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Why walk to canter in the hacks?

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  • Why walk to canter in the hacks?

    Some of you may remember my post about my unshowable horse having a neural meltdown at our in house schooling show...After LOTS of hard work from myself and my friend who is putting some O/F miles on my guy, we think it may be time to take him out to a show... although I may disagree with this on show day! My friend is a retired eventer, and she has been trying to 'hunterize' herself in preparation for the show as she will be doing the O/F, and maybe the hacks depending on how my guy's brain is that day.

    We are planning to take him in and only enter him in one or two classes, depending on how he is doing, or if it's not in the cards, either ask to school him during the hacks, without being judged, or just hack around for the day. My biggest concern is the walk to canter transition. Why the walk to canter transition?! Why not from the trot???!!! *cries* My eventer friend also questions the walk to canter, and I couldn't answer as to why they do it that way

    My guy did some jumper shows in a past life, and walk to canter transitions for some reason really hot him up. I am worried that will be the proverbial straw for us that causes the meltdown in the ring. I have tried schooling them at home, but they have the same result, even using different methods and with different riders. When I ask for the walk to canter, he scoots forward and rushes, and it ususally takes a few strides to get him to soften and settle. Trot to canter he is lovely and soft. I have tried asking softly, sitting deeply and ightly squeezing him and have also ditched my spurs *gasp!* for the first time since I've owned this guy, but he just won't step quietly into the canter. Any ideas??

  • #2
    Originally posted by JustABay View Post
    Some of you may remember my post about my unshowable horse having a neural meltdown at our in house schooling show...After LOTS of hard work from myself and my friend who is putting some O/F miles on my guy, we think it may be time to take him out to a show... although I may disagree with this on show day! My friend is a retired eventer, and she has been trying to 'hunterize' herself in preparation for the show as she will be doing the O/F, and maybe the hacks depending on how my guy's brain is that day.

    We are planning to take him in and only enter him in one or two classes, depending on how he is doing, or if it's not in the cards, either ask to school him during the hacks, without being judged, or just hack around for the day. My biggest concern is the walk to canter transition. Why the walk to canter transition?! Why not from the trot???!!! *cries* My eventer friend also questions the walk to canter, and I couldn't answer as to why they do it that way

    My guy did some jumper shows in a past life, and walk to canter transitions for some reason really hot him up. I am worried that will be the proverbial straw for us that causes the meltdown in the ring. I have tried schooling them at home, but they have the same result, even using different methods and with different riders. When I ask for the walk to canter, he scoots forward and rushes, and it ususally takes a few strides to get him to soften and settle. Trot to canter he is lovely and soft. I have tried asking softly, sitting deeply and ightly squeezing him and have also ditched my spurs *gasp!* for the first time since I've owned this guy, but he just won't step quietly into the canter. Any ideas??
    A hunter is supposed to be quiet and obedient. Going from the walk to the canter shows the horses is responsive, listening, obedient, and quiet. Going from walk to canter does the same. You wouldn't want to hunt all day long on a jigging wreck that would only trot or canter, wouldn't walk or stop at the checks. So that's not ideal for the hunter show ring either.

    I find, on a nervous canterer, DON'T force yourself to IMMEDIATELY canter when called for. It's not a command class or Simon Says. Take 30 seconds and organize and ask when the horse is collected and stepping under himself so he CAN easily pick up the canter. If you have a lead issue, set yourself up to be on a circle or in the corner when you ask. It's not a race, dragging along for 5 minutes before cantering is no good, but taking 20-30 seconds to organize is okay and just might help. Also don't let him dog along at the walk. Keep him on light contact and listening so he's organized and ready for the canter.
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    • #3
      One thing I have found to be useful with rushy horses is transitions. Lots and lots and lots of transitions. Up, down, within gait. The more you do, the better. He'll learn that nothing exciting is going to happen and will calm himself down.
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      • #4
        Originally posted by vxf111 View Post
        A hunter is supposed to be quiet and obedient. Going from the walk to the canter shows the horses is responsive, listening, obedient, and quiet. Going from walk to canter does the same. You wouldn't want to hunt all day long on a jigging wreck that would only trot or canter, wouldn't walk or stop at the checks. So that's not ideal for the hunter show ring either.

        I find, on a nervous canterer, DON'T force yourself to IMMEDIATELY canter when called for. It's not a command class or Simon Says. Take 30 seconds and organize and ask when the horse is collected and stepping under himself so he CAN easily pick up the canter. If you have a lead issue, set yourself up to be on a circle or in the corner when you ask. It's not a race, dragging along for 5 minutes before cantering is no good, but taking 20-30 seconds to organize is okay and just might help. Also don't let him dog along at the walk. Keep him on light contact and listening so he's organized and ready for the canter.
        this

        Make sure you have a nice step at the walk before asking for the canter. My trainer has been having me work on those kinds of transitions lately. I've discovered that if my horse doesn't have enough step and is being sloppy, asking for a canter just makes everything fall apart or at least have an ugly transition!

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        • #5
          Originally posted by JustABay View Post
          My eventer friend also questions the walk to canter, and I couldn't answer as to why they do it that way
          Eventers often work off the dressage scale and thus the walk/canter transition is considered a lot more advanced and not done for quite some time. I never knew a walk/canter transition (or even halt/canter) was suppose to be hard until I started riding as an adult at a non h/j barn. It's just like lead changes not being taught until much later. Different philosophies.

          You need to make sure that you aren't uptight about the transition. Get him moving under you, from his butt...balanced and forward. Then ask. Make sure you don't unintentionally grab at him if he squirts forward a bit at first.

          Just don't make them out to be something harder than they are. No one expects a perfect dressage walk-canter transition, just a soft step up to the canter.

          BTW - lots and lots of transitions only serve to work some horses up. We have one beginner school horse that will get all sorts of upset if you make him do a lot of transitions. One of my horses will get a little upset as well. The other benefits from them...more transitions just make him sharper and better. Do what works for your horse
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          • #6
            It helps hide the lame ones
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            • #7
              It's a schooliung show. You are there to school and give your horse a good experience so that in the future he can go to shows and be competitive. If he can't give you a walk canter transition without a meltdown then don't do one. If it is asked for, pick up trot for several strides and then go to canter. Sure this will probably mean that you don't win the class, but that's not the point of this show. You can work out the walk canter transition later.

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              • #8
                Just trot a few steps into it if it makes your horse feel better. It's not going to make him place any worse than turning into a neurotic monster will, if you think it will rile him up.

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                • #9
                  No one is going to shoot you for a few trot steps. Sure, a clean transition is nicer, but it's not the main focus of the judging. Besides, if you plan carefully you can keep the transition somewhat hidden from plain view of the judge.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by CBoylen View Post
                    No one is going to shoot you for a few trot steps. Sure, a clean transition is nicer, but it's not the main focus of the judging. Besides, if you plan carefully you can keep the transition somewhat hidden from plain view of the judge.
                    Exactly! I have watched a lot of hack classes and you do see horses do a few steps of trot in there and still sometimes pinning if they hide it from the judges.

                    And as everyone said it is a schooling show it is about having a good experience, and not fighting for the transitions.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by fourmares View Post
                      It's a schooliung show. You are there to school and give your horse a good experience so that in the future he can go to shows and be competitive. If he can't give you a walk canter transition without a meltdown then don't do one. If it is asked for, pick up trot for several strides and then go to canter. Sure this will probably mean that you don't win the class, but that's not the point of this show. You can work out the walk canter transition later.
                      Ditto this! The point of a schooling show is to train your horse. Let him have a good experience, even if you have to give up a ribbon. It pays off in the long run.

                      Good Luck!!!
                      Seb
                      Aca-Believe it!!

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                      • #12
                        Have you had a vet look at him? Some horses get hot when they hurt a little doing something. For example, a sore back or hocks might get triggered with a walk to canter transition.
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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by kookicat View Post
                          It helps hide the lame ones
                          Uh...yeah...right...because they are never asked to trot in the hack.
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                          • #14
                            I think the upward from walk to canter is much smoother, for me. I personally don't love trot to canter, but that's probably my problem where I get discombobulated if I don't get the canter from the trot right away. I insist that all my horses have very nice upwards from the walk!

                            **Not to hijack, but I've always been taught to sit two beats to switch to the inside diagonal before asking for the canter for the trot. I've always done it, and it always feels right, and when the horses feel you switch your post the seem to set themselves up for the canter like they know what it means. Why is this? I can't really figure out the mechanics behind it.

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                            • #15
                              I would say, since it sounds like this show is more about having a calm, positive experience for the horse and less about the ribbon.. screw it. Trot a few steps and pick up your canter. No harm done.
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                              • #16
                                In Saddle Seat we canter from the walk or even the halt. Teaching it to a nervous horse takes time so don't rush it (I agree with everyone who is saying to canter from a few trot strides at the show, until your horse is comfortable with it).

                                I usually use a lot of half halts in the training process. It helps to bring the hind end under the horse and get them paying attention.

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                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by equidae View Post
                                  I think the upward from walk to canter is much smoother, for me. I personally don't love trot to canter, but that's probably my problem where I get discombobulated if I don't get the canter from the trot right away. I insist that all my horses have very nice upwards from the walk!

                                  **Not to hijack, but I've always been taught to sit two beats to switch to the inside diagonal before asking for the canter for the trot. I've always done it, and it always feels right, and when the horses feel you switch your post the seem to set themselves up for the canter like they know what it means. Why is this? I can't really figure out the mechanics behind it.
                                  You're not hijacking but pointing to the real issue. If you ask your horse for a canter when it is possible for them to pick up a canter, meaning their footfalls naturally allow them to canter, you get a smooth transition. Asking a horse to do something when it is impossible for them to do makes them nervous.

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                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by Zanny View Post
                                    You're not hijacking but pointing to the real issue. If you ask your horse for a canter when it is possible for them to pick up a canter, meaning their footfalls naturally allow them to canter, you get a smooth transition. Asking a horse to do something when it is impossible for them to do makes them nervous.
                                    There is a larger 'window' to ask at the walk than there is at the trot, which makes it easier. But I'm not sure if that answers the question about switching diagonals and then asking from the trot..

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                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by equidae View Post
                                      There is a larger 'window' to ask at the walk than there is at the trot, which makes it easier. But I'm not sure if that answers the question about switching diagonals and then asking from the trot..
                                      When you go from posting to sitting it works as a half-halt to give the horse a heads up something new is coming, followed by an ask to canter.

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                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by Zanny View Post
                                        When you go from posting to sitting it works as a half-halt to give the horse a heads up something new is coming, followed by an ask to canter.
                                        I don't mean sitting and asking. I'm talking about switching diagonals. Not just sitting, but actually switching to the inside diagonal rather than the outside. Why does posting on the 'wrong' diagonal just before asking help.

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