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  1. #1
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    Default Lateral work causing confusion in canter transition

    Okay, I have a question. I have a 13 yr old arabian mare. This winter we have been working on improving our lateral work. Her leg yields, shoulders-in, an haunches-in have drastically improved but this week, she is taking my canter aids very literally, and once we start to canter she wants to leg yield over. When I try to correct her to go straight she gets offended and flustered. I am sitting straight and stop asking for the canter with my outside leg back as soon as she transitions up. I know that without video it is hard to say, but has anyone run into this before? My next lesson is in two weeks and my trainer that i work occasionally isn't easily reachable.



  2. #2
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    I was taught (and my horse was taught) to canter from the rider's inside leg, not the outside leg. My horse is at FEI, and if I use much outside leg at all for the canter depart, I get drastic haunches-in, or sideways, and he's usually flustered as all get-out about it. Because it's MY mis-communication, not his problem.

    Try simply using less outside leg in the canter depart. If you're using pressure on the outside leg, try not doing that, and using the inside leg only. If you're already only moving your leg back, but not using pressure, try moving your leg back less.

    In a perfect world, all the horse needs is for you to give a nice half-halt, weight your inside seatbone, and squeeze with the inside leg for a nice canter depart.
    In order to think outside the box, one must first know what is in the box.


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  3. #3
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    I will try to make my aids even lighter. Might make for an interesting few days



  4. #4
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    The canter transition does come from the inside leg. The outside leg helps support the bend of the canter. If you suddenly drop your outside leg, that leaves your inside leg, without the support of your outside leg, which she interprets as a leg yield. In leg yield the outside leg guards the outside to maintain straightness, whether blocking a leading shoulder, or leading haunches.

    You never get to ride with only one leg.
    Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.



  5. #5
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    make sure your inside seatbone is doing it's job...arabians in particular are very particular and sensitive

    my mare did the same thing until I learned to control and use my inside seatbone in the transition.
    www.pinkhorseperformance.com
    Begin as you mean to continue.



  6. #6
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    Okay, so I guess I have been asking for canter incorrectly, and since I broke her and worked her all the way up that is where our confusion is coming from. Inside leg at girth, outside leg back slightly, Slightly more contact with outside rein. I guess I am confused on how just the inside leg at the girth is able to explain canter to her. What am I missing?



  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by rememberthenight View Post
    ..., and once we start to canter she wants to leg yield over. When I try to correct her to go straight she gets offended and flustered. I am sitting straight and stop asking for the canter with my outside leg back as soon as she transitions up. I know that without video it is hard to say, but has anyone run into this before? My next lesson is in two weeks and my trainer that i work occasionally isn't easily reachable.
    Sound to me your seat bone is asking her to "move over" as if you were asking for leg yield. And then your rein may be asking her to go "straight" while your seat bone is asking something else. And then she get confused and flustered.

    Carefully examine your seat aids at canter. At leg yield, your seat bone should have this feeling of taking her to "outside", while at canter, your seat bone should remain straight forward (no side way). Another possibility is you may be weighting too much either inside, or outside (both can cause this issue). If you are leaning way in, you may be pushing her side way; or if you are weighting too much on your outside, you may be asking her to move toward outside (hence a side way canter).



  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by rememberthenight View Post
    What am I missing?
    Your seat? Timing of the aid? Rein aids? It's the combination of all of the above, in conjunction with the leg aid, that make for a clean canter depart. Maybe more importantly though, the focus on lateral work might have been too much too soon if she's not at the correct stage of development. Ideally laterals should really be used to advance the scales of training, and not as an end in themselves. Straightness, rhythm and general confidence can regress if you're not careful. What other exercises are you working on with regard to her general development?
    Proud COTH lurker since 2001.



  9. #9
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    Since this is an Arabian you have been riding a long time, try THINKING canter.

    Works for me.


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  10. #10
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    We have been using the lateral work to help strengthen her hind end/back legs to help develop her extensions better. She is a slightly downhill crabbet arabian, so her collected work comes more naturally to her, but now we are trying to get her able to sit a bit more and open her shoulder. We have done a lot of serpentines, and circles. She feels very straight, she comes and stays onto the bit nicely, and is equally soft to bend on both sides. I am hoping to take her to an Ann Guptil clinic at the end of April, and feel we are close to being solidly first level if I can find our canter again. Of course I may be wrong, and misguided. I have not shown her in many years because of finances...



  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by rememberthenight View Post
    Okay, so I guess I have been asking for canter incorrectly, and since I broke her and worked her all the way up that is where our confusion is coming from. Inside leg at girth, outside leg back slightly, Slightly more contact with outside rein. I guess I am confused on how just the inside leg at the girth is able to explain canter to her. What am I missing?
    The only time I've ever used outside leg, outside rein to canter was for Saddleseat. It is the same concept as using the inside leg, just a different way of doing it. If you didn't teach her that cue, though, then she wouldn't know what it meant.

    Are you sure your leg is returning to a neutral position as soon as she starts cantering, or are you keeping it back as you canter? In which case, she is being a good girl and leg yielding.



  12. #12
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    Well, I came from Arab shows and saddleseat, so yes, I taught her the saddle seat cue I guess. I have done all the work with her, so I am all she knows. At many of the clinics I have done I was never corrected and my current instructor hasn't mentioned it either. I guess we will have to have a discussion about it.


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  13. #13
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    Outside leg goes back to help position YOUR seat. It frees up the inside seat bone/opens the inside hip so the horse can jump through with the inside hind. The inside hand does not hold. The outside hand doesn't either. Relax the inside so the horse can feel free to jump into the transition, and use the outside to watch the horse and make sure they do not jump outside when you add the inside leg on the transition. The horse should already be off the inside leg and into the outside hand.

    So, when your horse is very light off the aids, you just need to position yourself correctly and think "canter" with your your seat and back it up with your inside leg to encourage the hindleg in the jump in the first stride (if needed).

    With that description, how are you asking for lateral work from your horse? Often the differences become very subtle as the horse increases in its education. You need to be very clear, and very fair. If the horse makes a mistake, don't ask more strongly. Be very sure you are asking correctly, meaning check yourself first. If the horse gets it wrong, stop and go back to checking yourself and then asking the horse. You're going to have to retrain a few things a tad. If your seat has already been working correctly when asking for the transition, you might just need to stop thinking about using as much leg and instead think about the transition as lightly as possible. Overriding the aids can cause more confusion for the horse than under riding them and just not getting a response when you first want it.
    "Relinquish your whip!!"



  14. #14
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    Rememberthenight--"What am I missing?"

    You are probably missing the half halt, followed by the lifting of your hips into canter rhythm. It is that "lift off" of your hips supported by leg position that maintains the canter. Remember to ride every stride as an upward transition.
    Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.



  15. #15
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    Aug. 27, 2010
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    Also something very important that no one has mentioned, when you put your outside leg back make sure you are putting it back from your hip and not just your knee/leg. This helps give the horse a clear opening to allow the hindend to come thru and up into the canter correctly which is the same as it should be done on a circle. When tbis is done correctly you don't have to consciously put weight in the inside seatbone because this movement will automatically do tbis for you. You should scoop your inside seatbone forward when asking for the canter to help w the rhythm and upward transition into the canter.



  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kadenz View Post
    I was taught (and my horse was taught) to canter from the rider's inside leg, not the outside leg. My horse is at FEI, and if I use much outside leg at all for the canter depart, I get drastic haunches-in, or sideways, and he's usually flustered as all get-out about it. Because it's MY mis-communication, not his problem.

    Try simply using less outside leg in the canter depart. If you're using pressure on the outside leg, try not doing that, and using the inside leg only. If you're already only moving your leg back, but not using pressure, try moving your leg back less.

    In a perfect world, all the horse needs is for you to give a nice half-halt, weight your inside seatbone, and squeeze with the inside leg for a nice canter depart.

    For greener horses when asking for canter (from trot walk or halt) I move weight from outside seatbone to inside seat bone and think "up" to get a clean transition that doesn't confuse with lateral work... but as stated above - start educating horse to transition to canter from iside leg at girth - just use outside leg (slightly back) to BLOCK horse from doing a haunches out (inadvertantly).
    Sandy in Fla.



  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trixie's mom View Post
    make sure your inside seatbone is doing it's job...arabians in particular are very particular and sensitive

    my mare did the same thing until I learned to control and use my inside seatbone in the transition.
    The movement of outside leg back made my horse swing his haunches in (without any real pressure from the outside leg, just moving it back to set up) once he figured out how to do h/i. It was as if he was saying "see, see, I figured it out! I can do it!" Not something to punish, even if it was a different cue than haunches in! For his ability to understand me, I think the day I learned to ask for canter from my seat more than anything else was the best day of my horse's life.

    Quote Originally Posted by rememberthenight View Post
    We have been using the lateral work to help strengthen her hind end/back legs to help develop her extensions better. She is a slightly downhill crabbet arabian, so her collected work comes more naturally to her, but now we are trying to get her able to sit a bit more and open her shoulder. We have done a lot of serpentines, and circles. She feels very straight, she comes and stays onto the bit nicely, and is equally soft to bend on both sides. I am hoping to take her to an Ann Guptil clinic at the end of April, and feel we are close to being solidly first level if I can find our canter again. Of course I may be wrong, and misguided. I have not shown her in many years because of finances...
    I think you're missing something, alright, if you think there's not sitting involved in collection and if you think you need an "extension" in canter.
    My horse is a dressage diva so I don't have to be.

    Quote Originally Posted by katarine
    If you have a fat gay horse that likes Parelli, you're really screwed



  18. #18
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    What Netg said but that.

    Quote Originally Posted by netg View Post
    I think you're missing something, alright, if you think there's not sitting involved in collection and if you think you need an "extension" in canter.
    I think the OP was talking about getting better 'extensions' at the trot. (which would be lengthening for now) and for that, they are working on strengthening the horse's back and hind leg which is crucial.
    But I agree that the OP is confusing the working trot/frame/on the bit she should be aiming at and the term collected/collection that happen later in the work when the horse can sit more.

    Also OP, a good exercice for you would be to do the leg yielding but only a few steps at the time then go straight : 3 steps yielding, 5 steps straight, 3 steps yielding, 5 steps straight.

    Another one would be spiraling in and out.

    Both exercices at all gaits.



  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by alibi_18 View Post
    What Netg said but that.



    I think the OP was talking about getting better 'extensions' at the trot. (which would be lengthening for now) and for that, they are working on strengthening the horse's back and hind leg which is crucial.
    But I agree that the OP is confusing the working trot/frame/on the bit she should be aiming at and the term collected/collection that happen later in the work when the horse can sit more.

    Also OP, a good exercice for you would be to do the leg yielding but only a few steps at the time then go straight : 3 steps yielding, 5 steps straight, 3 steps yielding, 5 steps straight.

    Another one would be spiraling in and out.

    Both exercices at all gaits.
    Errrrrr... Yeah. If I saw what I typed before your post I'd go fix it. I think I had another train of thought I didn't follow mid-sentence or something! I did mean extended trot at first level, and have no idea why I typed what I did. I am not sure with the mis-use of terms whether this is a horse being asked to move correctly overall or not, so am confused even what the goals of the riding is, which was supposed to be my point.

    My horse is a naturally fairly big mover (for a TB, not by purpose bred standards) but does not naturally lengthen/extend well. It did definitely take a lot of lateral work to improve his overall balance before he could correctly lengthen. Spiraling in and out was a biggie, and agreed on only leg yielding a few steps at first. It helps your horse keep FORWARD, which is important. Not forward in speed of steps, but in energy and stepping up under herself.
    My horse is a dressage diva so I don't have to be.

    Quote Originally Posted by katarine
    If you have a fat gay horse that likes Parelli, you're really screwed



  20. #20
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    Maybe I'm missing something, but it sounds like the transition itself is okay - you ask for canter, she canters. Then she's trying to do some kind of lateral work within the canter, and when you try to correct she gets flustered.

    So what? Let her get a bit flustered. She's anticipating something that you aren't asking for. Horses that have a high people pleasing drive do tend to get flustered when they get something wrong, and get worse if they can't figure out what's right. As a rider you have to be quiet, tactful, but firm in riding these horses. Sometimes we ask too much and have to step back a bit, but it doesn't sound like that's needed here.

    I would suggest that you do lots of transitions to canter, and instead of correcting the lateral drift just focus on riding straight and forward (remembering that straight is simply shoulders and haunches on the same path, and forward isn't fast). Horses that worry about getting it wrong need to be told what to DO instead of what NOT to do. So instead of saying to her "No, don't go sideways" say instead "Go forward, on this path."

    Once she's relaxed about cantering again I would start adding in a few steps of lateral work within the canter to help her understand the idea of straightening again after lateral work. Which makes me ask - do you finish a bit of lateral work or just let her slide out of it? In leg yield this means deliberately using the outside aids to straighten the horse from the slight bend, and actively ride forward. In shoulder-in and haunches-in it means deliberately moving the shoulders back in front of the haunches and riding forward. If you find you just tend to stop asking for the lateral movement and allow her to straighten and go forward (when you reach the wall, or the corner are places where it's easy to allow the horse to come out of the lateral work on their own) then she isn't going to understand what you want when you try to stop the lateral movement in canter.


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