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Big horse, small indoor what to do ?

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  • Big horse, small indoor what to do ?

    Hey everyone,
    So I am riding a really really nice horse who is about 18 hh. He's really fantastic and I really like riding him, but now that its getting colder, we're going to be in the indoor a lot more. My barn's indoor is really really tiny, and usually it is fine, but with a horse as big as this guy, it's a little too small for cantering, especially because he has a HUGE stride, even for his size. I rode him in the indoor yesterday, and I really couldn't canter him. I'm pretty good at collecting a horse and getting them to rock back and bring their inside leg up under them, even on finicky horses. This guy likes a very soft hand, but is really good with seat. He doesn't like to be forced into a frame, he likes to just loosen up and go hunter-ey. While that is a nice ride in a large arena or a field, it's not a possible or productive way to go in our indoor. When I tried to canter him in the indoor for the first time, he just ran and then broke into a fast strung out trot. I am not an extremely timid rider, but I don't know him very well and other people have told me things about him being finicky. I spent pretty much my entire ride doing sitting trot, but I would like to be able to canter him this winter, so how can I go about getting him in a better way as far as cantering is concerned? My trainer is not around this week, but I will ask her advive when she gets back.

    "If we we couldn't laugh we'd all go insane, if we weren't all crazy we'd all go insane." ~Jimmy Buffet
    "Pursuing the life of my high-riding heroes I burned up my childhood days..."-Willie Nelson

  • #2
    Just curious, how big is the indoor?
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    • #3
      I had a similar horse in a 60' indoor round pen.
      For your situation, I would work on trot/canter transitions, collected trot around the small ends with good shoulder control, then a hind first transition to straight collected canter down the long side, back into a collected trot before the corner. I would also do lots of body control figurative exercises at the trot and walk. Work over poles set in exact patterns. Turns on forehand and hind, sidepassing, spiral in and out at walk and trot.
      Pray for an early spring.
      Comprehensive Equestrian Site Planning and Facility Design


      • #4
        i would not try cantering yet. really work on transitions and things that make him more rideable. and then you will find that cantering will be easy. i have a big horse and a small indoor. the first year i could not canter in it. but after a year of flatwork and now i can canter small circles if i want to.


        • #5
          A tight ring will teach a big horse to carry himself and balance himself. It works better if the ring has some length, but is narrow, but if this is not what you have, then you gotta go with what you've got as far as length goes. Let him solve the problem of the smaller arena himself, ask him to do what he can in there without pushing him to do more than this. Don't try to balance him or do it for him, let him find the solution himself. If you ask for the canter transition for the long sides, then back to trot around the corners and short ends, not only do your canter/trot transitions improve, but his balance and carriage will improve with time and practice. When he feels more balanced and is more accustomed to the turns, extend your canter distance to cantering into the turns before transitioning to trot to trot out. By spring you might have a big horse who can canter around in a small arena. Then in a larger arena, he will be handy and the smaller arena will have been useful to you and him. If always in a large arena, he would not have to learn how to make these adjustments.


          • #6
            Use it. I have found it helpful with a big horse to be able to "bounce them off the walls" if you will.

            Can he canter on the lunge? If not then maybe some lunging in side reins (not cranked!) would be a good start. I hate over lunging a horse but a few minutes a couple of times a week really can help them learn to carry and balance without the rider getting in the way.

            I also don't see the point of cantering around and around and around. Lots of transitions is far more beneficial (IMO). When your canter transitions are flawless then work on transitions within the gate. Hopefully by this time you can move back outdoors!
            "look deep into his pedigree. Look for the name of a one-of-a-kind horse who lends to his kin a fierce tenacity, a will of iron, a look of eagles. Look & know that Slew is still very much with us."


            • #7
              Our indoor is roughly 20m x 40m and my horse is a 16.2+ leggy green TB. I feel your pain. I will say, my horse is much more balanced for having to negotiate tight corners.

              I do lots and lots of transitions. I also like to just canter the long sides and trot or walk the short sides.
              I love my Econo-Nag!


              • #8
                I agree with the concept of doing a lot of transitions to get your horse listening and more able to collect in the small space. I too ride an 18h horse and understand how difficult working in a small ring can be.

                Originally posted by billiebob View Post
                Our indoor is roughly 20m x 40m and my horse is a 16.2+ leggy green TB. I feel your pain. I will say, my horse is much more balanced for having to negotiate tight corners.

                I do lots and lots of transitions. I also like to just canter the long sides and trot or walk the short sides.
                FWIW, 20m x 40m is the size of a small dressage arena...so cantering in that size space, with practice, is a very acheivable goal. In the mid-level eventing dressage tests, you not only have to canter in that size arena, but have to demonstrate canter lengthenings both down the long side and on a 20m circle, depending on the test
                ~Drafties Clique~Sprite's Mom~ASB-loving eventer~
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                • #9
                  Originally posted by sisu27 View Post
                  Can he canter on the lunge?
                  I was going to ask that too. If he can canter on a 20m circle for longeing, he can canter in a small indoor. Most likely it's your issue and not his. Figure out what you are doing to change his balance and stop doing it. (easier said, than done...however).

                  Our covered ring is a little larger than a small court dressage arena. I was in there last night with 4 other horses and three jumps set up...on a horse who I have steering problems with(bulging shoulders or cutting corner) and I was trying to avoid the bad spots in the footing all the while Mr. horse was spooking at another horse with polka dot blanket on. IT was an interesting ride, in tight quarters, but it was a learning experience.
                  Keith: "Now...let's do something normal fathers and daughters do."
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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by tarheelmd07 View Post
                    FWIW, 20m x 40m is the size of a small dressage arena...so cantering in that size space, with practice, is a very acheivable goal. In the mid-level eventing dressage tests, you not only have to canter in that size arena, but have to demonstrate canter lengthenings both down the long side and on a 20m circle, depending on the test
                    We're good now, but when I got him it was a little, um, interesting around the corners. Now he knows that he has feet.
                    I love my Econo-Nag!


                    • #11
                      How big is the ring? I've found that definitions of small indoors vary wildly! Mine is 60 X 120 and is big enough for course work with tighter turns and a 3 stride line.


                      • #12
                        You learn to ride the horse in the small indoor.

                        Our indoor is small and still we manage 8 jumps with 5 horses in it. Our horses and riders can ride in anything - turn wise, jump wise due to riding in a small indoor.


                        • #13
                          I agree with Ozone. Use it to your advantage or go outside.


                          • #14
                            If your indoor is big enough to be an actual indoor arena, then it is big enough. Watch a World Cup video, notice how small their turns and approaches to the jumps are and how large some of the horses' strides are. Shutterfly is a good example. If they can jump those jumps with turns that tight on horses up to 18 hands, u can ride around and around a small indoor. I know that sounds kind of mean and I am not trying to be mean just straight forward.


                            • #15
                              I think I'm in a minority here, but I think cantering an 18hh horse in a very small indoor isn't a great idea for long-term soundness.


                              • #16
                                I grew up riding a 18 3/4 TB is a very small indoor. It is amazing how creative you can get. The winter will be over soon enough, (hopefully), spend this time in strength training. Flat work/ lateral work/ transitions/ cavellitti grids. Take every action you do and slow it down 3x. It's like you doing concentration workouts. Builds muscle, response to your aids. Take some dressage lessons. When you get to a big outdoor, you will come off a line and have time to read a book in the turn before the next jump. People pull shoes and give horses off, you really won't be far behind. In 3 weeks of slow work he'll be more balance and cantering will be easier. Try to have fun.