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Need Advise! Weve hit a wall.

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  • Need Advise! Weve hit a wall.

    I have been working a horse who is 9 years old. He was started all wrong when he was 5 by a drunk cowboy who lunged him around a ring with a kid on him and said he was broke. jeez.

    So, now at 9 years old, I was asked to actually work with this horse who couldn't be ridden for obvious reasons. Except we have hit a wall.

    I have done the usual ground work. Walk, trot, canter in the round pen. He minds voice commands perfectly to a T. Under saddle, we have progressed nicely to the working trot. Now for the canter...

    It isnt there. At all. He will canter in the round pen. He canters in his turnout field with no rider of course. He refuses to canter with a rider unless he's totally spooked and bolts forward but then he still wont canter out. He litterally turns his butt and kicks once and just refuses. Ive used a dressage whip and tried lunging his with a rider at the canter. Ive tried crops, spurs, you name it. Tried cantering him in an open field....nothing will make this horse canter.

    Any suggestions?
    Last edited by equestriantrainer_101; Mar. 20, 2011, 10:34 PM.

  • #2
    Have you tried following another horse? Preferably in the open field?


    • Original Poster

      I actually tried that yesterday and no go. This is so frustrating. Ive checked for any pain as well and nothing, he's fine there too. Ive just never ran into this problem to this extent before when starting or training a horse.


      • #4
        I think Dr. Seuss could have fun with this one...

        In seriousness though, jump him! Point him at something and see if he'll go over it. He's apt to land cantering and then just praise him like crazy for cantering. Don't ask for the canter, just let it happen and reward so much that people nearby think you're a little crazy.

        Kind of like lead changes too; sometimes you just have to stop trying and leave it alone for a while and they figure it out.

        Good luck! Be safe!


        • #5
          What did you do to check for pain? Have you tried a different saddle, or bareback? When he canters in the round pen, is it coordinated and balanced?
          Patience pays.


          • #6
            Originally posted by sp56 View Post
            I think Dr. Seuss could have fun with this one...

            In seriousness though, jump him! Point him at something and see if he'll go over it. He's apt to land cantering and then just praise him like crazy for cantering. Don't ask for the canter, just let it happen and reward so much that people nearby think you're a little crazy.

            Kind of like lead changes too; sometimes you just have to stop trying and leave it alone for a while and they figure it out.

            Good luck! Be safe!
            I have to agree with this 100%. I had a mare who would canter on the trail with no issues. In the ring though, as soon as you started pushing for the canter she would just stop and you were lucky to get her trotting again that day. If you hit her, she would explode. The only thing that worked was to trot into a small jump and she would canter away then just maintain for a few strides and praise.

            It works like a charm! Don't over do it though! Take it slow and have reasonable goals. Good luck!


            • #7
              YUP - the jumping approach worked for me as well. I used it when I was training a stbd to ride. In this case he would pick up the canter - crow hop (unseating the rider just enough) and then trot, but he did LOVE to jump. We started with little things and progressed to little bounce grid lines (where it was just easier for him to canter). Eventually he got it.


              • #8
                He doesn't know how...and has learned he does not have to do it.

                most of them will canter after a low trot jump-but this one is probably going to break in half with you when he does. It has worked for a long time, no reason to expect any changes at this point.

                One question, is time a problem here??? Just thinking that he has spent 6 or 7 of his 9 years being improperly handled and getting away with doing what he wants. It is likely going to take some time and my choice would be to just walk and trot for now and ride regularly to reprogram him. Rushing before he relearns is apt to end in catastrophe. At some point, most of them get bored and "forget" past bad behavior.

                But of he has to go home in 30 days or something? I don't think you will get him fixed to the point he will be dependable. Maybe in 90 days.

                Meanwhile, everytime you ask for the canter and don't get it? he just proves to himself he does not have to and you can't make him. And he is right, you cannot make a horse to anything. But you can make them WANT to do what you want them to do. But not in a few weeks.

                I don't want to rule pain out but it sounds like this one has never worked very hard if nobody can make him canter.
                When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

                The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.