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Loping/cantering problem, need suggestions

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  • Loping/cantering problem, need suggestions

    Quick overview, the real My Buddy's Blue, Snow, was hurt 3 years ago in a freak accident. He has finally returned to work but is cross cantering or loping since he is a western horse. Before he was hurt, he had started to do cross canter every now and again but now it is really bad. I have been working him is straight lines, no circles. He is a very talented horse. He can do flying changes, pick either lead up from a stand still, side-pass, roll-back, you name it he can do it, but he still will cross canter. Should I start circles or just stay with my straight lines? Please any suggestions. Snow used to be an all-around horse, but I broke my ankle the same day he was hurt in the same accident so huntseat is now out for us due to the fact that it is uncomfortable to ride in field boots, but he can still have that kind of training if I need to. My cowgirl boots don't hurt my ankle. Thanks in advance.
    I'm so busy.....I don't know if I found a rope or lost my horse.

    Alright put your big girl panties on and deal with it!

  • #2
    Have the vet out. Cross-cantering can be due to pain in the stifles, back or SI joint (among others).


    • #3
      I would agree with a vet check, and maybe acupuncture if you have that vet service in the area and it is warranted by lingering damage from the accident.

      If medical issues are ruled out or treated, and it were my horse, first thing after a long layoff would be lots of basic conditioning in straight lines as you say you are doing- but emphasis on walk and trot. I'd also be starting flexibility/ circles/ lateral work, slowly, at the walk and then at the trot, and really just a minute or two on each ride to start and build up from there.

      If the nature of his injury caused significant loss of muscle tone- and maybe more on one side than the other- working up to a whole lot of trotting is the way I'd go for balanced muscle building. Or if there is muscle injury or atrophy more to one side than the other, I would take that into account in thinking about arena work focused on building up the weak side or area. Go slow, it will get you where you want to be sooner. If he was three years off you need months to a year to get the right base and conditioning going. I wouldn't even think about things like flying changes or roll backs or even nice canter departures from a standstill until he isn't cross cantering any more.


      • #4
        Ditto the vet or chiropractic check. My girl (like alot of young horses) cross fires quite a bit one direction, not the other. Chiro helped tremendously. I am doing some strength building with her and its also helping. If you really pay attention you can feel the canter start to come apart before they switch behind. I do as many strides as she can handle, say 1/2 a circle or so, then back to trot before she switches. Rebalance then ask again. We have gotten up to a full time around the arena with an occasional circle. This has taken about 2 months. Its definately a big improvement.
        Do not toy with the dragon, for you are crunchy and good with ketchup!


        • #5
          He lost alot of muscle strength during his time off and, just like a colt, it is going to take time to build him back up again.

          Please, please, please resist the urge to rush. Back off and do alot of "long" trotting (I know tough on the western rider but you can post in that saddle). I wouldn't do too many circles right now. Let him build back up before you do any cantering. Oh, and don't worry about losing the ability to "jog" by trotting "too fast", used to show WP and it actually helps improve that gait quality when you ask them to collect back down to it.

          Oviously call the vet out too. But alot of horses will cross canter from time to time due to a variety of things and if you do not keep his body straight on the long sides and shoulders up on your circles? He is going to cross canter. If you got him on his forehand instead of his hind, he will also get disunited. Same thing if you get going too slow. But here, he is simply not carrying enough condition to canter yet.

          When our Hunters and Jumpers come back to work after a long lay up, it takes about 6 months to really get them back up to a fitness level suitable to add any jumps. We do alot of straight sides walking the corners and don't canter at all the first couple of months, then it is just straight sides and walking the corners. Go S-L-O-W, give it more time.
          When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

          The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.


          • Original Poster

            Thanks for the replies. We have had the vet and chiropractor out and they both gave the go ahead to ride. My hubby laughs and says that Snow has higher medical bills than he does. Right now we are not doing anything fancy, just the basics and not much of that. I guess after such a long lay-off and a bad injury, I tend to worry. We were working cows when he got hurt. He was hit by a 1800 lb bull. It was a very bad wreck, 3 years later I still have nightmares and don't like being around bulls I don't know. I can't imagine what he will think when he is able to go back if he ever does. Right now, we are on an every other day riding schedule and like I said just basics. Again thanks
            I'm so busy.....I don't know if I found a rope or lost my horse.

            Alright put your big girl panties on and deal with it!


            • #7
              I would run my flat palms over every square inch of his hide, getting acquainted with his tight spots, hot spots, flinchy spots. I bet he has some.

              Have you thought about buting him for a few days, then riding him? I would be curious to see if he was better with that approach. It would show he's hurting somewhere.

              Lot of straight lines, walk/trot/walk transitions, backing up gentle inclines (in hand). just a few steps in a nice lifted-back posture...would perhaps help his strength. Trot over poles. No cantering, no hard shut downs...forward, forward, forward...

              Is he worse one way or another?
              Does he do this at liberty?


              • Original Poster

                No he doesn't do at liberty, he's lazy, he doesn't do anything at liberty, never has. I keep thinking that if my ankle sometimes will not work, that maybe he has the same going on with him. He hurt his left side, but it happens worse on his right lead. He is on a medicine called STP that has worked really well.
                I'm so busy.....I don't know if I found a rope or lost my horse.

                Alright put your big girl panties on and deal with it!


                • #9
                  If you've ruled out pain/medical issues, I would ask someone whose riding abilities you trust and respect to ride him and see if he does it with them, too.

                  Since you were injured badly in the wreck as well, it might be that your riding isn't quite what it used to be and any imbalances or stiffness you have right now is affecting him.

                  (Just throwing that idea out there - you may have tried having someone else ride him already....)
                  Visit us at Bluebonnet Equine Humane Society - www.bluebonnetequine.org

                  Want to get involved in rescue or start your own? Check out How to Start a Horse Rescue - www.howtostartarescue.com


                  • Original Poster

                    No nobody else has ridden him. Never thought of that. I have a few friends that have always wanted to ride but never asked. They told me that when he first got hurt and we all thought that his riding career was over. I tend to let my left foot float in the stirrup when I ride now. I noticed about 6 months ago when we were moving some cows. I have not missed as much riding as Snow has. I had to change to a different cow horse once my ankle healed.
                    I'm so busy.....I don't know if I found a rope or lost my horse.

                    Alright put your big girl panties on and deal with it!


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by my buddy's blue View Post
                      No nobody else has ridden him. Never thought of that. I have a few friends that have always wanted to ride but never asked.
                      I thought of it because I recently learned how -I- was making one of my horses misbehave/have trouble. Once I figured it out, then at least I can work on fixing it.
                      Visit us at Bluebonnet Equine Humane Society - www.bluebonnetequine.org

                      Want to get involved in rescue or start your own? Check out How to Start a Horse Rescue - www.howtostartarescue.com


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by my buddy's blue View Post
                        I tend to let my left foot float in the stirrup when I ride now.
                        Your horse could well be trying to compensate for your change in balance.

                        Way back in the 60s, I showed a little mare in western pleasure for a woman who was pretty much paralyzed on her left side due to polio. She did show occasionally but required a seat belt on her saddle to stay aboard! That mare, who was wonderful by the way, quickly adapted to her limited left side and only the very slightest hint of pressure on that side would produce results, such as loping to the right. I had to be VERY careful not to over-cue on that side!

                        As has been suggested, you could also try a ride after administering some bute to see whether any pain/discomfort issues are in play.


                        • Original Poster

                          So my friend came out this afternoon and rode. She was really excited. On both accounts, a chance to play with him and the fact that he is back in the game. He would start to break down on corners and if she ever leaned forward. Then we put him up and I got her to watch me ride my cow pony. She said that after a few minutes of loping I would lean forward, of course it does not bother Ginger, no injuries there. So it is a combo of weak muscles and a loss of balance for me that I did not notice. Michelle is going to come out just be a ground person for a while so I hope it will help. Of course, I won't get to ride tomorrow, have to work. Thanks for all of the great ideas. I have my fingers crossed that he and I will make it back to the show ring one day.
                          I'm so busy.....I don't know if I found a rope or lost my horse.

                          Alright put your big girl panties on and deal with it!