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Improving canter on young horse?

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  • Improving canter on young horse?

    I have a rising 4yo Warmblood/Welsh hony (currently 15.1) that has been under saddle for about 10 weeks. He's making tremendous progress but is a bit stuck in learning to canter. He trots nicely in balance, is learning to stretch down, leg yields well, and mostly steers OK.

    When I ask him to canter, he takes a few strides that feel OK, then he swings his haunches in. As soon as I fix the haunches in, he hollows severely and breaks to the trot. No obvious discomfort, he doesn't swish his tail or fling his head, he just says I can't keep going forward. He doesn't appear butt high. He does ride out and we walk/trot up a long but not aggressive hill about 2x per week. He's ridden about 5x per week because ​​if he has more than two days off in a row he gets quite spicy under saddle the first day back.

    He's been checked by a vet and her only recommendation was to try a course of Robaxin to counter any body soreness that might be present just because he had no base of fitness to begin with. He's been on Robaxin for a week and I've seen no noticeable change.

    Any ideas for specific exercises appropriate for his level of training? Or do I just wait it out?

    The second video in this link has a bit of canter that demonstrates what I mean. He's barefoot and the footing in this ring was harder than he's used to and not particularly to his liking.

    ​​​​https://m.facebook.com/story.php?sto...&id=1494030110

    "Can you imagine what I would do if I could do all I can?" Sun Tzu
    Semantics

  • #2
    I'll defer to the many experienced posters to give you advice on the canter, but I just want to say, he is absolutely darling.

    Comment

    • Original Poster

      #3
      Originally posted by HLMom View Post
      I'll defer to the many experienced posters to give you advice on the canter, but I just want to say, he is absolutely darling.
      Aw thanks! I bought him as a 2yo when I needed a 2yo like I needed another hole in my head but he was so darn adorable! 😍
      "Can you imagine what I would do if I could do all I can?" Sun Tzu
      Semantics

      Comment


      • #4
        Your asking (really just expecting) too much for the stage he is in. Right now....install forward. Don’t quite yet worry about his haunches. He’s not strong enough to go straight and hold the canter (he’s telling you that by breaking). You absolutely will start correcting it soon.....but right now....teach GO. He needs to learn to be in front of your leg first. So lots of transitions and just going on. Then, work on just bringing his haunches back straight for just a stride or two, he is telling you he cannot hold any more than that. The hill work will help, keep him straight going up and down at the walk. Keep working on the straightness at the trot. Then for the canter work....just ask him to hold it only for a few strides then do a transition.

        But honestly...with most of my 4 year olds....I get them out of the ring as much as possible. They are still growing and need time to get stronger. Walking out a lot is good for their bodies and minds! Lots of fun field trips are good for them too.
        ** Tact is the ability to tell someone to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip. ~Winston Churchill? **

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        • #5
          Yes, more GO! You need some impulsion to get strength and strength to get straight.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by bornfreenowexpensive View Post
            Your asking (really just expecting) too much for the stage he is in. Right now....install forward. Don’t quite yet worry about his haunches. He’s not strong enough to go straight and hold the canter (he’s telling you that by breaking). You absolutely will start correcting it soon.....but right now....teach GO. He needs to learn to be in front of your leg first. So lots of transitions and just going on. Then, work on just bringing his haunches back straight for just a stride or two, he is telling you he cannot hold any more than that. The hill work will help, keep him straight going up and down at the walk. Keep working on the straightness at the trot. Then for the canter work....just ask him to hold it only for a few strides then do a transition.

            But honestly...with most of my 4 year olds....I get them out of the ring as much as possible. They are still growing and need time to get stronger. Walking out a lot is good for their bodies and minds! Lots of fun field trips are good for them too.
            Agreed on all counts here - listen to the hony. I would not be feeling pressure to canter at this juncture and if I did canter it would be a flat, grassy area, let the added natural impulsion of the great outdoors help you out. Main goals should be forward when I apply leg and try to be reasonably straight for 4-6 strides at a time. If that's too much than he's not ready and needs more time to figure out balance and coordination at the walk & trot.

            May also need front shoes, especially if the footing is not ideal. It's a simple fix and I wouldn't want to hinder my young horse's training with bad associations this early in the game.

            Also, he's totally adorable

            Comment


            • #7
              I agree that he just needs to GO! I don't care about leads or any of the details when they're still really young. But when I tell them to "canter," it's their job to do just that until *I* tell them to stop. Until they have that lesson down I don't care about crookedness, leads, etc. I frequently ride my babies with a dressage whip because I find that I get a lot more respect with that little "flick" they don't see coming than with leg/spurs/crops.
              __________________________________
              Flying F Sport Horses
              Horses in the NW

              Comment


              • #8
                Oh he is a cutie! First thing I noticed from the video is that he looks hoof sore. Like the footing is too hard and he’s landing a little toe first. That alone could cause him to not want to carry himself properly, and can also cause soreness further up the leg and into the shoulder and back. If he’s residually sore, moving him to softer footing wouldn’t necessarily make a huge difference right away. The robaxin will help with the body soreness, but I would add magic cushion and a gram of bute for a few days (and/or hoof boots if you can) and see what happens when you take hoof pain off the table. Or you could block his fronts and see what that does.

                He’s such a cute mover, but he looks like he’s trotting from one pair of feet to the other with no suspension. That’s what makes me think he’s hoof sore.

                Comment


                • #9
                  He is adorable! I agree with everything else posted so far.

                  The few strides of canter he can manage look fine; he's just telling you that's really all he can manage.

                  Work on forward, relaxed and straight, and the canter will be there when he's stronger and ready.
                  The plural of anecdote is not data.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    He's adorable!

                    But yes it's way to early to be correcting his crookedness. He isn't balanced, coordinated, or strong enough to manage that while cantering.

                    For now just canter forward! Eventually he'll learn to put the pieces together, but most learn those things best at the walk, then the trot, then the canter. His trot is perfect for his stage, but it's not super connected or soft through the body, which again, is totally fine for now, but that's only magnified at the canter and you'll feel it more in the canter. You can't correct the haunch until he has more control over his body and understands how to move his parts and soften while still staying forward and balanced. It's a lot to manage! So forward for now, and worry about the other stuff later.
                    Jennifer Baas
                    It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it. (Aristotle)

                    Comment

                    • Original Poster

                      #11
                      Thanks for all the suggestions so far. My last baby was born with a perfectly balanced canter, so I think my perspective is just off lol.

                      The farrier comes today and I think we'll try a light shoe in front and see if that feels better too.

                      I do carry a dressage whip and I'm all about adding a tap when needed. I'm also experimenting with the different saddles in my box to see what might be most comfortable for now. He currently has very little wither but that doesn't mean they won't sprout soon.

                      Incidentally he has no problem cantering on the lunge, although when I first started him he cross cantered a lot. That improved very quickly, within just a few weeks, so I have hopes that the under saddle canter will improve before too long.
                      "Can you imagine what I would do if I could do all I can?" Sun Tzu
                      Semantics

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Step 1 is go forward. do nothing else before that. I can share video of my first ride on a just under saddle four year old which ends with me being screamed at to let go and go forward, and then a coffee cup is thrown at me.

                        Don't do things, just go forward.

                        once that is installed you'll be shocked by how much more easily straightness follows.
                        Let me apologize in advance.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Another vote here for forward--and consistently forward--before anything else. He sure is cute, though!

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Front shoes, go outside, and go forward.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by ladyj79 View Post
                              Step 1 is go forward. do nothing else before that. I can share video of my first ride on a just under saddle four year old which ends with me being screamed at to let go and go forward, and then a coffee cup is thrown at me.

                              Don't do things, just go forward.

                              once that is installed you'll be shocked by how much more easily straightness follows.
                              OMG, now I know what is missing from my life! I just maybe might need you to come visit me with a coffee cup in tow!
                              __________________________________
                              Flying F Sport Horses
                              Horses in the NW

                              Comment

                              • Original Poster

                                #16
                                Originally posted by ladyj79 View Post
                                Step 1 is go forward. do nothing else before that. I can share video of my first ride on a just under saddle four year old which ends with me being screamed at to let go and go forward, and then a coffee cup is thrown at me.

                                Don't do things, just go forward.

                                once that is installed you'll be shocked by how much more easily straightness follows.
                                hahaha I'm going to hire you to come throw beverage containers as needed.
                                "Can you imagine what I would do if I could do all I can?" Sun Tzu
                                Semantics

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  He's a baby . It will come. I would focus more on the aids for the depart and picking up the correct leads. It's hard for them, the haunches swinging is him trying to figure out how to make it easier . It's hard to push and stay straight at this stage . Don't stress, it will come.
                                  http://www.facebook.com/pages/Fentre...24774504235082

                                  http://fentressfieldsequestriancenter.com/

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    He's very cute,

                                    I suspect that he's just not strong enough or in balance enough to carry him and you at the canter. Your are sort of hustling him into the canter from the active trot that he's in then you overwork your upper body to keep him going, meanwhile your hands are planted .

                                    Start working your changes of balance and speed within the trot, so that you can sit organize the trot and ask for canter.
                                    Asking for canter from a unbalanced too forward trot is hard on a youngster.

                                    I second, third or fourth his going out of the arena.
                                    Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.

                                    Remember the horse does all the work, we just sit there and look pretty.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by ladyj79 View Post
                                      Step 1 is go forward. do nothing else before that. I can share video of my first ride on a just under saddle four year old which ends with me being screamed at to let go and go forward, and then a coffee cup is thrown at me.
                                      I really want to see this video. XD

                                      Agreed with others - my youngun hasn't been ready for much canter work until now, as a 5 yr old (he came off track but is leggy & we had lots of body to build first.) I certainly don't expect him to be straight yet. Cantering in balance under a rider is different then on the longe or at liberty - mine has lovely balance on his own, but it still takes a lot of strength to have a steady, cadenced, straight canter with a human on his spine.

                                      Listen to your horse. Whenever I feel tempted to do too much, I remind myself of the big picture - I want to enjoy many healthy years with him & the best way to do that is to go at the pace that's right for HIM. I spent his 4 yr old year doing walk trot work, lots of trails, terrain, ground poles, and am so glad I waited because canter is so much easier for him with that nice muscled butt & topline .

                                      Life doesn't have perfect footing.

                                      Bloggily entertain yourself with our adventures (and disasters):
                                      We Are Flying Solo

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                                      • #20
                                        I love the way he sticks his nose out. I've always liked horses that hunt the fence that way!
                                        The cue card kid just held up an empty cue card. For a minute there I thought I had lost my sense of humor. --- Red Skelton

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