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Crooked in canter...

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  • Crooked in canter...

    I have a young horse that likes to get crooked, and swing his haunches to the right. He then falls onto his left shoulder. We have been working on this in the walk and the trot by using some shoulder- fore, legyields and baby renvers/travers. Basically just getting him obedient to positioning aids to enable me to keep his shoulders in front of his haunches and keep him straight.
    This works great in the walk and the trot, my problem is with the canter... To the left he likes to swing his haunches out, by using my outside leg I can keep him straight, no problem. He listens well. But to the right, he swings his haunches IN, and there is my problem.

    I try to keep him in a shoulderfore/renvers position with no bend (so basically a legyield on the rail). Problem is that he tries to fall to the inside. If I use my inside leg on the girth, he will stay on the rail but swing his haunches in. If I move my leg back, he will do a flying change and/or buck. So I'm thinking he needs to be more obedient to my outside rein, but feeling a little lost... We do take lessons, and I will bring this up next time too, just wanting to see what you guys think? How would you keep him straight?

    Right now I am just picking up the canter from a shoulder-in, and go back to the trot right before he gets crooked...

  • #2
    Lack of strength and balance. He doesn't need to be more obedient, he needs to be built up more slowly!!! Focus on developing pushing power in the hind leg - poles, x-rails, hills, lots of trotting and lateral work as he can perform it. Be prepared for this to take months++! Then you can start progressively developing carrying power (ie, collection) and work your way gradually up the training scale (use progressive exercises and patterns to increasingly engage your horse and have him use himself more and more effectively)... straightness will come with progression up the training scale.

    How young is this horse and how long has he been u/s? He doesn't sound at ALL like he's got sufficient strength for exercises such as 'canter leg yields' along the rail. Back off and work on lots of strengthening work at the trot - forward forward forward. For the canter specifically, it will straighten as he gains strength and balance. For the most part, let it alone for now, ie, don't focus on it and don't micro-manage his strides in the canter.
    ....horses should be trained in such a way that they not only love their riders, but look forward to the time they are with them.
    ~ Xenophon, 350 B.C.

    Comment


    • #3
      I agree with naturaleqqus. I would continue to work on shoulder fore in trot, without overdoing it, and combine this with lots of long slow hill work. Focus on strength, and keeping both his mind and body happy and sound.
      Proud COTH lurker since 2001.

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      • #4
        Be careful that you are not putting too much weight in your right seatbone. That can cause the problems you describe in the canter.
        Donald Trump - proven liar, cheat, traitor and sexual predator! Hillary Clinton won in 2016, but we have all lost.

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        • #5
          Lateral work is best for straightening.
          Groom to trainer: "Where's the glamour? You promised me glamour!"

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          • #6
            Crookedness

            With all problems, we must always ask ourselves whether our horse doesn’t understand or simply can not. Without seeing the horse, I must advise to rule out any physical issues with your vet. If you have ruled out physical problems, it is only a matter of making sure he understands what it is that you want. I must point out that from what I understand, all you are trying to do is have a basic degree of straightness. This is an implied pre-requisite to the third step in the training scale (contact/connection). As per the training scale, true straightening comes later on.

            When it comes to your aids, here in Germany, it is said that your aids must be consequent meaning that as his rider/trainer, you must make sure your aids are clear and that you don’t allow alternatives. The Dutch like to refer to this process as the question and answer game, meaning there is only one answer to the question/demand you make. Every horse is naturally crooked and has what’s called it’s ‘Stiff’ and ‘Hollow side’. In other words, all horses have a weaker hind leg and will try to evade difficult work, the natural inclination.

            Like your horse, 90% of horses fall into the category where, to the right, they travel in travers with the shoulders positioned towards the outside. This same pattern of crookedness causes the outside hindleg to trail outwards on the left rein. Therefore, in 90% of cases, the official correction is shoulder-fore to the right and riding ‘In position’ to the left (In position is the idea of shoulder-fore and slight travers, bringing the inside hind leg forward and causing the outside hind to come closer towards the inside hind leg.) Hence the expression ‘when you have the outside hind leg only then can you have the inside hind leg).

            I must point out that there is a fine line between work that is too difficult and work that is difficult enough/consequent (building strength, increasing suppleness and getting rid of the natural one-sidedness).

            Now back to your particular case, I would suggest contemplating and dissecting your weight aids. As you know, you must always weight the inside seat bone (without faults such as collapsing etc.). However, sitting to the inside correctly can mean one of many variations. This differs in each movement and also depends on the natural crookedness of the horse. Although it is ideal in a straight horse to keep your inside seat bone forward, doing so with this horse to the right will only reinforce travers. Since this horse may swap leads etc. if you bring your inside leg back, try bringing your weight back and to the inside (inside seat bone back). If you imagine sitting on a clock, you would sit at 5:00. In other words, really putting your weight on top of the inside hind leg, the carrying hind leg. This is more if less the same place you would sit to leg yield to the left. Shoulder-fore will be your ultimate goal but to make sure your aids are consequent, you can go in and out of shoulder-in on the long side, assuring that your horse will understand that you can displace the shoulders without displacing the hind legs – shoulder control!

            If you are having difficulty with explaining this weight aid, think about how you ride corners, how you spiral-out and leg yielding to the left. Riding turn on the fore-hand with the goal of making your horse sensitive to the weight aids (not just leg) will work efficiently. Also, you may want to employ a long whip in order to help explain the parameters of where his legs can and can not go. Looking up and using your inside seat bone will help keep the right lead while you displace the shoulders as you please. Good luck and have fun!

            Dave Thind, Certified German 'Trainer A', F.N.
            Certified German 'Trainer A' F.N. (Master Level)
            www.davethind.com

            Comment


            • #7
              Gee, I think Dave has it covered! All I was going to say is shoulder-fore. Thankfully for you, Dave told you what to do and how to do it so you weren't stuck with my crappy and lacking explanation. Dave should come by more than once a year.

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              • #8
                shoulder-fore and Forward forward forward!

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Dave Thind View Post
                  With all problems, we must always ask ourselves whether our horse doesn’t understand or simply can not. Without seeing the horse, I must advise to rule out any physical issues with your vet. If you have ruled out physical problems, it is only a matter of making sure he understands what it is that you want. I must point out that from what I understand, all you are trying to do is have a basic degree of straightness. This is an implied pre-requisite to the third step in the training scale (contact/connection). As per the training scale, true straightening comes later on.


                  Dave Thind, Certified German 'Trainer A', F.N.
                  Great post by David. I would absolutely agree that you should make sure there is no physical problem. A general rule of thumb, is that a dressage horse who is sore behind, will bring his haunches away from the sore side (If swinging haunches to L it suggests the R hind may be sore. A jumper will jump towards the sore side as the sound leg pushes of the ground with more force.)

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                  • #10
                    Are you certain you are sitting straight?
                    Life is too short to argue with a mare! Just don't engage! It is much easier that way!

                    Have fun, be safe, and let the mare think it is her idea!

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                    • Original Poster

                      #11
                      Wow, thanks for all the replies!

                      @naturalequus: I have to disagree... This is an almost 5yo that has shown 1st level, I can't just let him plonk around the rail in an unasked for haunches in/ shoulder popped out while I know he is perfectly capable of cantering straight on a trailride.

                      @Dave: What a great post, thank you! That is very helpful! Yes, all I am looking for is basic sraightness, i.e. cantering down the longside in a fairly straight line without him looking like a pretzel
                      He has been checked out by a vet, and it isn't physical. He is perfectly capable of cantering straight any other time. I think it is something he has learned from a rider. It's just something he needs to relearn. I think you hit the nail on the head, he does not understand to shift his shoulders.
                      Some great suggestions, that I will try rightaway tomorrow, will report back how it went.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        It's not always a physical issue...it's also strengthening issue. Consider the stiff and hollow side when you are doing SI/HI and Renvers (should this be introduced after the SI/HI are going well which is why it's a second level move??) I say this because renvers improved my canter, counter canter impoved my true canter even more...however my horse is 6 and I could not have done the renver until this year, he was not ready (he is a big late bloomer)
                        Humans don’t mind duress, in fact they thrive on it. What they mind is not feeling necessary. –Sebastian Junger

                        Comment

                        • Original Poster

                          #13
                          Bogey, I'm not doing true renvers/travers/shoulder-ins, just using the term to try and explain more clearly the positioning of the horse! I agree he would need to be stronger to be schooling 2nd level, but what I am after is basic straightness, as required in say Training level canter. Which I think is not too much to ask from an almost 5yo schooling 1st level, right?

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Not a lot to add...lots of lateral work help strengthen.

                            Eventually, counter canter is going to help a TON in straightening out the true canter....eventually.

                            Love Dave's post, too...

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              honestly Libera? My canter at Training Level was not all that "straight"...even at First we had a little crookedness, I did not sweat it because I knew it was coming along. My horse is extremely supple so it's work to keep it all together, not until I started the SI/HI did it start to pull together better.
                              Humans don’t mind duress, in fact they thrive on it. What they mind is not feeling necessary. –Sebastian Junger

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