Horse Tenses Before Canter

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Horse Tenses Before Canter

This is a discussion on Horse Tenses Before Canter within the Dressage forums, part of the English Riding category
  • How to soften the horse at the canter
  • Horse jogs when pick up reins from free walk

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  • 1 Post By Clava
  • 2 Post By CLaPorte432
  • 1 Post By ~*~anebel~*~
  • 1 Post By Ninamebo
  • 1 Post By Kayty

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    10-11-2013, 12:16 PM
Horse Tenses Before Canter

So, I have a 12 Gelding. He is up to Medium class in dressage. He is a really sensitive horse. I have been having problems before I go into canter though. He would usually tense and jogs (like, really really collected trot for a few steps) whenever I would pick up the reins during walk. In my test, I would have let walk long rein and then collect him for 12 metres and canter him. He will tense up when he feels that I have shortened my reins.
He also has this problem where he would bring his butt inside kind of like a traver on the left side when I ask him for a canter. Sometimes he would drift off to the outside when I ask him for a canter without a fence.
I have World Dressage coming up soon so if anyone could give me advice, I would be really happy!
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    10-11-2013, 12:19 PM
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Saddle fit and pain spring to mind. Has the saddle / back been checked?
WhyAHorseOfCourse likes this.
    10-11-2013, 07:03 PM
Don't canter every time you shorten the reins. You have trained him that a shortened rein means faster.
Practice your free walk to medium/collected walk by riding multiple transitions between the two around the arena. He needs to learn that a short rein does not always mean faster, and thus stop anticipating a movement.

I'm more inclined to think the drifting in canter is rider error rather than horse soreness. Its a super common fault, and on a sensitive horse if your balance is off very slightly, they will start to swing. Have someone else ride him and see if they get the same problem. Also it may be worth getting a few lunge lessons in canter, with no stirrups or reins to check your seat.
    10-11-2013, 07:14 PM
Are you sure you arent tensing up...causing him to tense up? Even slight adjustments in your body can cause him to anticipate.
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Kayty and Clava like this.
    10-12-2013, 03:57 PM
Make sure your outside leg acts like a windshield wiper and not pushing the hindend in like traver. On right lead canter, put a bit more weight on your right seat bone and slide the left leg back without pressure. If you push with your left leg, it's easy for him to think traver.
    10-13-2013, 04:58 PM
If he is jigging in the collected walk he is not accepting your leg aids. If he is not cantering straight into the canter he is not accepting your leg aids.

School your walk pirouettes. In a correct way, not just swinging around. Keep in mind the rhythm #1, then the turn, not stepping out and then the feeling of the rein back to really get him to sit and step up front. I would also be working on steep leg yields (ie K-P) for a short length, with changes of direction (zig zags) in the walk. For the canter transition if your outside leg coming back is moving his haunches in - then your inside leg is too strong and your seat is not involved enough. Your outside leg should be able to come back 10 strides before the transitions (though ideally only 3 counts) with him remaining on your "wait" or "half halt" aid until your seat pushes him to canter, and stay in a shoulder fore position. As well performing correct lateral work in the trot (no yielding, no falling, no swinging) will help to supple him and get him to accept the aids. The outside leg is still back in the shoulder in - and yet the shoulders are in! Because it is a bending aid - that is all.

It sounds to me like the horse is against the aid and not supple enough. A video would be quite helpful.
lchad likes this.
    10-25-2013, 04:03 PM
My mare also likes to anticipate - suggest you spend and entire lesson going from free walk to working walk and back again - no working walk to trot/canter. That way he'll have no idea when to expect as gait faster than a walk. And don't forget to do this SEVERAL tie in warm up before competition (plus if test has free walk across long diaqgnol, to working wal to canter (trot) at "A" do NOT practice that exact pattern before the show - ask for transitions in different places.

(Also try working walk to halt/rein-back instead or to trot/canter - to mix things up.)
    10-26-2013, 05:39 PM
I think it might be a bit of you tensing before asking for the transition as well. A couple times in my earlier lessons, the second my trainer would ask for the canter, my horse would immediately tense and lose his striding. It's amazing the changes in our bodies that they can sense and feel. On top of working the free walk to working walk, when you work on the canter transition just take a deep breath before the cue to remind your body to relax into it.

Good luck!
    11-01-2013, 02:40 PM
If he's traveling with his butt in, he's not traveling straight. His shoulders need to come off the side of the ring so you can see his eyelash without just the neck bending. He's probably not understanding.

Do you know how to soften your horse? I do something I think of as sliding the bit back and forth small, light and quick, not see-saw, but see-see-saw-see-saw-saw, mix it up like that. Don't ask him to canter until you feel him soften.
    11-01-2013, 10:59 PM
Best to avoid any form of see-sawing... it may 'soften' the jaw but it teaches a horse to back off the contact and induces a false frame. Very pony club style "my horsey is on the bit".
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