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Young Mare That Would Rather Power Trot Than Canter...

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  • Young Mare That Would Rather Power Trot Than Canter...

    ...both on the lunge and under saddle.

    She has only been ridden a handful of times, and lunged a handful and a half. Everything has been very low key, and she has only been asked to canter once under saddle as she hasn't really "gotten" it on the lunge. She is great at whoa/walk/trot on lunge and under saddle.

    She seems quite anxious about cantering, and when she's requested to move forward from the trot to the canter, she goes into an unbelievably fast trot. She will occasionally put a few canter strides in, but they are racing strides and she breaks back into the speedy trot after a few seconds. You'd think she was a Standardbred trotter...

    She isn't being chased or bugged about it, just some clucks/kisses, "can-TER", and a slight move of the whip towards her hindquarters. She also canters freely in her field with seemingly no hesitation.

    I'm about at a loss with her, as I've never come across a horse who didn't instinctually pick up a canter when they were asked to "go faster" from a trot. At this point, I don't have access to a field or other area where I can take her and encourage the canter there (under saddle), as I normally like to do with my babies.

    I don't have a round pen or smaller area to free lunge her, but I'm thinking of blocking off one end of the ring so I can potentially "free lunge" her if that might help to at least get the concept down. It's almost as if she thinks she will get in trouble for cantering, but she's had no prior training to instill this thought process.

    Has anyone ever had a horse act like this before? Any insight/ideas would be appreciated.

  • #2
    It sounds like she just doesn't quite have enough balance to feel comfortable cantering in a circle or with a rider yet. I wouldn't rush her. Pushing the issue when she isn't ready could lead to anxiety.

    Circles at the trot, poles, etc will help her balance as well as just more time with a rider. Some horses are just more naturally balanced than others.

    Comment


    • #3
      The pony that I'm bringing back into shape right now does the same thing. She goes into her "super trot" and then runs herself into the canter. She's not green though, she knows what she's supposed to do, she just likes to be a... female about it. Especially after spending a year and a half as a leadline pony.
      We've been doing lots of walk to canter transitions and they seem to be helping. If she doesn't break nicely from a balanced trot, I slow her back down to a walk and start over. Mostly we're doing transitions, transitions, transitions. Do you ever ride her while she's on the lunge line? If she responds to cues from the ground well, I'd definitely try that.

      EDIT; she may not be ready for walk to canter transitions if she's super green though. If it seems to be more of a confidence thing with her, definitely work on balance and relaxation before pushing for the canter.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by forestergirl99 View Post
        It sounds like she just doesn't quite have enough balance to feel comfortable cantering in a circle or with a rider yet. I wouldn't rush her. Pushing the issue when she isn't ready could lead to anxiety.

        Circles at the trot, poles, etc will help her balance as well as just more time with a rider. Some horses are just more naturally balanced than others.
        This ^ Especially if she is green and still growing - she's learning to balance herself and now also a rider atop all that. Could also be a confidence issue of course, as noted in the post above mine.

        Don't push it. Build and develop the trot and strength and confidence, and the canter will come. Depending on where she is at now or where she is at as you develop her trot, putting her over a small x-rail might help encourage the canter too. Otherwise, circular patterns, poles, cavelleti, lateral work, etc. Just always take what she offers and build off of it, don't try to force anything and it will come as a natural progression When she does canter, just ask for a stride or two (whatever she is capable of giving), then ask for a transition down before she does it (make it your idea). Then build off that and progressively ask for more as she is capable of giving you more - expect a lot, accept little, reward often.
        ....horses should be trained in such a way that they not only love their riders, but look forward to the time they are with them.
        ~ Xenophon, 350 B.C.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by naturalequus View Post
          This ^ Especially if she is green and still growing - she's learning to balance herself and now also a rider atop all that. Could also be a confidence issue of course, as noted in the post above mine.

          Don't push it. Build and develop the trot and strength and confidence, and the canter will come. Depending on where she is at now or where she is at as you develop her trot, putting her over a small x-rail might help encourage the canter too. Otherwise, circular patterns, poles, cavelleti, lateral work, etc. Just always take what she offers and build off of it, don't try to force anything and it will come as a natural progression When she does canter, just ask for a stride or two (whatever she is capable of giving), then ask for a transition down before she does it (make it your idea). Then build off that and progressively ask for more as she is capable of giving you more - expect a lot, accept little, reward often.
          Couldn't have said it better.

          Comment


          • #6
            It takes time! We had a 4 yr old HAN/TB mare come to us for training last year, she was quite leggy and immature thru the topline. At first it was IMPOSSIBLE to get canter, just power trot. However, waht I did was insist on a LITTLE canter, 1/2 way around to start with, and gradually over a month or two increase the length of time I would keep her in it. It was a bit "ugly" at first, but by two months, she could, nicely, canter several large, 20 meter circles on the lunge, and later under saddle. It just took time for her to balance and build up the muscles. Also do not ask a youngster to canter without side reins. Not tight, but enough to give them a little something to balance against.
            www.shawneeacres.net

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            • #7
              My green horse was like this also. I spent a lot of time lunging him in side reins at the walk and trot so that he could learn how to use his body and balance himself well. In the beginning I saved cantering only for trail rides where we'd follow another horse on a long straight path in the woods. I was getting anxious about it so I tried cantering him in the arena but it was a mess - he was very unbalanced and we had a hard time steering.

              After a few months of the w/t on the lunge, we moved to cantering but only for a few strides. Gradually we built it up, as he told me he was ready and wanted to. Just a few weeks ago I went on my first trail ride of the season and when I cantered out there it felt so much better than before. Not stressed, not rushed, not unbalanced, just nice and easy. Now cantering in the arena is a regular part of our work (although only a couple laps in each direction) and again he feels so much more balanced. And he seems to "get it" - I can just slide my leg back at the walk, or scoop my butt at the trot and get the transition (and the correct lead). Honestly, I don't know how it transferred over that he "got" the aids, but I'll take it!

              I agree to build the muscling and balance at the trot. Heck, even my made horse's canter improved, without actually cantering, when we focused on the quality of the trot.
              My Mustang Adventures - Mac, my mustang | Annwylid D'Lite - my Cob filly

              "A horse's face always conveys clearly whether it is loved by its owner or simply used." - Anja Beran

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              • #8
                Oh, also, it isn't just lunging in and of itself that was helpful, it was teaching him how to move his body in a way that was biomechanically correct and allowed him to place his feet in the optimal position for strikeoff. But this didn't happen overnight, it was a thoughtful process of training to deliberately move over the shoulder and ribcage, and placing the hind feet. Running from the trot into the canter only creates an unbalanced canter - you want to get the canter from a balanced trot that is rhythmic and steady.

                If you have access to a dressage instructor who can help you with lunging and/or long-lining, you might find it quite helpful.
                My Mustang Adventures - Mac, my mustang | Annwylid D'Lite - my Cob filly

                "A horse's face always conveys clearly whether it is loved by its owner or simply used." - Anja Beran

                Comment

                • Original Poster

                  #9
                  Thanks for all the input guys. I'm happy to take it slow with her and wait until she is ready and balanced. Like Pocket Pony, I've been getting a little worried about it - fantastic, I finally have my dream horse, and she's incapable of cantering, haha.

                  I haven't lunged her in side reins yet, but I will pick some up this weekend. I think I just needed to know that she isn't the only horse who's had this "issue" as all the warmbloods I've backed in the past have been very quick to canter. Off to perfect our w/t we go

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I had a pony with this problem, very solid 2 months of walk trot, and transitions but couldn't get her into the canter....spoke with an old quarter horse trainer (i've only ever ridden hunters) he tells me, she's not ready yet. Turn her out for two months and then try again. Well my pony is now 6 and a fabulous hunter, working on qualifying for pony finals this year Good luck!
                    Cypresscreekstable.com
                    Quality Hunters: Sales, Training, and Instruction.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Having your youngster follow a calm guy with a good, slow, balanced canter can make all the difference, and seriously changes the struggle into a fun and easy proposition. It's like the light bulbs go on over their heads... "OH, THAT's what you want me to do!"

                      When she gets cantering, say, "GOOD canter! GOOD canter!" and pat her as she goes. Do you have a dirt road with a nice uphill stretch nearby you can use? An idea- try early canters out on such a dirt road uphill so you can let her power forward, IN COMPANY with one other calm horse. Let her have some fun, and stretch her neck and back uphill. I like to stay off their backs the first few times so they can find their balance without interference. Make much of her when she gives it to you.

                      Patience, it will come. I have found that working youngsters in company makes them so much easier to teach.
                      Last edited by kayteedee; Jun. 5, 2011, 11:48 AM. Reason: misspelling

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