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Does anyone know how to teach a standardbred how to canter?

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  • Does anyone know how to teach a standardbred how to canter?

    We have a rescued standardbred who raced as a pacer for 74 races. He is amazing at the trot, and an amazing jumper. If he cantered he would surely be an upper level horse because he trots prelim tables, intermediate brush Skinnys, keyholes, big drops into the water, ect and jumps 5 foot oxers and verticals with ease. I'll attempt to attach pictures of him, with my friend in the tack, and just please let me know if you have any ideas! Thanks

  • #2
    If I'm reading this right you are trotting prelim fences? That doesn't seem like a great idea.

    Regardless - even after jumping 5' fences he lands in a trot? Or is it that he doesn't keep the canter? And he trots, even though he raced as a pacer?

    Have you tried using poles and cavaletti to encourage a canter stride? Basically set up a series of bounces and in and outs and encourage him to keep one stride of canter between jumps, then two?
    life + horses
    beljoeor.blogspot.com

    Comment


    • #3
      I've known quite a few Standarbred racehorses that were retrained as riding horses. They seemed to accept it easily and all cantered. Sounds like he doesn't really see the need to canter from what he can do at the trot.
      Lilykoi


      Hell hath no fury like the chestnut thoroughbred mare

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      • #4
        I've never had this issue, but a random idea would be to find a track or large enclosed area somewhere and pony him off a horse with a good gallop. Go as fast as you have to make him break into canter then praise mightily. Repeat.

        Once he figures out that whenever he's near that horse he should canter, ride him next to the other horse, and always praise the canter. Then begin to diverge from the other horse (in canter) maybe doing big circles whatever. Once you feel it's established, try it without the other horse.

        He certainly sounds talented!
        They don't call me frugal for nothing.
        Proud and achy member of the Eventing Grannies clique.

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        • Original Poster

          #5
          Originally posted by kerlin View Post
          If I'm reading this right you are trotting prelim fences? That doesn't seem like a great idea.

          Regardless - even after jumping 5' fences he lands in a trot? Or is it that he doesn't keep the canter? And he trots, even though he raced as a pacer?


          Have you tried using poles and cavaletti to encourage a canter stride? Basically set up a series of bounces and in and outs and encourage him to keep one stride of canter between jumps, then two?
          Yes and it's not my horse it's my friends horse who she rides, he trots beautifully and jumps gorgeous, he does canter over/after the jumps and through canter poles and bounces and gets normal distances, ect and no it's not a bad idea that he jumps big fences, pm me if you wanna see, and it's not me riding him, it's not my horse she just asked me to see if a no one has ideas. He just needs to canter enough to get through a dressage test. Even my coach, buck Davidson, has seen this horse trotting massive fences and loved him. But even then he had me sit on it to try and make it canter and it wasn't pretty(cross galloping) but thanks anyways

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          • Original Poster

            #6
            Originally posted by frugalannie View Post
            I've never had this issue, but a random idea would be to find a track or large enclosed area somewhere and pony him off a horse with a good gallop. Go as fast as you have to make him break into canter then praise mightily. Repeat.

            Once he figures out that whenever he's near that horse he should canter, ride him next to the other horse, and always praise the canter. Then begin to diverge from the other horse (in canter) maybe doing big circles whatever. Once you feel it's established, try it without the other horse.

            He certainly sounds talented!
            Thanks

            Comment


            • #7
              It takes a while to get them strong enough to hold the canter. The easiest thing it to get the canter over a small jump and hold it. So for a while, all your transitions to canter start with a jump. Then get it to just a pole on the ground....then to a normal transition. The cue to canter needs to be give over the fence (perhaps also verbal) and be VERY clear. It is NOT a speed thing. It is just getting him to understand the cues....and then getting him strong enough to hold it.

              Standardbreds can be very good jumpers. There was a time when it wasn't unusual to find them in GP jumper classes. They usually were stronger over the more verticle fence but could struggle with the width. But I've known several (OTT and crosses) who were good event horses.
              ** Tact is the ability to tell someone to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip. ~Winston Churchill? **

              Comment


              • #8
                I actually specialize in retraining standardbreds as riding horses. I would be happy to get into more detail with you via PM, but here's the gist:
                Standardbreds at the track are taught to trot/pace with their heads up and out. They use head poles and overchecks to keep them bent out with their heads up, which allows them to swing their shoulders wide in the turns to prevent making a break. To train them to 'break' into the canter, you must reverse that mentality. If you break the link between racing and riding, you'll have great success. To do this, go back to your basic dressage. Work on getting the horse soft laterally and vertically. If you get your horse to work properly in a frame, bending the correct way, when you ask for speed, he'll do the natural thing and canter. The fact that he's a pacer who trots for you is a good sign that you're probably off to a good start.

                It's tempting to just chase a horse into a canter the first few times, but as you've experienced, that doesn't really work with a lot of standies because they just trot bigger and faster. Collection will be the fastest way to establish a canter transition, but once you get him into the canter, it's ok to let him canter on a loose rein and make a big deal about him so he knows he found the right answer.

                Additionally, your horse has not only been taught not to canter, but has built up trotting/pacing muscles. He may not have the proper muscles to hold a canter for more than a few strides. To help with this, you may want to lunge him in side reins to build those muscles back up.

                Trot poles, cavaletti, etc. MAY work to get him to pick up a canter, but many standardbreds will break right back into the trot as soon as they're past the poles. I don't know where you're located, but I offer lessons and training in NJ and would be happy to help if you're local at all

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by harnessphoto View Post
                  .

                  It's tempting to just chase a horse into a canter the first few times, but as you've experienced, that doesn't really work with a lot of standies because they just trot bigger and faster. Collection will be the fastest way to establish a canter transition, but once you get him into the canter, it's ok to let him canter on a loose rein and make a big deal about him so he knows he found the right answer.

                  Additionally, your horse has not only been taught not to canter, but has built up trotting/pacing muscles. He may not have the proper muscles to hold a canter for more than a few strides. To help with this, you may want to lunge him in side reins to build those muscles back up.

                  Trot poles, cavaletti, etc. MAY work to get him to pick up a canter, but many standardbreds will break right back into the trot as soon as they're past the poles. I don't know where you're located, but I offer lessons and training in NJ and would be happy to help if you're local at all
                  I do really agree with this. Really going back first to the basic dressage at the walk and trot...not too worry about the canter so much until those gaits are well established...then often the canter will come more easily. But it can be hard for people to have the patience to spend the time that they should for this.

                  Since people often really want to canter...I find the little jump better than someone chasing them into the canter which really doesn't work.
                  ** Tact is the ability to tell someone to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip. ~Winston Churchill? **

                  Comment

                  • Original Poster

                    #10
                    Originally posted by bornfreenowexpensive View Post
                    I do really agree with this. Really going back first to the basic dressage at the walk and trot...not too worry about the canter so much until those gaits are well established...then often the canter will come more easily. But it can be hard for people to have the patience to spend the time that they should for this.

                    Since people often really want to canter...I find the little jump better than someone chasing them into the canter which really doesn't work.
                    Thanks

                    Comment

                    • Original Poster

                      #11
                      Originally posted by harnessphoto View Post
                      I actually specialize in retraining standardbreds as riding horses. I would be happy to get into more detail with you via PM, but here's the gist:
                      Standardbreds at the track are taught to trot/pace with their heads up and out. They use head poles and overchecks to keep them bent out with their heads up, which allows them to swing their shoulders wide in the turns to prevent making a break. To train them to 'break' into the canter, you must reverse that mentality. If you break the link between racing and riding, you'll have great success. To do this, go back to your basic dressage. Work on getting the horse soft laterally and vertically. If you get your horse to work properly in a frame, bending the correct way, when you ask for speed, he'll do the natural thing and canter. The fact that he's a pacer who trots for you is a good sign that you're probably off to a good start.

                      It's tempting to just chase a horse into a canter the first few times, but as you've experienced, that doesn't really work with a lot of standies because they just trot bigger and faster. Collection will be the fastest way to establish a canter transition, but once you get him into the canter, it's ok to let him canter on a loose rein and make a big deal about him so he knows he found the right answer.

                      Additionally, your horse has not only been taught not to canter, but has built up trotting/pacing muscles. He may not have the proper muscles to hold a canter for more than a few strides. To help with this, you may want to lunge him in side reins to build those muscles back up.

                      Trot poles, cavaletti, etc. MAY work to get him to pick up a canter, but many standardbreds will break right back into the trot as soon as they're past the poles. I don't know where you're located, but I offer lessons and training in NJ and would be happy to help if you're local at all
                      We are in NJ(: pm me and I'll call you! It's my friends horse and I'm sure she would want a lesson, if it will help his development of the canter! Thanks

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by bornfreenowexpensive View Post
                        But it can be hard for people to have the patience to spend the time that they should for this.

                        Since people often really want to canter...I find the little jump better than someone chasing them into the canter which really doesn't work.
                        A little jump can help, absolutely. It's a good way to get the canter, but it won't help you hold it. As for not having the patience... well... that's an important part of riding and training. Taking the time to do it correctly now will save lots of time down the line

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by kerlin View Post
                          If I'm reading this right you are trotting prelim fences? That doesn't seem like a great idea.

                          What? 3'6'' from a trot is not a great idea? Trotting fences is actually a good exercise. 3'6'' is not very big. I would not be too concerned by this fact.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I rode a standardbred for a couple years and really helped build up the canter, but for me it was mostly collecting for the canter depart, and then stay out of her way. Unfortunately this particular horse had soundness issues that made it hard to keep her working enough to gain muscle and stay sound.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by noellemb12 View Post
                              it was mostly collecting for the canter depart, and then stay out of her way.
                              Yes. This is a great place to start. Develop a really nice trot, collect that trot to support the horse through the canter depart, and then let the horse canter around and build the muscle it needs to continue developing the canter.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by Irishodyssey View Post
                                He just needs to canter enough to get through a dressage test. Even my coach, buck Davidson, has seen this horse trotting massive fences and loved him. But even then he had me sit on it to try and make it canter and it wasn't pretty(cross galloping) but thanks anyways
                                So what did Buck recommend?

                                There are a few responses on here that have offered good ideas (ie go back to the building blocks of dressage, ect) but really having someone so talented on the ground watching the horse go, surely he has some insight...

                                Also, if your friend is interested in taking this horse upper level, she might want to sit back and re-evaluate her sentiments regarding dressage since it is a fundamental necessity to competing at any level (and much more so as you move up the levels) and not something just to "get through." Dressage is the foundation for everything we do, it is certainly more important that just an exercise before the jumping.

                                Comment

                                • Original Poster

                                  #17
                                  Yes, I totally agree about the dressage part! I'm 15 and going intermediate! She is less experienced but has worked extremely hard on the flat with him! He's through in the contact and practicing leg yields, shoulders in, ect! He just doesn't want to canter! She doesn't care what she scored, she just wants to get enough of a canter to keep from being eliminated! Buck fell into the common opinion that Standies will never have a good canter no matter how talented they are over the fences! But I wish to challenge that!

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by snoopy View Post
                                    What? 3'6'' from a trot is not a great idea? Trotting fences is actually a good exercise. 3'6'' is not very big. I would not be too concerned by this fact.
                                    3'6" stadium fences as a controlled exercise? Yes.

                                    Prelim tables as a regular way of going XC? Not such a fan.
                                    life + horses
                                    beljoeor.blogspot.com

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      He sounds cool! Wish you could attach pics.
                                      I don't think trotting big fences is bad, I had a trainer who used to make me walk a 3 foot fence.

                                      Comment

                                      • Original Poster

                                        #20
                                        Originally posted by kerlin View Post
                                        3'6" stadium fences as a controlled exercise? Yes.

                                        Prelim tables as a regular way of going XC? Not such a fan.
                                        I don't disagree with that opinion, but as I said not my horse, not my ride, just a friends horse who asked me to post this. And he doesn't do prelim tables everyday, he's been xc maybe three times and yes, he jumped some big xc fences, not dangerously or with no pace, out of a large trot! If you have a problem with that then I don't know what to tell you, surely your opinion would change if you saw this animal in person

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