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Improving canter on young horse? Update post #49

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  • 2bayboys
    started a topic Improving canter on young horse? Update post #49

    Improving canter on young horse? Update post #49

    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
    Last edited by 2bayboys; Sep. 1, 2019, 01:29 PM.

  • findeight
    replied
    Much better, nice to see the lower leg quieter and it looks like you took the stick advice. Looks like you are not working so hard to get every step and he’s happier.

    Now....we need to see you close your hip angle and lighten your seat so he can move out more, not a two point but get your butt off of him and add consistent leg instead of dropping into full seat and pushing with your hips at the canter. Tap behind your leg with the stick if needed.

    His trot has improved greatly, almost a little suspension in there but you need to step on the gas more and sing to yourself to keep a steady pace. Good job in the last 90 days. Stay on it.with the cooler weather ahead, he might get mire ambitious and make your job even easier.

    With horses you fix something and find you create new challenges, it’s never over. Even well finished horses...they get bored and and amuse themselves with a variety of evasions. It’s always something.

    Leave a comment:


  • 2bayboys
    replied
    An update!

    Three months after posting this thread we now kinda sorta have a canter! He had 6 weeks off due to an abscess June through mid-July, then back into work mostly outside the ring and trying to go FORWARD.

    Still a cutie though.

    Some new video at this link
    https://m.facebook.com/story.php?sto...&id=1494030110

    Leave a comment:


  • RainWeasley
    replied
    Originally posted by 2bayboys View Post

    That video is very helpful, thanks!

    Updates for those who commented or had questions:

    The martingale is not common equipment for him. But this ride in my posted video was his very first time off the property, and when he was first backed he tried to get light off his front end a few times when he got stuck or scared, so I put it on him in the spirit of being overly cautious. Clearly it wasn't needed and I see it could definitely have contributed to his reluctance to go forward. It also doubles as a grab strap if needed. I'm old, he's young, and I'm not stupid

    He's turned out all night with a couple other geldings. I'm in Virginia and the bugs are out, so he won't appreciate 24 hour turnout.

    He now has front shoes on, although that does not seem to have made any appreciable difference. He's no longer on Robaxin, as that was a temporary bridge to help get him from soft and unfit to a bit harder and more tolerant in his body to regular work.

    Currently we are only cantering outside of the ring and I resist the urge to fix everything at once. I am keeping flying coffee cups in mind

    As always I appreciate the feedback.
    Rooting for you! Keep us updated, I have a 4 year old that I'm starting canter work with too so it's nice to see other people working on it. Mine finally built up enough strength to stay in a canter by himself. Now we are having to remember what brakes are

    Leave a comment:


  • 2bayboys
    replied
    Originally posted by meupatdoes View Post
    He looks adorable, and I dont think its unreasonable at all to ask a 4yo to canter with a 120 lb rider. I also dont think he's telling you he *can't*, I think he's just a little lazy when the going gets tough (and the going is not getting all that tough, but that is still a better brain than reactive when the going gets tough).

    I just think when he gets a little disorganized, you sit down more and over ride with your hand. You're just trying to fix it, but my advice would be hands forward, put a little loop in the rein, and three or four strides of gallop down the long side. Even just aiming for that will improve things.

    I also think he not definite enough in the up canter transition, and he's probably ready for a leeeeetle bit more expectation there. You dont need to be a jerk about it, but try to cut down on the "faster trot instead of canter" steps, and also try to have a definite CANTER the first step instead of kind of sliding up into the gait. He's not terribly disorganized in that trot, but he's medium disorganized, and it means you have a lower quality canter to work with.

    When my horse was a 4yo w two months under saddle we too got the lecture that we can expect more of a big boy canter depart even though we are 4. So if you get more than three steps of the faster trot, walk again (try to walk within one or two strides, so he doesnt learn that he can just drag you around by the bridle), give yourself one or two walk steps to reorganize (no more, or it becomes a break/reward) and then ask for canter again. You dont have to be a rough jerk about it, just methodical, consistent, and clear. This exercise - removing the extra "faster trot" steps and walking three strides before asking again, wash rinse repeat- will improve the quality of the transition as well as his promptness and ridability to the aids.

    Then, when you get a step of canter, immediately hands forward, cluck, add leg and ask for three BIG steps. This will help the canter you get in the up transition be definite and with purpose, rather than that barely-cantering-I'm-about-to-break situation you're currently getting.

    He doesnt look weak, unbalanced, or unready, I think you're just being super forgiving and trying to help him a little too much instead of expecting him to get a little prompter and more definite. Again, you dont have to be a jerk about raising your expectation, but I think if you methodically and fairly set the bar just a little bit higher, he'll rise to meet it without much issue.

    Here is a video of me working on pretty much the exact same thing with the horse in my profile pic when he was 4 and about two months under saddle. The dressage trainer teaching the lesson is great - she really helped us, and I've followed and implemented her advice to this day.
    Pay particular attention to what she says at 4:38. Following THAT advice has raised my expectation that little bit, and improved the canter transitions much earlier on several horses that came after.

    https://youtu.be/6LLaAcHesDg
    That video is very helpful, thanks!

    Updates for those who commented or had questions:

    The martingale is not common equipment for him. But this ride in my posted video was his very first time off the property, and when he was first backed he tried to get light off his front end a few times when he got stuck or scared, so I put it on him in the spirit of being overly cautious. Clearly it wasn't needed and I see it could definitely have contributed to his reluctance to go forward. It also doubles as a grab strap if needed. I'm old, he's young, and I'm not stupid

    He's turned out all night with a couple other geldings. I'm in Virginia and the bugs are out, so he won't appreciate 24 hour turnout.

    He now has front shoes on, although that does not seem to have made any appreciable difference. He's no longer on Robaxin, as that was a temporary bridge to help get him from soft and unfit to a bit harder and more tolerant in his body to regular work.

    Currently we are only cantering outside of the ring and I resist the urge to fix everything at once. I am keeping flying coffee cups in mind

    As always I appreciate the feedback.

    Leave a comment:


  • Tyrus' Mom
    replied
    Can he canter on a lunge line? I would do trot/canter transitions on a lunge line every day until he has more balance when you are riding him. Working him up hills will strengthen his butt muscles too. I have a youngish (for draft X) that had a lot of problems cantering when I got him and that's what worked for me. Let him practice cantering without worrying about carrying you.

    He's adorable! What a sweetie!

    Leave a comment:


  • Herefordgirl
    replied
    He is adorable! He is more whoa than go so you need to really push him to not break into the trot. Don't worry about how he is cantering but he needs to canter until you ask for the trot. Start with one full time around the ring and work your way up. I am usually breathing just as hard as my horse at the end! Go forward and let him know you mean it!

    Leave a comment:


  • ladyj79
    replied
    Originally posted by alibi_18 View Post

    Agreed.
    ladyj79 , what do you think and may I?
    Absolutely Click image for larger version

Name:	Screenshot_20190524-204835-01.jpeg
Views:	1
Size:	15.3 KB
ID:	10399553

    Leave a comment:


  • alibi_18
    replied
    Originally posted by findeight View Post

    Ask ladyj79. She owns it by virtue of personal experience in becoming a target for her trainers coffeecup when she was slow in grasping the concept of letting a 4 year old go forward. She shared it upthread.

    Personally think we should make it a new COTHism to convey frustration at posters doing something obvious (to us) that we learned (the hard way) won’t work long term. We can store it in the Blue Saddle Inn cupboard when not in use. How about it?
    Agreed.
    ladyj79 , what do you think and may I?

    Leave a comment:


  • findeight
    replied
    Originally posted by alibi_18 View Post

    I think I want to steal this as my new sig line. May I?
    Ask ladyj79. She owns it by virtue of personal experience in becoming a target for her trainers coffeecup when she was slow in grasping the concept of letting a 4 year old go forward. She shared it upthread.

    Personally think we should make it a new COTHism to convey frustration at posters doing something obvious (to us) that we learned (the hard way) won’t work long term. We can store it in the Blue Saddle Inn cupboard when not in use. How about it?

    Leave a comment:


  • alibi_18
    replied
    Originally posted by findeight View Post
    Dont take this personally but I am holding a coffee cup.
    I think I want to steal this as my new sig line. May I?

    Leave a comment:


  • Xanthoria
    replied
    Originally posted by alibi_18 View Post
    Robaxin is a common muscle relaxer.
    Bute is more used for skeletal issues (arthritis) and the vet thought the OP’s might have been muscle sore.
    Actually bute is an NSAID - anti inflammatory and analgesic. So, can be used for muscle pain. But Robaxin would be another good choice - I mentioned bute because you said they used drugs "just to find out if the horse might have some sort of pain issues that they couldn’t pin point with the regular vet check they did..." and the OP said "try a course of Robaxin to counter any body soreness that might be present" and "any kind of body soreness" might not be muscular, hence bute being my suggestion.

    Obviously OP and her vet know horse and situation better than us tho, so all this discussion is moot

    Originally posted by alibi_18 View Post
    Using either Robaxin or Butazone doesn’t change the fact that this was just a test... and not a long term therapy...
    To be fair, I didn't say or imply it was long term, neither did OP...?

    Originally posted by alibi_18 View Post
    And well, the vet and the OP just wanted to check if the horse was suffering from muscle pain in order to adjust the training or look further into a more precise diagnostic.
    Sure, totally fine, I don't know the OP or their vet so we don't now how the conversation went. But my point, to reiterate, was that if a baby horse is muscle sore from work, perhaps the work should be scaled back.


    Originally posted by alibi_18 View Post
    Your ideal is not everyone ideal.
    I wasn't referencing "my" ideal, I was referencing a (scientifically proven and accepted) ideal for the horse, an animal designed for movement who requires social activity for the sake of their mental and physical health. Yes indeed, many horses survive a long time in stalls but yes indeed we do see many signs that it's less ideal for them than we think. (weaving, cribbing, windsucking, being extra spicy and a host of other issue)

    Originally posted by alibi_18 View Post
    Also « alone » in turnout doesn’t mean alone in the world... as being in a stall doesn’t mean a 24/7 « prison » either..
    Eh - you're exaggerating my words. No need - go back and read what I actually said

    Originally posted by alibi_18 View Post
    I reacted to what you wrote : « then usually people lunge for a few mins to take the edge off if horse is still bucky etc. » which doesn’t say anything about any sort of training going on. This expression is usually used to talk about letting the horse buck and run on the lunge line.
    Not in my world - lungeing means training. But I am from the UK and never saw a horse lunged or turned out in order to behave like a hooligan in the arena till I moved to the US, so that's likely a cultural difference. We also turn out horses a lot more in the UK so perhaps that's why we don't need to allow hooliganism on the lunge/in arenas?

    Originally posted by alibi_18 View Post
    The horse could get 24/7 turnout and still be fresh after being off duty for 2-3 day.
    Yeah, but it's less likely right? I'm sure you've experienced how much more tractable horses are when they get ample turnout.

    Leave a comment:


  • TMares
    replied
    Originally posted by findeight View Post
    Fair point about the martingale. He comes up and bumps his nose on it every stride while the reins are bouncy slack. Then drops back down only to come up and hit it again. Might be a part of why he looks and moves backed off, it’s taking the forward away. He comes forward, it bumps his nose. Not the way to introduce collection to a youngster.

    You are also nagging him by bumping him with your heels every step putting too much motion in your lower leg and losing any weight and stability in the Irons. Your leg swings back and heels go up into him, he come up, hits the nose band, the reins flop. Lots going on. That might light him up if he’s fresh. Sit chilly. instead of the bump, bump, bump nagging, put on some spurs and/or, use the whip. Once. Let him get forward and stay foreword, don’t take it away from him once he gets it. GO.

    Dont take this personally but I am holding a coffee cup.

    Me too ride that horse forward. And he's a heavy baby. Please put front shoes on him.

    Leave a comment:


  • findeight
    replied
    Fair point about the martingale. He comes up and bumps his nose on it every stride while the reins are bouncy slack. Then drops back down only to come up and hit it again. Might be a part of why he looks and moves backed off, it’s taking the forward away. He comes forward, it bumps his nose. Not the way to introduce collection to a youngster.

    You are also nagging him by bumping him with your heels every step putting too much motion in your lower leg and losing any weight and stability in the Irons. Your leg swings back and heels go up into him, he come up, hits the nose band, the reins flop. Lots going on. That might light him up if he’s fresh. Sit chilly. instead of the bump, bump, bump nagging, put on some spurs and/or, use the whip. Once. Let him get forward and stay foreword, don’t take it away from him once he gets it. GO.

    Dont take this personally but I am holding a coffee cup.

    Leave a comment:


  • alibi_18
    replied
    Originally posted by Xanthoria View Post
    My vet would use bute for that, with no sedative side effect, but I guess YMMV. My point was that the horse shouldn't have been using himself so hard at age 4 that he's muscle sore enough to need robaxin: that seems a bit extreme to me. So as I said, EITHER the horse's workload should be reduced, or the vet was off. Maybe the vet just proffered that as a last resort because OP didn't want to reduce his workload?
    You are assuming a lot here...

    Robaxin is a common muscular relaxer while Butazone is used more for skeletal issues.

    The vet thought it was surely more a muscular problem than a skeletal one (arthritis is rare at that age).

    The horse DOESN’T need Robaxin and won’t live on that for the rest of its life.

    Like your vet would have done with Bute, it is JUST a test.


    Yeah, which is why I said "ideally" they'd get turnout in groups. I wouldn't board at a place where herd animals have to learn to live in a stall, and be alone for turnout. But I get that lots of people think that's OK.
    « Alone » in turnout doesn’t mean there are no near, even touchable, horses around.

    A stall doesn’t necessarily have to be seen as a prison.

    Maybe horses shouldn’t even be ridden as it is not natural at all.

    The thing about lunging is you don't just stand there and let them go berserk - you can say "no, the arena is for work" while you're safely on the ground. Then the horse gets to work after his correction, and you burn some of that energy working on the lunge. When his head is in the game, you get on.
    I was responding to your comment : « then usually people lunge for a few mins to take the edge off if horse is still bucky etc. » Which said nothing about any training involved. Usually, this expression is used to say that people do let their horses run and buck on the lunge line.

    If the horse isn't getting enough turnout and she feels "if he has more than two days off in a row he gets quite spicy under saddle the first day back." lungeing can be super useful. It also reinforces the control a recently started horse learned on the lunge line.
    Horses can still be spicy under saddle after a few days off despite being 24-7 in large pasture.

    Training isn’t something majikal that horses learn while out eating grass.

    Leave a comment:


  • alibi_18
    replied
    Originally posted by Xanthoria View Post
    My vet would use bute for that, with no sedative side effect, but I guess YMMV. My point was that the horse shouldn't have been using himself so hard at age 4 that he's muscle sore enough to need robaxin: that seems a bit extreme to me. So as I said, EITHER the horse's workload should be reduced, or the vet was off. Maybe the vet just proffered that as a last resort because OP didn't want to reduce his workload?
    Robaxin is a common muscle relaxer.
    Bute is more used for skeletal issues (arthritis) and the vet thought the OP’s might have been muscle sore.

    Using either Robaxin or Butazone doesn’t change the fact that this was just a test... and not a long term therapy...

    And well, the vet and the OP just wanted to check if the horse was suffering from muscle pain in order to adjust the training or look further into a more precise diagnostic.

    Yeah, which is why I said "ideally" they'd get turnout in groups. I wouldn't board at a place where herd animals have to learn to live in a stall, and be alone for turnout. But I get that lots of people think that's OK.
    Your ideal is not everyone ideal.

    Also « alone » in turnout doesn’t mean alone in the world... as being in a stall doesn’t mean a 24/7 « prison » either.

    The thing about lunging is you don't just stand there and let them go berserk - you can say "no, the arena is for work" while you're safely on the ground. Then the horse gets to work after his correction, and you burn some of that energy working on the lunge. When his head is in the game, you get on.

    If the horse isn't getting enough turnout and she feels "if he has more than two days off in a row he gets quite spicy under saddle the first day back." lungeing can be super useful. It also reinforces the control a recently started horse learned on the lunge line.
    I reacted to what you wrote : « then usually people lunge for a few mins to take the edge off if horse is still bucky etc. » which doesn’t say anything about any sort of training going on. This expression is usually used to talk about letting the horse buck and run on the lunge line.

    The horse could get 24/7 turnout and still be fresh after being off duty for 2-3 day.
    Horse don’t train themselves in the field.

    Leave a comment:


  • Xanthoria
    replied
    Originally posted by alibi_18 View Post
    The OP’s vet is not « drug happy »... it’s just to find out if the horse might have some sort of pain issues that they couldn’t pin point with the regular vet check they did...
    My vet would use bute for that, with no sedative side effect, but I guess YMMV. My point was that the horse shouldn't have been using himself so hard at age 4 that he's muscle sore enough to need robaxin: that seems a bit extreme to me. So as I said, EITHER the horse's workload should be reduced, or the vet was off. Maybe the vet just proffered that as a last resort because OP didn't want to reduce his workload?

    Originally posted by alibi_18 View Post
    You see, this cannot be done in many places, for many reasons.

    When I have a horse in training, I only do solo turn out because I try to avoid injuries.
    They have to learn to be in stalls and to be « alone » (with friends nearby).
    Yeah, which is why I said "ideally" they'd get turnout in groups. I wouldn't board at a place where herd animals have to learn to live in a stall, and be alone for turnout. But I get that lots of people think that's OK.

    Originally posted by alibi_18 View Post
    And unlike you, I don’t advocate taking the edges off on the lunge line as I don’t want the horses I train to believe it is correct to buck and run wildly on the lunge line.
    They can do their crazy things on their own time. I prefer putting them loose somewhere.
    I don’t make them run - they do it on their own, but even then, I don’t let them worked themselves into a frenzy. If they do, I hand walk them as long as it takes to calm them down.
    The thing about lunging is you don't just stand there and let them go berserk - you can say "no, the arena is for work" while you're safely on the ground. Then the horse gets to work after his correction, and you burn some of that energy working on the lunge. When his head is in the game, you get on.

    If the horse isn't getting enough turnout and she feels "if he has more than two days off in a row he gets quite spicy under saddle the first day back." lungeing can be super useful. It also reinforces the control a recently started horse learned on the lunge line.

    Leave a comment:


  • Bending Line
    replied
    Very cute! Agreed that you could lose the martingale. Do you carry a crop to give him a little tap when he starts to slow down? Even a little tap on the shoulder may keep him attentive. Also, do you ever ride him in a group where he could follow a friend who's a little more forward? The might inspire him

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  • alibi_18
    replied
    OP, I will say like everyone else that your horse needs to go way more forward than that.

    Not faster, but in front of your leg.
    You seem to be giving leg cues every strides; beware.
    Use your voice and you whip faster, even when lunging.
    Your signals need to be prompter and clearer.

    Originally posted by Xanthoria View Post
    The standing martingale seems tight. It might actually be mentally restricting him, as he knows he only has an inch or two before he hits it. Here’s how to fit them: http://showringready.blogspot.com/20...ngale.html?m=1

    I see a vast majority of standings adjusted too tight at shows, so it’s clear to me this has become an accepted norm. Even advertising photos show them adjusted like tie downs now.
    This.

    Your standing martingale seems too tight.
    He’s already at the end of it while you don’t have rein contact. It should be the opposite.
    The martingale should get in contact if he would raise its head way more than that and only when he evades the contact.

    I’ve never use a martingale on youngsters (and I despise standing ones) as I prefer the horse to find it’s own balance and not feel restricted in any way when they start.

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  • alibi_18
    replied
    Originally posted by Xanthoria View Post
    Hm, either he’s doing too much work or your vets a little drug happy but he shouldn’t need a course of robaxin at age 4 for muscle soreness caused by work IMO.
    The OP’s vet is not « drug happy »... it’s just to find out if the horse might have some sort of pain issues that they couldn’t pin point with the regular vet check they did...

    If he’s frisky after days off first make sure he’s getting plenty turnout (24/7 ideally) in an appropriate group, then usually people lunge for a few mins to take the edge off if horse is still bucky etc.
    You see, this cannot be done in many places, for many reasons.

    When I have a horse in training, I only do solo turn out because I try to avoid injuries.
    They have to learn to be in stalls and to be « alone » (with friends nearby).

    And unlike you, I don’t advocate taking the edges off on the lunge line as I don’t want the horses I train to believe it is correct to buck and run wildly on the lunge line.
    They can do their crazy things on their own time. I prefer putting them loose somewhere.
    I don’t make them run - they do it on their own, but even then, I don’t let them worked themselves into a frenzy. If they do, I hand walk them as long as it takes to calm them down.

    Actually, I believe in power walking to calm horses down and get the crazy out. I do that under saddle too.

    I’m boring like that.
    But it makes really quiet horses who feel safe and under control.

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