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Lifting the Canter?

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  • Lifting the Canter?

    One horse that I've been riding is a delight in walk, jog, and even can pick it up for a nice trot. I think she had been somebody's WP horse at some point in her past.

    The one gait she completely stinks at is the canter. To me, it feels like she's cantering on her knees -- her nose goes to the ground, she gets extremely heavy on the forehand, and gives me not much of anything to sit on. I swear, it feels like if it wasn't for the saddle, I'd go sliding up over her withers and down her neck!

    Anything I can do to encourage her to either carry herself more uphill or to at least level out? I feel like I'm one step from a wreck on her! Is there something with her legs that I should be looking at that might cause this sort of thing -- she's very smooth otherwise, so I can't imagine it's pain.

  • #2
    How does she carry her head and neck for the walk and jog. You might have to pick her up there first.

    This mare will need a lot of strength training to change her way of going.
    Ride like you mean it.


    • Original Poster

      She a QH -- has a typical stock horse head/neck carriage at standing still/walk/trot, but not a peanut roller set -- her poll is carried above her withers. She's always "lifted up" at the poll when I move her out at a faster posting trot, so I know she doesn't have the fixed mindset of her head "must be low(er)."

      Even when I ride her in a snaffle, she's very easy in the mouth, never pulls or tries to root at a walk/trot.


      • #4
        And cantering on the lunge? Does she still want to drop it? Trying to get a visual and an idea of what is causing this.

        I would have a chiropractor go over her from head to toe. Even tho she's smooth, there may be something she's compensating for...something in the lope that she can't do with her head up; that having it down gives her the leverage she needs to move.

        Loping requires a 'jump' that the trot and walk doesn't.
        Ride like you mean it.


        • #5
          So if I have this correct - w/t = normal relaxed head carriage, lope = peanut roller?

          Have you taken any video of it to see just how low it actually is?


          • #6
            Originally posted by OneGrayPony View Post
            So if I have this correct - w/t = normal relaxed head carriage, lope = peanut roller?

            Have you taken any video of it to see just how low it actually is?
            I agree with that idea; sometimes it feels different than it looks. My APHA mare rides like that sometimes (and sometimes like a llama with her head in your lap...always fun to mix it up). To me it feels very low, but when I watch video or see pictures it never looks as bad as I think.

            But I did try a horse once that felt like what you're describing. I did not like it at all; I was very worried about sailing over his head!

            Assuming no soundness issues, it might be how she was trained to go? What kind of bit are you riding her in (you mention a snaffle but wasn't sure that was what you were always using). I will be curious to hear what others suggest - maybe work on trot/canter & w/c transitions?


            • Original Poster

              Thanks for the photo suggestion -- I'll see what I can do.

              I have watched her canter with other riders aboard, and it does look (to me anyway) that she wants to put her head down instead of at least carry it level.

              Besides the snaffle, she also goes in a jointed curb like this (I personally hate that type of bit, but she goes without issue in it) -- I neck rein her when/if I ride her with that bit, otherwise with the snaffle, I direct rein. She's agreeable with either.

              I really have no idea how she was trained to go -- she's about 14 or so, was purchased by a friend of mine a few years back, then was sold to the BOs when said friend no longer had time for her (wanted to concentrate on her younger horse). I've just been riding this mare in lessons since I sold my gelding. She picks a canter up without difficulties and does get the proper lead, it's just the canter itself feels like she's going down a steep hill and very disconcerting.


              • #8
                A little counter canter work will help get her to balance herself instead of expecting you to do it for her. Horses will usually regress into what is easy, and even horses with quite a bit of training in them will look to do what is easy if not given little refreshers on a regular basis. Even if she is trained to go on a drape, you can't always ride her like that, she will benefit from some direct rein contact to help her balance herself.
                Man plans. God laughs.