did you miss the part in my post where I stated:

...I introduce all concepts initially to the horse on the ground...

?? :confused: I teach everything on the ground first.

Horses are not born knowing what leg cues are (and neither do horses naturally move off of pressure initially) and many horses started u/s (especially racehorses) often do not understand leg cues either... I understand that. I've re-trained a number of horses now and have successfully started a lot of horses u/s. The horses I start are light, soft, relaxed, confident, and non-reactive. I've currently got 5 client horses on my current roster and though I've only worked with them 5 sessions now, the owners are already noting a difference in their horses - the horses are quieter. I only mention this so you know where I am coming from - the proof is in the pudding.

I do not always use verbal commands however that does not mean I instead arbitrarily spank, either :eek: Sheesh, that is NOT what I said. My post to froglander was addressing the specific cue, since froglander asked what she/he could do beyond a smooch/voice cue. It is one other way to ask. I am assuming all prior and proper preparation (including groundwork) is done and that the horse understands the forward cue (including leg aids) at the walk and trot. If the horse does not yet (fully) understand forward at the walk and trot, egad(!), they should NOT yet be asking for the canter.

People do not necessarily have to do it your way (ie, verbal commands) for it to work and produce a non-reactive, calm and relaxed horse who understands what is being asked of it. If you want to teach voice cues first, so be it. Some teach voice cues first, some teach them after, some teach them simultaneously. Some use clicker training or some other means of ask.

The way I start horses is - as I mentioned in my original post - a step-by-step progressive process that is tailored to each horse. It's like creating building blocks, then slowly and progressively stacking those building blocks in a way that the horse understands. As such, you create a calm horse and the work you do with that horse is harmonious and does not create a reactive horse (in fact, it develops the exact opposite). Eventually those building blocks also encompass the canter. If the horse balks at any time, I might remove a block from the stack, re-cement the other blocks, then re-add that block.

By the time I ask the horse to canter u/s though, they know what the leg cue (and all other associated cues) mean because I have developed a proper foundation and all the basics prior - as such, they are not reactive to the request. That's why I said in my initial post:

Things should be a natural (insert: harmonious!) progression for the horse and if the horse says 'no', go back and develop the foundation/basics further, then re-ask when the horse is better prepared.

If the horse is reactive (ie, says 'no'), it is for a reason, so go back and develop the foundation or basics further, then re-ask when the horse is better prepared for what you are asking. It might be a communication issue, it might be a partnership issue, it might be a strength or balance issue. Back up a few steps, re-establish what the horse does know, and then slowly re-build and fill in any gaps.

You develop the language FIRST (whatever language you use), then you can use that language, whether that language be verbal cues or body language (ie, energy) or physical pressure (ie, leg) or a combination of some or all of those, or what. Or, as aforementioned, clicker training!


Eta: oh, and the 'spank' I was explaining? It's one of the final phases (don't forget the horse has to first be TAUGHT and understand the other phases first!), and is done on YOU, the RIDER, first, gradually moving the 'spank' down to the horse and increasing. If you've established all your basics already, the horse already knows to move off your leg (because you have established as such on the ground first, then at the walk and trot) and you probably won't even get to touching the horse because the horse already understands your phases. The idea is not to spank the horse - and particularly not arbitrarily - the idea is to create a commotion and increase in intensity - after applying the initial phases of ask. Touch is the final final final step and will probably only be done once, if at all, and light at that (like flicking my hand gently with the other hand). If you have to increase in intensity to a more effective touch, that is okay... but you have to make sure you're being fair and you've established all the basics PRIOR. It does not involve 'whacking' the horse as you suggest, meupatdoes. The idea is, as mentioned, to teach the horse the language first, then to use that language. You set the horse up for success, establish parameters, then let the horse figure it out, and reward with a release. Timing is key.

I think I should have been clearer, because I am guessing froglander's horse does not yet understand to move off of leg cues and only understands to move forward in walk and trot off a smooch. Personally, I want my horses to learn to move off the leg asap. It's the reason I teach it on the ground first. Reason being, is I am going to be using leg cues for forward and for riding leg to hand, throughout that horse's training. It's part of the horse's basics. So I teach it right away. Whether one wants to instead teach voice cues, then apply leg to those voice cues, or whether one simply wants to teach the horse to move off of pressure and then use exercises u/s from a stand-still and at the walk to apply that horse's knowledge of moving off of pressure on the ground to doing so u/s (to leg), is that rider/trainer's choice. Both can be equally as successful, so it is mostly a matter of preference. However I like to establish all that first prior to asking for the canter. It hadn't occurred to me to clarify to froglander that the horse should already understand otherwise to move off of pressure and thus leg, at the point in training where the canter is now being asked for u/s. I'm assuming it is already established as part of the basics at the walk and trot first - whether voice commands were used initially or not. Perhaps I should have clarified in my original response, but I was offering ONE suggestion from ONE perspective and ONE method of achieving the same.

meupatdoes
May. 13, 2011, 07:23 AM
Meupatdoes, you are greatly misunderstanding my post. Did you miss the part in my post where I stated:

...I introduce all concepts initially to the horse on the ground...

?? :confused: I teach everything on the ground first.

Horses are not born knowing what leg cues are (and neither do horses naturally move off of pressure initially) and many horses started u/s (especially racehorses) often do not understand leg cues either... I understand that.


Eta: oh, and the 'spank' I was explaining? It's one of the final phases (don't forget the horse has to first be TAUGHT and understand the other phases first!), and is done on YOU, the RIDER, first, gradually moving the 'spank' down to the horse and increasing. If you've established all your basics already, the horse already knows to move off your leg (because you have established as such on the ground first, then at the walk and trot) and you probably won't even get to touching the horse because the horse already understands your phases.

1. Can you please explain how you teach a horse to move forward off the leg from the ground? I mean, I can see sideways but forward would really be a trick.

Seeing how a leg aid is physical pressure on the horse's side I am picturing you walking along next to the horse, then running alongside him as you get him to trot while pushing on his side so he associates the cue with the moving faster (which of course we are all clear that "moving faster" is entirely different from "moving over" so it would be a little unfair to teach "moving over" on the ground first and then all of a sudden it means "moving faster" when you climb on).

2. As for introducing the spank (in phases, I know, I know), I guess by analogy it helps when teaching a horse to longe to first hit YOURSELF with the longe whip (after perhaps you have shaken your leg at him from the middle of the circle to "teach him a leg aid from the ground"?) and then gradually transfer the direction of the whip until it lands mostly on him? :confused:


The horse really does not care whether you call it "creating a commotion," "spanking," or "using energy" or "whacking". To him it is all the same. First you inexplicably whacked yourself with a rope for whatever training purpose this is supposed to achieve (:confused::confused:), and gradually you transfered the whacking to him.

3. Considering how my initial suggestion to OP did not involve a verbal cue, obviously I don't think verbal cues are the only way. I just am doing my level best, as someone who has also started horses from scratch before, to imagine myself doing what you have described at great length in extensive detail...
...and I quite honestly am still at a loss.

Perhaps if you stand next to me and whack yourself with a rope it will all come clear.

froglander
May. 13, 2011, 08:27 AM
So many perspecties on how to teach a horse to go forward :)

Before I climbed in the saddle, my horse moved off well from a cluck (trot) and a kiss (canter). The first couple of rides were in a small pen (the round pen wasn't available at that time) with my friend standing in the middle and I was just a passenger. Once he had those initial steps of moving with something on his back, we started adding leg to the forward cue so he was able to make that association.

At this point in his training, he moves off well (if sometimes lazy) at a walk and a trot. Sometimes if he wasn't getting the "I asked you to trot now", I'd slap my thigh with the flat of my hand and that was often enough to remind him about forward. My lessons are on Saturday mornings and he's lazy in the mornings (much more GO pony when I ride in the evening during the rest of the week) and so last Saturday I decided to carry a dressage whip for the first time. I'd been going over some books I have and really liked Lendon Gray's '25 lessons' book. The first one of which is 'whoa' and 'go'. So following those principles of (1) ask nicely, (2) ask more firmly-ie give them a kick, (3) a tap with the whip to reinforce the leg cue, (4) if they've totally blown you off at this point, give them a whack with the whip and be prepared for them to jump forward. The main point though is that once you get that trot, you bring them back to a walk and ask nicely again.

Now, at this point, he knows that I am asking for a trot, he's just been lazy (I really need to get him out of the arena, I so wish there were trails close by!). So I asked for the trot, took a few strides to go from walk to trot, so I asked again and when he didn't responde I tapped him with the whip. He was surprised and kinda jumped forward and it was hard to get him back to a walk to ask again, lol. But when I asked nicely with my legs he gave me a prompt transition to a nice forward feeling trot. I had to use a tap of the dressage whip as a reminder one other time during that ride and he's been pretty good about it since.

Now, we /don't/ have a leg 'cue' for a canter yet, we haven't cantered enough to do that. So the few times I do canter, it usually involves a 'kiss' sound that when lunging sends him right into a canter. Under saddle, I think he is still a little uncertain, and from reading all these posts, I think I need to let him do it on a straight line instead of keeping him on a circle.

We're getting there, and the different perspectives that have been presented here have given me some ideas of things to try, so thank you :)

I hope the OP has gotten some useful information as well :)

naturalequus
May. 13, 2011, 08:57 AM
1. Can you please explain how you teach a horse to move forward off the leg from the ground? I mean, I can see sideways but forward would really be a trick.

Actually when you teach a horse to move off or pressure in various ways, they extend it pretty easily and quickly to forward. As I mentioned previously - I do a ton of groundwork using a lot of exercises and patterns to build to the cues and language etc I will use u/s. Once in the saddle, I ask the horse for turns on the fore and hind (as much as they are capable of, anyway, lol), then take what they offer and extend that to forward (ie, open rein, etc). Like I said, I'm always creating those building blocks, stacking them, and molding what the horse offers. Pretty simple, really... horses are smart and I have never had in issue with a youngster 'getting it' :winkgrin:


2. As for introducing the spank (in phases, I know, I know), I guess by analogy it helps when teaching a horse to longe to first hit YOURSELF with the longe whip (after perhaps you have shaken your leg at him from the middle of the circle to "teach him a leg aid from the ground"?) and then gradually transfer the direction of the whip until it lands mostly on him? :confused:

Nope, don't hit myself with the longe on the ground. Duh. But I do ask with the whip or end of the rope in phases. Like I said, it's about the commotion that increases pressure and decreases the comfort level to the horse and causes them to think and try. Then you release when they provide the right answer (it's the release that teaches); you have the proper foundation and basics though laid out for each 'next' exercise so that the right answer though is usually their first answer. You set them up for success. Back to the commotion via rope or whip or what - all these youngsters are desensitized to ropes around all body parts and being flung anywhere and everywhere, so it's not a fear thing via the rope either. It's just about creating commotion. An alternative is to - as I mentioned in my initial post - use a dressage whip to re-inforce the leg and wiggle it. Increase the wiggle and commotion of the dressage whip - you can get pretty big with your commotion (where the horse responds) before you ever have to 'touch' the horse.

You don't get it - that's okay. But the horses do.


3. Considering how my initial suggestion to OP did not involve a verbal cue, obviously I don't think verbal cues are the only way.

My mistake. Your response to my post dictated using verbal cues.


I get it if you don't understand the process I use specifically. You're not seeing the entire process from start to finish and the results it produces. That's fine. My hope was that my post maybe provided froglander some tips, not you anyway. I don't think that's a reason for the snarkiness though, especially when I have extended nothing but respect towards you meuptodoes :winkgrin:

naturalequus
May. 13, 2011, 09:12 AM
So many perspecties on how to teach a horse to go forward :)

Before I climbed in the saddle, my horse moved off well from a cluck (trot) and a kiss (canter).

Definitely a lot of perspectives. If a person can, I greatly recommend ground-driving to teach a horse to go forward, also :)

I also use a cluck or kiss often in my work. I actually usually also end up inadvertently using it on the ground to make myself clearer, so it just naturally usually follows me up u/s, too. I just don't teach any specific verbal cues - usually.


Sometimes if he wasn't getting the "I asked you to trot now", I'd slap my thigh with the flat of my hand and that was often enough to remind him about forward.

Wait, you slapped yourself??! :eek: J/k, lol, but that's exactly what I meant in my above post to meupatdoes, about creating a commotion :yes:

froglander, sounds like you're doing a great job.

If I can (if you don't mind), I'd also suggest the point-to-point exercise to further cement the forward and increase motivation, since you mention your boy is 'lazy' at times?

It's been on this board a number of times, but I most recently explained it in this post:
http://www.chronofhorse.com/forum/showthread.php?t=304419

Maybe that would help? :yes: Sounds like the whip backing up your leg does the trick most of the time, but thought I would make the suggestion anyway.

If he understands thoroughly to move off your leg for walk and trot, he can apply the same for canter. Just use the kiss to back-up your leg so he really makes that association. He will be unsure at first, which is why timing is key - the minute he tries in the right direction (ie, a canter), release, even if you only achieve a transition then an immediate transition down. You can next build off that and ask for a few strides, then a whole line or what. Definitely do it on a straight line as opposed to a circle - it will help with his lack of balance and co-ordination yet. Circles require more balance and engagement (which is why they are so great for teaching increased engagement that leads to collection), and he probably isn't quite there yet. Slowly build to circles - but keep them to the size of the entire arena when you do eventually build to them. Don't worry at first about his cutting corners (within reason) and being a little crooked as he seeks to balance himself, provided he is following the wall. Set him up within certain parameters (ie, (1)you maintain gait until I say otherwise - make sure you don't ask too much of him though of course - and (2)you follow the wall), then leave him alone and only correct when he leaves those parameters. Once you have the rough basics, you can refine :)

Anyway, hope that helps and good luck!!

Equibrit
May. 13, 2011, 11:56 AM
As soon as my horses are doing W/T under saddle they go out on the trail/cross country (with others) where most of their basic training is done. They learn to balance over varying terrain, change gait, go forward, go over/around, through, whatever comes up, and become a lot more confident in their work. Relaxation, rythm, balance, and contact can be achieved with VERY LITTLE FUSS AND PALAVER. (no spanking and cranking). All you have to be is a little smarter than your horse.

naturalequus
May. 13, 2011, 02:31 PM
Spanking and cranking is not what we are talking about here. No one is advocating for spanking and cranking Equibrit.

I have to second the rest of your post though. Giving the horse a job to do is always a VERY good idea and taking the horse out on the trails, where forward momentum up hills is easiest and naturally encouraged via the environment (the hill), is a great idea too (though this is not possible for everyone). Any practical-type work as the aforementioned will teach the horse confidence, relaxation, balance, etc better and quicker than the work one can do in an arena so if it is an option available to the rider, I highly encourage them to do so :)

Equibrit
May. 13, 2011, 03:25 PM
Spanking and cranking is not what we are talking about here. No one is advocating for spanking and cranking Equibrit.

I have to second the rest of your post though. Giving the horse a job to do is always a VERY good idea and taking the horse out on the trails, where forward momentum up hills is easiest and naturally encouraged via the environment (the hill), is a great idea too (though this is not possible for everyone). Any practical-type work as the aforementioned will teach the horse confidence, relaxation, balance, etc better and quicker than the work one can do in an arena so if it is an option available to the rider, I highly encourage them to do so :)

That's big of you.

Equibrit
May. 13, 2011, 03:34 PM
I have to admit to being somewhat confused about the notion of having to "introduce" a horse to a gait with which he was born and is very familiar. All you should be doing is familiarizing a horse with the feeling and balance of weight on his back. I would hazard a guess that the "trainer" is inexperienced and skeered in this instance, and it's probably more of a problem in the rider's head than the horse's.

froglander
May. 13, 2011, 03:47 PM
I have to admit to being somewhat confused about the notion of having to "introduce" a horse to a gait with which he was born and is very familiar. All you should be doing is familiarizing a horse with the feeling and balance of weight on his back. I would hazard a guess that the "trainer" is inexperienced and skeered in this instance, and it's probably more of a problem in the rider's head than the horse's.

If that is in reference to me, I think I already mentioned being nervous about cantering? Or at least I thought I did. I know it's all in my head but sometimes that's hard to get past :(

Btw, is your signature in morse code?

naturalequus
May. 13, 2011, 03:55 PM
That's big of you.

What's big of me, that I agree with you?? That we have philosophies and training methods similar in some ways? :confused: Equibrit and meupatdoes, I understand we've all disagreed in the past, but we also agree on quite a lot as well. I'm the FIRST person to jump on the cranking and spanking, I'm the FIRST person to advocate for the horse, and I practise what I preach. My approach is natural/classical and my horses are quiet, relaxed, and enjoy being around me - I am in no way causing them to be reactive or such via my methods. They are successful and love their work. I am a little confused as to why such snarkiness has to pop up in this thread and de-rail it. I already explained my initial response and post to the OP and froglander. Hopefully my explanation lends to further clarity. So can we just stay on topic now, and address CHT's original topic and questions?


I think the question is about introducing the concept of a gait the horse is already familiar with, but u/s with the weight of a rider. It is an increased challenge for the horse, so the question is what steps to take to properly prepare the horse and make the canter as easy a learning step as the walk and trot. Introducing the canter is a little more difficult than the walk and trot, just because it is an increased pace and more can go awry. Imo *shrug*. In this case, the OP was asking about how to introduce the canter to the horse u/s, in a way that the horse can understand, with limited possibility for first teaching the horse the canter u/s on the ground. Unless you're addressing froglander, in which case froglander seems to be doing their best and following a good process. We are all free to ask questions and seek advice and further education, knowledge, and comprehension.

pryme_thyme
May. 13, 2011, 04:29 PM
Froglander.... I just broke my three year old DWB filly last fall.
She is slightly lazy but does get energetic at times.

Initially, I began teaching her voice commands while free lunging. Most babies like to play in the arena since the footing is great.
If he/she canters around by his/her self I say "Good Can-ter* and make a fuss.

Then lunging, with youngsters, instead of maintaining a circle and standing in one spot which can be hard on the young joints I will follow my horse while on the lunge around the track of the arena making sure he/she respects your space.
Then, when you are ready for the canter, say "CanTer". I go by the Ask, ask*with cluck*, and then tell with a little snap of the whip (being sure not to touch the horse but the noise typically will get them going.) It will take a few tries but once they get it make a fuss again.... My filly responds to high pitched praise and prances off.

If your horse is very lazy you may have to pick up a bit of a jog when asking for canter (being sure to stay a standard lunging distance from the horse).... horses are herd animals and respond best when they watch what you are doing.


When you ask for canter while u/s, don't get nervous if your horses trips and stumbles, give him his head and don't correct him. Just keep your seet deep. It is not easy to adjust to the weight of a rider while using your feet the same way. Just let him go and again when he gets it, another big deal. Then finish for the day...

What I found was that if you finish on your youngster getting what you ask (even if it is sloppy), somehow the next time you ask for it.... it will click.... I read online it has something to do with how the brain works. Typically takes 24 hours for a horse to fully absorb a lesson.

froglander
May. 13, 2011, 04:38 PM
Thank you pryme_thyme :)

I'm hoping this thread is beneficial to the OP as well, I didn't mean to 'steal' it, it's just a topic I've kind of been struggling with so seemed like a golden opportunity to gain some information :)

I have a lesson tomorrow, and I /think/ I have it arranged where the gal who lessons after me will lesson with me instead and hopefully she won't mind of my horse follows at a canter for a bit. I've watched her ride before and she's got a pretty steady fellow. If not, I have some more ideas to work with and if I can just remember to relax and breathe it would help. I've cantered a few times on my gelding (he's 5, but still green, I'm taking my time) and it's actually quite nice to ride. I think part of my problem has been asking for too many strides at first and keeping him on a circle. Hopefully a straight line will help and just being happy with a few strides. (The last time I cantered on him, he broke to a trot after a few strides and it took me forever to finally get him to canter a little bit again).

pryme_thyme
May. 13, 2011, 04:50 PM
My filly has trouble picking up the canter on a circle. I tend to ask going into a corner, so if she blasts off I have the corner to balance her a bit :lol:

Good idea working with a buddy!

When I first started training my filly it was intimidating because i was sitting, waiting for the moment she had enough and became a bronco.
And I have to admit, youngsters learning to canter feels completely off balance and out of control.

If my filly breaks, I just give her lots of praise and say good canter over and over and quit. It is all about having the muscle I have been told...

I tend to do a lot of walk/trot work then finish with one canter alternating directions on each day and moving up to both ways each day.
If he doesnt go when you ask... bring him back to a nice trot and try again. I wish you the best of luck! Babies are a hoot and you get the benefit of knowing they wouldn't know anything without you.:D

mbm
May. 13, 2011, 05:49 PM
Can I just say, I strongly disagree with this.

Imagine you are sitting minding your business on COTH and I come over and poke you.
You are a kind, non-reactive soul so you look at me a little funny and turn back to COTH.
So I whack you.
You look at me like, "WTF?" and shift uncomfortably in your seat.
So I hit you with a whip.
You look at me again but I am already all WHAP WHAP!!


Why are you confused?

Because I am escalating my aids without you having any idea what you are supposed to associate them with.

Are you supposed to stand up?
Are you supposed to speak?
Are you supposed to roll your chair to the left?

WHAP WHAP WHAP!!
(Oh, but please let me train you not to be too reactive while I am at it. You aren't supposed to react, except when you are but I haven't explained what I want yet.)

And don't look at me from your chair as I flail a rope at you and tell me with big eyes and defensive posture this is unfair. After all, I did all this "in phases." We just happen to have arrived at the WHAP WHAP CLUCK SPANK KICK WHAP KICK SPANK SPANK WHAP! phase. Now your job is to think about it (WHAP!) calmly (WHAP!) and see if you can figure out (SPANK!) what you need to do to get me to (KICK!) stop.

A leg aid is just as arbitrary to a green horse as anything else.
You may as well stroke the top of his tail and then beat him when he doesn't go.


Now, if I came up and said "Please stand" while I poked you, and you knew this cue already you would stand and get a reeses peanut butter cup.
Maybe I would have to say "Please stand" twice more and poke gently before I could just lightly touch your arm and you would stand up.

Note the transition from verbal cue to physical cue we just did there.

So, it is a rider's choice.
They can mindlessly escalate after a completely arbitrary physical cue without explaining anything to the horse and wait until the horse finally "guesses right," or they can methodically and deliberately ASSOCIATE the cue with the desired response.

10000% ^^ this.....

spanking a horse that has no clue what you are asking for is really non productive.....

naturalequus
May. 13, 2011, 05:55 PM
I think everyone can agree with that, mbm. No one is advocating for what meupatdoes suggested. :rolleyes: Sorry - if my responses after meupatdoes's post do not clarify to the point of comprehension, then I don't know how to further clarify what I meant.

Equibrit
May. 13, 2011, 06:08 PM
What's big of me, that I agree with you??

I don't know about anybody else, but I do not appreciate lectures from sycophantic novices.

naturalequus
May. 13, 2011, 06:29 PM
Yikes Equibrit, ouch :eek:

My apologies, I hadn't realised I was somehow lecturing you. I was only agreeing with your post! The part about the spanking and cranking was just to clarify, as I felt your mention of it was likely/possibly done in response to my post (otherwise, why else bring it up, the discussion here had not included crank and spank prior - so my reasoning I feel is valid). I was a little over-eager about clarifying about the crank and spank and my position on it, after I felt I was so harshly and grossly misunderstood and so I might have wrongly projected that upon my interpretation of your post. Sorry.

And I am certainly not a novice, albeit I am still learning so much, just as anyone here :)

As I said though, I apologize if you feel I was lecturing you. That is not what I meant by my post.

Anyway, sorry OP for contributing to taking this poor thread so off topic now, it's not fair to you.

Eta: your post has been reported Equibrit. First for everything! I felt it was quite over-the-top and your opinion could have been expressed in a different and more respectful manner. I certainly had no intentions of offending you :no:

Equibrit
May. 13, 2011, 06:30 PM
Not interested.

meupatdoes
May. 13, 2011, 08:49 PM
Eta: your post has been reported Equibrit. First for everything! I felt it was quite over-the-top and your opinion could have been expressed in a different and more respectful manner. I certainly had no intentions of offending you :no:

Oh for Christ's sake.

EqTrainer
May. 13, 2011, 09:24 PM
Sigh.

You can make things really complex and complicated but that doesnt make it better. It just makes it take longer, which leaves more room for error and misunderstanding.

Teach them on the longe. Use the same voice aid in conjunction with the leg aid. Phase out the voice aid.

Most of them I canter right away. If I am retraining a horse, I might wait for certain things first. A few unbalanced youngsters benefit by waiting.

But really.. Simple is best. They are just horses.

CHT
May. 13, 2011, 10:25 PM
I tried asking Red Head to just fall into the canter under saddle by asking her more forward and adjusting my rhythm/balance...but she put her head down and shook it side to side...which I interpretted as her telling me to stop being an idiot. So i did a little more trot, some turn on the forehand, and then got off and did a tiny lunge (sshhh, don't tell my vet...). Apparently she remembers lunging, but thinks "good girl" means turn and trot right in to me. But she picked up the canter just with me stomping my foot at her, and saying canter. Third time didn't even need the foot stomp so we ended there. Only did a few strides each time because I couldn't seem to refrain from saying "good girl". No buck or sillyness, so that was nice.

I think I will continue to work on her understanding of outside leg back, and do a few more lunge sessions at the end of rides, and I am confident she will put the two together. It is interesting how differently it is for ME mentally to start a horse without being able to just lunge it.

naturalequus
May. 13, 2011, 10:29 PM
Ime she definitely will put two-and-two together in such a manner CHT, keep it up :) Doing it step-by-step as you are, and breaking it down for her, will help her understand and get the answer right.

Glad to hear the update, don't forget to update us further!!

rugbygirl
May. 14, 2011, 02:19 AM
usually towards the end of the ride and usually with a slight uphill and following another steady horse. Works fabulously as they just kind of naturally go into it and are much more balanced then when on a circle

:yes:


This also works if the horse is well-schooled but the rider is a basket case. I think Equibrit must have known I was reading this thread with their comments, because just today I caught myself with a death grip on the reins having to interrupt a HILARIOUS internal monologue of reasons "my horse" couldn't possibly be expected to canter today. Hill, near end of ride, tiny puddle that my horse GLEEFULLY jumped to avoid walking in, and we were cantering. ZOMG. Then I remembered that cantering is fun! Whee!

Anyway. I think my old mare never really trusted that the rider would stay in place if she let go and cantered. Very polite in her refusal to do so, just kept trotting faster and faster and faster. The magic button was a big open field and no one watching...sure, I chased her into it the first time and she kind of lunged into the first few strides in a tooth-jarring kind of way, but about 5 strides in with me still in place, everything levelled out. I let her run to the end of the field, turned around, asked again, and then started asking for steering and brakes. She remembered it from the walking and trotting. It just sort of WORKED after that. She knew her leads the best of any horse I've ridden too :yes: That horse did make me re-consider a lot about training logic though. I could understand why she didn't ever really link the canter command from the ground with the one from the saddle, and why she'd have no reason to NOT want to canter without a rider...but several reasons to maybe think that was not a great idea with the moving weight on her back.

I also really think that the uphill or small X jump or something is really useful to getting the horse set up properly to canter with a rider. Something about getting their hinds under them before they have to kind of shift the weight to the one leg maybe? A really gentle uphill would maybe help without over stressing the ligament?

RedHorses
May. 14, 2011, 12:48 PM
It was an accident. I did longe with saddle, and do w/t/c on the longe, but the first canter under saddle was an accident. We were trotting over some poles and he just stepped into canter, I automatically steadied him then realized he wasn't unbalanced or running and he came back to trot after about seven strides. After that I did ask him for the canter first by pushing the trot forward with my leg and vocalizing when I used the canter leg aids. He was totally unstressed about it all, and very well balanced. It was at least 3 months after I first got on him that he cantered - I only rode him once or twice a week though.

I find that using the inside leg when the horse's inside hind leg is coming forward often gives them the idea to go to canter before they are just running in the trot.

I do the "install leg means forward" before mounting up too. It is the coolest :cool: thing to sit on a baby horse for the first time, wiggle my legs and have the horse calmly and confidently walk on. I walk beside the horse with reins bridged in one hand at the withers (and a finger of mane so I don't inadvertently pull on the reins when the horse moves) and hold the stirrup leather above the stirrup in my other hand, which I then use to tap, tap on the horse's side. I use the known voice command for walk, and fade that out quickly, and of course work the exercise on both sides.

froglander
May. 14, 2011, 01:19 PM
We cantered today!

Was going to try following someone around on their nice steady gelding, but nixed that idea when my horse was just following at a trot and thought he needed to be zoomy and catch up, was rattling my nerves a bit. So we continued with our lesson (first time lessoning with this other gal and her horse, but it was great, we took turns being the horse in front--good for both horses, and we had to do some laps side by side--man my horse needs to be ridden around other horses A LOT more, and she has a truck and trailer and would love to have someone to go trail riding with and doesn't mind Mr. Green tagging along).

Last bit of the lesson though, we decided to have my horse try cantering along one of the straight sides. We picked up a trot, over some ground poles, turned left, turned left at the corner and I asked him to canter by making the 'kiss' sound I use on the ground. He was like "you want me to what? I'll trot really fast, how's that?" So we circled around over the ground poles again and I asked right as we were coming out of the corner and he cantered! It was great :) I brought him back to a trot before the next corner (where the other horse/rider and instructor were standing) and we trotted right past the other horse.

Then instructor said I had to do it the other way, eep! So back down the middle over the trot poles, turned right, and as we were coming out of the corner I asked him for the canter again and he did it :) About halfway down the rail I brought him back to a trot and again we trotted past the other horse. We were technically on the wrong lead that time, but it was all a straight line and we actually cantered, so I wasn't that concerned.

At least now I have something I can work on and maybe even work up to cantering all the way around the arena :)

Thank you for all the different ideas and perspectives that came up in this thread, it really helped me take a different approach today and it worked :)

naturalequus
May. 14, 2011, 03:04 PM
Good job froglander!!! I'm so excited for you, that's great!!

Fairview Horse Center
May. 14, 2011, 03:49 PM
What we do is ask for big, very forward trot down the long sides, and slower trot around the short sides. Pretty soon, they begin to anticipate, and get into the bigger/faster trot, shortly to accidentlally step into the canter on one of those fast sides. We just let them canter a few strides, falling back into the trot. Then repeat, asking for them to hold it just a few strides longer.

This helps in a couple of ways, the big, rushy trot gets them used to a lot more movement in them and the rider, so that first canter does not scare/panic them. It also gets them to think of slowing at the corner, or right after going fast, so they don't go running off.