I hear the same questions answered quite a bit on hear but was wondering if you could help me out with a problem I haven't seen mentioned a ton.
My gelding is young and obviously not going to have the strength or training to make great turns. I am not trying to push him past a slow canter but he has a lot of trouble getting around that first barrel and keeping his canter. When I first started him on barrels he could get around the first pretty good but was just throwing his shoulder at it. It was just a matter of time before he started hitting the barrel and after I bruised the hell out of my shin I decided to tackle that issue and really focused on keeping his shoulder up. He is no longer diving but its like halfway through his turn I feel him loose his hind end (in almost feels like he steps in a hole with his hind legs), takes the turn wide, and often drops to the trot for a few steps.
I thought, O.K. This is a horse without the strength to get through this turn (he really has no problems to the right getting around the barrels fairly tight and without breaking). So I have spent the last month using my dressage background to strengthen his hind end. Lots of transitions on the lounge line with side riens. Under saddle I have been doing spiraling exercises, tons of every kind of transition (canter-walk, canter-trot, canter-halt), lengthening the stride in the canter and shortening the stride in the canter, making square turns in the cater, etc. I am actually kind of amazed at his improvement. He has slowed way down taking shorter, more balanced strides. He is able to pick up either lead I ask on a straight line 100% of the time (before it was about 50% of the time for the left lead). He can canter from the walk both directions (before he was unable to canter from the walk at all to the left and only once in awhile to the right). He is pretty darn good to the left and to the right he reminds me a lot of my old dressage horse - he can canter slow and upright and probably is close to being ready to learn canter pirouettes. Anyway, this was so great and I went back to barrels for the first time in a month and a half yesterday and did tons of rate work, trying to get him to slow down and get back on those hind quarters around the turn. He did amazing, so bendable in the trot, happy to canter in between and walk/trot the barrels. I decided to canter him a few times through the pattern at the end and he still is having issues with that first barrel. I just don't know what else I can do to fix this problem and was hoping you guys have input
I will try and get a video this week but any advice for my next practice?
Here is an old video in the mean time:
Leo - YouTube
His canter has improved since but as you can see it wasn't too terrible. The biggest issue in this video is his cross firing, he is getting MUCH better with this issue and I think its just a young horse figuring out balance in a tight turn, he never cross fires away from the barrel pattern. Also you can see his turns to the left are BIG, this was my attempt to not let him drop that shoulder - unfortunately it lead to a giant turn. And although it feels worse now, even his turns to the left in this video have that "loosing his hind-end" feeling and I am pushing him to keep him going through the turn. I can't really see anything that looks like he is slipping or getting off balance, can you?
(And don't make fun of my chicken-wing arms - I was pretty embarrassed when I watched the video and saw I was trying to fly off my horses back ;) - also am working on less rocking, its my instinct to try and help him keep his canter going I guess)