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Need help with a student

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  • #41
    Okay, so I know this is the dressage forum but...

    Do you have a horse whom she could safely pop over a very small jump? The horse can trot in and then canter out - so she is kind of forced to ride the canter, even if only for a couple stride. The horse will likely break back into a trot on it's own. Once she is comfortable with those few strides, ask her to keep the canter going for a couple strides, slowly increasing the distance.
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    • #42
      I have not read this long thread, so I might be repeating what someone else has said. If this person is so afraid as you suggest, she should forget about riding...or you should just be satisfied with her doing walk and trot until she initiates the canter on her own. If the fear has built in her mind to this degree, she is much more likely to get hurt. Until she can control that fear, her riding skills are on hold. Most people cannot unlearn fear to the degree needed, especially as they age and become more aware they are not invinsible.

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      • #43
        It sounds like your student has some version of post traumatic stress. It might not help her to try to solve the problem with traditional riding solutions. If she saw a therapist even once to discuss this specific problem, it would go a long way toward solving the problem.

        I had a similar issue after a bad fall when I was riding alone. It took seeing a therapist to help me see that I wasn't afraid of riding. I was afraid of riding alone. She helped me with some imagery techniques and it helped me enormously.

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        • Original Poster

          #44
          Originally posted by Preposterous Ponies! View Post
          Okay, so I know this is the dressage forum but...

          Do you have a horse whom she could safely pop over a very small jump? The horse can trot in and then canter out - so she is kind of forced to ride the canter, even if only for a couple stride. The horse will likely break back into a trot on it's own. Once she is comfortable with those few strides, ask her to keep the canter going for a couple strides, slowly increasing the distance.
          I do, but it would be the same horse she is fine cantering on I actually did try having her jump him once, but jumping is completely beyond her comfort level.

          She says she doesn't have a fear of riding, just of cantering, so is unwilling to try outside therapy/aids.

          We did have a good lesson earlier this week; she opted to not work on cantering, but instead work on riding her own horse. Started the ride with her on lease horse, and then me on her horse, and switched part way through. We practiced some halting straight using the end of the ring (on lease horse) which she was nervous to do...so I stayed on her inside with her horse so she didn't have a choice. I think realizing horsie was happy to stop before crashing into the wall was helpful. Sadly she won't be able to ride again until mid week, but we may just focus on her own horse rather than work on cantering.
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          • #45
            It sounds like she just lacks confidence that can handle or trust her lease horse at the canter, especially since she's not afraid to canter on your lesson horse. Do you feel that the lease horse would be trustworthy if she were to lose her balance at the canter? If that is the case, it might help for her to see someone at her own skill level canter her lease horse without any issues.
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            • #46
              Originally posted by CHT View Post
              Sadly she won't be able to ride again until mid week, but we may just focus on her own horse rather than work on cantering.

              Is there any chance that she could ride daily for a week - even better, during the time she has left? perhaps start her with a 30 min lesson each day, & then have her continue to ride in the ring while you teach another student (or ride your own horse etc) ...

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              • Original Poster

                #47
                She usually lessons twice a week, and occassionally rides once a week outside of lessons, but she is often out of town or bogged down with work and so the schedule is disrupted.

                How much she rides is beyond my control and often beyond hers.
                Freeing worms from cans everywhere!

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                • #48
                  When I got my gelding I had only cantered a few times and considering my boy is 17.2 I was nervous that I wouldn't be able to find balance and fall the, very, long way to the ground. One day he made the decision for me and moved so flawlessly into a canter that I didn't realized that we were. I didn't realize it at the time but I asked him to because I trusted that he would take care of me. She will canter on your lesson horse because she trusts that he will take care of her. Sometimes even though there is a mental block having trust in the partnership is bigger than the block. Perhaps she just needs to back up with her lease mare and take more time with her, she obviously knows she can but with her lease she just doesn't trust that everything will work out. Letting her know that the pressure she thinks is there isn't can make all the difference, tell her to take time on the ground with her mare, walk and trot as much as she wants and slowly build up to it. If i found out anything its that once you canter its damned near impossible not to want to do it again
                  I'm not a trainer but I understand the fear. If all else fails, spots psychologists are a great tool.

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                  • #49
                    Originally posted by CHT View Post
                    She usually lessons twice a week, and occassionally rides once a week outside of lessons, but she is often out of town or bogged down with work and so the schedule is disrupted.
                    Given the above picture, then she needs to reassess her goals as stated in the original post

                    She feels she needs to be cantering lease horse within 3 weeks as then she goes away and back to her other barn for a few months (she only lives her a few months a year), and wants to be cantering confidently before then...I think this pressure she is putting on herself isn't helping.

                    It sounds as if she's trying to break through a barrier of years but not willing to change any of the parametres, encourage her to book herself some holiday time where she can just focus on her horsemanship every day (though if fitness is an issue, she'll want to get that sorted first ).

                    As others have mentioned, she may find it easier to fit a sports psychologists into her schedule

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                    • #50
                      This is going to be an oddball idea, but it might not hurt to mention, even if it's a bit unrealistic in your situation. My husband had this same issue when he started riding. He was doing great and coming right along and then wham! he had a fall and it shook his confidence terribly. He wasn't hurt badly, but he realized how easily he came off and how bad even a non-traumatic fall could be (he was badly bruised and in pain for weeks). After that, he was terrified of cantering. He had a very reliable horse that took good care of him, but his trust in the horse was shaken, too. I tried several times to talk him through a few canter strides. He'd get the horse to canter, tense up and haul on the brakes and his horse would stop and that was that. I finally talked him into going to work with a western rider/trainer and the problem was well on it's way to be solved in one session.

                      He put a couple of cows into the ring and had my husband 'play' at chasing them around. It took a little bit of time for the horse to get accustomed to the cows, but once the horse caught on, he was game for chasing those cows around a little. I'm not sure why this worked, but the cowboy said it works like a charm and he was right. Once my husband started focusing on staying on a cow's tail, his horse was walking, trotting, and cantering all over the ring and my husband barely even realized it. He was just focusing on the cow, and that busied his mind. He had so much fun he wanted to do it the next day. It took a lot of pressure off of him to focus his mind on a task and not think about cantering specifically. He just needed to keep up with that cow.

                      I don't know if that situation is at all feasible for you to put together, but if not, perhaps the idea behind it is. Instead of focusing on cantering, focus on some other goal and if cantering happens then it does, if it doesn't that's ok too. The main thing is to complete the task. It could be even following another horse and rider. Maybe it could even be a relay race (a tame one) or "game" with other riders...something to take the pressure off and give her mind something else to focus on.

                      Just an idea...if a crazy one!

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                      • Original Poster

                        #51
                        baysandgrays, that is a cool idea! I don't think that would work here, but I was wondering if getting her on a western horse might help...loping can't be scary, and it is moer or less a canter! Now I just need to find a western horse to borrow...
                        Freeing worms from cans everywhere!

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                        • #52
                          finding a job is a great idea! can you figure out a "job" for your student to do, without the cows? Like, focus on an object across the ring and go as fast as she can to it. Stop there, and find another object across the ring to "chase." Even if it doesn't turn into cantering, it'll be a fun throwback to "playing like a kid" that'll get her mind off of "oh-so-serious riding" -- a good thing for anybody. :-)

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                          • #53
                            I also was afraid to canter at first. My first time cantering was landing after a cross rail, and it felt so smooth and easy, I wondered what I was so worried about. Forward a few years, and I leased a horse with no sense of humor who bucked me off at the canter, and under a concrete bridge. I was afraid to canter for a few years after that. It sort of comes and goes, but the best advice I could give you is to say, f@#% it, let's just do what you're comfortable with and forget cantering. Then I would have her work on sitting trot and transitions from trot to walk on a circle, like trot half way, walk 1/4, trot 3/4, walk 1/4. These transitions really strengthen the rider's position, and give a real feeling of control. Then let her decide if and when she wants to canter.

                            I had one unforgettable group lesson once. It was early on a Saturday morning, when it was 40 degrees and gusty winds. I was so cold and afraid of riding in the wind, that I tried twice to tell my trainer I was canceling, but she just ignored me. There were two of us in the lesson. She decided to have us ride a pas de deux. She put us on a circle and we had to stay exactly opposite each other. We had to canter figure eights and meet exactly in the center, things like that. It was really hard and there was no room for fearful thoughts because we had to concentrate. It was one of the most fun lessons I have ever had. So if you do teach her mounted, maybe you could adapt some of that as a strategy.
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                            • #54
                              Originally posted by alto View Post
                              Given the above picture, then she needs to reassess her goals as stated in the original post

                              She feels she needs to be cantering lease horse within 3 weeks as then she goes away and back to her other barn for a few months (she only lives her a few months a year), and wants to be cantering confidently before then...I think this pressure she is putting on herself isn't helping.

                              It sounds as if she's trying to break through a barrier of years but not willing to change any of the parametres, encourage her to book herself some holiday time where she can just focus on her horsemanship every day (though if fitness is an issue, she'll want to get that sorted first ).

                              As others have mentioned, she may find it easier to fit a sports psychologists into her schedule
                              I'm also afraid to canter and didn't realize that I had so much company. It doesn't help that Sophie has a ginormous rocket powered or at least Irish Draught rear end powered canter

                              The deadline she is putting up is not helping. Some people see goals as obstacles to overcome and some see them as barriers. Do you know why she is putting this pressure on herself? Can you break the goal into smaller parts?

                              I still can't canter down the long side but can manage to canter going into the short side. Unfortunately Sophie knows now "This is where we canter"
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                              • #55
                                Originally posted by Bristol Bay View Post
                                I also was afraid to canter at first. My first time cantering was landing after a cross rail, and it felt so smooth and easy, I wondered what I was so worried about.

                                I absolutely LOVE this trick.
                                If (big if) you have a horse that jumps totally quiet and honest, this is absolutely perfect.

                                I use the "crossrail depart" on green horses and green riders alike because the canter you get after a little jump is way better and more organized than the one you get after a poorly performed (either because the horse is green or the rider can't quite get organized just yet) transition.
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                                • #56
                                  I would put her on the longeline on the horse in question with no reins but encourage her to use a grab strap and do a lot of that ad nauseum until she is totally ho hum about cantering- before asking her to let go of grab strap -and then progress to the old standard upper body exercises on the lunge.

                                  Otherwise, no cantering off the longe for now.

                                  I watched a lesson once with someone who announced at beginning of clinic lesson that she was afraid to trot!. The clinician did the whole lesson in walk and at the end the rider was practiaclly begging to trot. But no, no trotting. Sometimes the rider must find their own motivation instead of relying on someone else to 'make' them do it.

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                                  • #57
                                    I've been in this boat, too. I'm a neurotic mess with the canter on my current horse. Although I had no problem cantering on my previous horse, who had very little jump, my current young mare is big and somewhat unbalanced and has a lot of jump in the canter. I also made the mistake of watching some better riders than me ride her canter and it looked difficult. In addition, all my falls have been at the canter and a good friend of mine broke her arm while falling off at the canter. Luckily, my poor coach has been patient with me.

                                    For me, my fears are exacerbated when am cantering her in a smaller space where I might have steering issues. She also is very sensitive to my ambivalance and I can't be clamping on with my legs, too strong with the reins or even pulling back on the breastplate.

                                    I succeeded finally this summer in the 20 x 60 dressage arena. I ask in the corner and get her cantering down the long side, which is easier. I keep the reins loose and use a neckstrap but I have to be careful not to pull back on it but instead move my hands foreward..

                                    Another of my issues was (after watching good riders ride her) wondering if I could stay on that big canter. At the suggestion of a clinician, I spent a lot of time this summer going forward and back in the trot so we were really going fast and forward with big steps. That helped a lot to make me realize that I could sit her canter.

                                    So there were a lot of pieces to this particular puzzle and I am finally putting them together.

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                                    • #58
                                      Originally posted by Crockpot View Post
                                      I would put her on the longeline on the horse in question with no reins but encourage her to use a grab strap and do a lot of that ad nauseum until she is totally ho hum about cantering- before asking her to let go of grab strap -and then progress to the old standard upper body exercises on the lunge.
                                      You are not alone in recommending longeline lessons for this rider, but I am going to disagree with this strategy.

                                      Holding on to a grab strap while someone else makes your horse canter gives the rider zero feeling of control and a stiff seat. I have had a ton of longeline lessons and they are good for no stirrups strengthening work, but this rider's issue is not strength, but control. She needs to feel she is in control of the horse's every step. A quick way to see her eat dirt is to put a tense person on a small circle and take away her brakes.

                                      When she feels she can do a downward transition on a dime, over and over, she will know that she is in control of the canter.
                                      A helmet saved my life.

                                      2017 goal: learn to ride like TheHorseProblem, er, a barn rat!

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                                      • #59
                                        Holding on to a grab strap while someone else makes your horse canter gives the rider zero feeling of control and a stiff seat. I have had a ton of longeline lessons and they are good for no stirrups strengthening work, but this rider's issue is not strength, but control. She needs to feel she is in control of the horse's every step. A quick way to see her eat dirt is to put a tense person on a small circle and take away her brakes.

                                        When she feels she can do a downward transition on a dime, over and over, she will know that she is in control of the canter



                                        Yes we'll have to disagree. I have seen this work many times for tense riders . They stop worrying and can concentrate on relaxing through the body and start to enjoy cantering. Then you can start with the upper body handsfree exercises. Basic Pony Club beginner fun stuff. :-)

                                        Realizing you can stick like velcro without clamping on with your legs and taking a deathgrip on the reins is confidence building.The grab strap is only there as a temporary safety for the rider until she feels she can let go and start riding.

                                        She will be on her way way she realizes she can ride and enjoy the canter without fear rather than always worrying about absolute control and stopping. JMHO.

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                                        • #60
                                          But... the issue I have with longelining is that the rider is dealing with centrifugal force, pulling her/him to the outside. One of my earliest memories of a riding lesson was being on the longe & falling off thanks to the laws of physics & my inability to conquer them (I was 7 or 8 at the time, but even now, nearing 50 , I am not delighted at the thought of being longed!)

                                          I'd much rather have the student canter on the longside of the ring, for however few or many steps are within her/his comfort level.

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