I'd like feedback and exercises from people in order to keep my mare at a constant pace down the long side in canter. She just tends to creep slightly longer strides in as we go along. She seems to blow right through the half halt once she sees that open space in front of her.
Currently, we are doing a 20m canter circle at one end, then continuing down the long side and each time I feel her get more forward, I circle and then continue, etc. It's gone from having to do 4 circles along one side to having to only do 2 circles. Just the suggestion that we are going to circle seems to be backing her off.
We are also doing lots of t/c/t and changing the pace within the gait on the circle.
Your beliefs don't make you a better person, your behaviour does.
This is timely for me. We are experiencing similar problems so I really look forward to what everyone has to say.
I am currently riding Training 1 and 2. Both Canter to trot transitions are immediately after either a half circle or full circle at E or B, so the down transition is on a piece of the long side. My mare wants to blow through my half halts on the circle so by the time we begin to straighten on the 2nd half of the long side I have no brakes. Ugh.
I think for my horse, a lot of this will improve when her strength and balance improves. Lots of transitions in and out of the canter and within the canter are in our immediate future
What about a stride or two of shoulder in/shoulder fore? Would that help to rebalance your mare?
I love shoulder fore for the purposes of adding jump to the canter and really connecting those hind legs to the rest of the horse. Keep the angle small and develop some bend through the body to help shift the balance up off the shoulders and onto the haunches.
However, it sounds like what's really missing is the adjustability in the canter. Play with lengthening and compression on the 20m circle: half the circle is covering more ground, and the other half transform that forward energy into more on-the-spot canter. At first, your transitions between lengthening and working canter may take a few strides, but school towards fewer and fewer strides between sets. You can use shoulder fore on the circle to help develop the working canter from the lengthening.
Once you've got it where you want on the circle, take it on down the long side and keep the same exercise in mind. I'd exaggerate it by lengthening on the short side and bouncing the canter back together on the long side.
Alternatively, start schooling shallow single loops (like you see in First Level Test 3, but only a few m off the wall to start) instead of circling. If at any time you ask for a little less lengthening and your horse blows you off, transition to trot. You may want to school a few canter/trot/canters or, as I like, canter/almost trot/canters as well.
Best of luck!
Last edited by cnm161; Jan. 4, 2013 at 10:58 AM.
Reason: Launches and haunches aren't synonymous...
I have ridden several horses that did this. I would say most of them wanted to push their haunches in as they sped up. What has helped me the most on these types of horses is to think shoulder-in or shoulder-fore as I canter down the long side. When I do that, I actually straighten the horse so that he is more balanced, and then he doesn't feel the need to speed up.
Do a soft S on the long side even just a few feet in using your legs a bit and half halts. If you feel comfortable do a tiny bit of counter flexion on the curved part.
Another would be break it up with either A. A transition (this finishes the idea of yes I want a half halt) down to trot and back up (if that only makes more speed then down to trot then walk even halt of they need a minute and back up to trot and then canter). B. Circle
You could also change the exercise to get your horse thinking differently. Instead of cantering down the long side after your circle, trot. Do your canter work on the circle, then trot down the long side. (Canter at C-circle, trot to E, canter at E-circle, trot to A, and so forth) I find that with my horse who thinks he knows everything, changing up the exercise to surprise him with something new gets him listening better. Then once you have the horse trotting down the long side like he's all that because he knows the drill, then change it up and trot your circles, pick up the canter in the last 1/4 of the circle and canter down the long side. Then put the two exercises together and canter a circle and then canter the long side.
With one of my horses, he anticipates the exercise so much that if we just do the same thing, he takes over. Mixing it up like this can help with the psychology of getting your horse to do what you want him to do.
Halt before you reach the short end. It wont be pretty but make your horse come to a halt and stand still for a few seconds. You will begin to feel your hourse anticipate the halt. This did the trick for my pony.
Like others have said, transitions and circles are your friends. My gelding was wanting to take over last summer and after struggling with it (and pulling on him) for too long, I got serious and helped us change. If he wanted to speed up, we circled or spiraled. If he still wanted to speed up, we circled smaller, or did transitions on that circle (walk/halt, walk/trot, etc.) until he was listening and I didn't need to pull on his face to get him to stop/slow down. Part of his problem was a loss of balance, so part of the solution was doing things that helped him get his hind end under him where it needed to be. After several weeks, we showed marked improvement and now the assumption is that he will listen to my body, I will be clear about what I'm asking, and we use the figures to make a difference if needed.