How do I get him to reach in the canter? - The Horse Forum

 
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post #1 of 7 Old 09-03-2011, 02:02 PM Thread Starter
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How do I get him to reach in the canter?

We've come a long way from the horse that couldn't trot more than a few insane strides. Next spring I would like to move up to Novice, but I know our dressage is really holding us back... I'd really like to be back in the low 30s high 20s... that was fun.

Biggest challenge is still the canter. We are finally on our hind quarters, cantering very up hill and light. It's like his feet barely pat the ground. =) However, his head is still in my face and neck hollow, so I suspect we're not really working correctly. Unless I use a Kimberwhick I don't get that rounded feeling. He is however very light in the mouth and has nice upward and downward transitions and can extend and collect the canter to some degree. He reaches beautifully for the bit at the walk and trot, but up snaps the head in the canter. Any ideas on exercises? Or maybe what I am doing wrong?
My trainer has me doing a lot of circles and lateral work. Looking at the one picture, I'm hoping I'm not leaning like that all the time. Eep.
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If your horse says no, you either asked the wrong question or asked the question wrong

And God took a handful of southerly wind, blew His breath over it and created the horse
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post #2 of 7 Old 09-03-2011, 03:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MudPaint View Post
However, his head is still in my face and neck hollow, so I suspect we're not really working correctly. .
No he is not working correctly.


I am sure Anebel or Maura will be able to help. PM them if they don't see this thread.
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post #3 of 7 Old 09-03-2011, 04:25 PM
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Originally Posted by Spyder View Post
No he is not working correctly.


I am sure Anebel or Maura will be able to help. PM them if they don't see this thread.
C'mon, Spyder! You can help too (if you'd want)!

Painty, I agree with Spyder. First let me ask (no offense please!) does his saddle fit him? And how bouncy are you on canter? The reason I ask your horse doesn't have very happy expression when you cue him for canter. Does your trainer ride him? Does he behave the same? What does the trainer say if so?

I'm not the trainer to really suggest on how to "fix" it, but... What I do is establish nice rhythmic trot (with my horse being on bit) on 20m circle, and when I feel she's relaxed and bent I ask her for canter with my inside leg. No fuss, no me getting nervous. If she speeds up I slow her down again till we again have nice trot, and ask again. And when I started to work with her on canter I immediately did half halt (in fact quite pronounced) when she changes the gait to re-balance her and remind her "hey, please stay on canter as you do on trot". Now as we progress more with canter work she doesn't really need that reminder, so I'm much more light on my cue.

"Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass: it's about learning to dance in the rain..."

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post #4 of 7 Old 09-07-2011, 06:31 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by kitten_Val View Post

I'm not the trainer to really suggest on how to "fix" it, but... What I do is establish nice rhythmic trot (with my horse being on bit) on 20m circle, and when I feel she's relaxed and bent I ask her for canter with my inside leg. No fuss, no me getting nervous. If she speeds up I slow her down again till we again have nice trot, and ask again. And when I started to work with her on canter I immediately did half halt (in fact quite pronounced) when she changes the gait to re-balance her and remind her "hey, please stay on canter as you do on trot". Now as we progress more with canter work she doesn't really need that reminder, so I'm much more light on my cue.
I've done this a lot, especially back when he was rushing into the canter. At that point I was concentrating on quality transition, I'll try going back and work on him staying more relaxed through the neck/jaw, if that's possible.

His saddle fits well, Originally I had to have a second pad, but now that he's muscled out, it fits well with a normal pad. He does adopt a cranky face when he's cantering, especially in a group setting. When I work on circles and lateral work he relaxes more and has the "concentrating on the rider" look. Unless he's jumping, those ears don't really point forward.

His canter can be bouncy if he's really tense, at which point I rise into two point and go back to trot work. Usually I try to sit really light. The lighter I sit, the lighter he canters.

My trainer does not ride him (no longer able to ride). I am trying to find a trainer that would be able to get on if we're not getting something, but I have yet to find one.

If your horse says no, you either asked the wrong question or asked the question wrong

And God took a handful of southerly wind, blew His breath over it and created the horse
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post #5 of 7 Old 09-08-2011, 10:28 AM
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Originally Posted by MudPaint View Post
I've done this a lot, especially back when he was rushing into the canter. At that point I was concentrating on quality transition, I'll try going back and work on him staying more relaxed through the neck/jaw, if that's possible.
I wonder how balanced his trot is. I had similar problem with my paint rushing into the canter, and I can physically feel how much better the transition is when she gives me her jaw. :) It IS possible to relax him, but sounds like it may take lots of time and patience on your side. I'd do lots of circles and bending on trot to the point you can feel the horse gives you and wraps around your leg. BTW, I'm in same boat - my instructor has a bad back, so in over a year she got on just one of my horses once (to feel her). In any case I wish you best luck!

"Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass: it's about learning to dance in the rain..."

"When we are no longer able to change a situation - we are challenged to change ourselves."

"How people treat you is their karma; how you react is yours."
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post #6 of 7 Old 09-08-2011, 04:42 PM
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My horse is of a similar build, I think, and she's taking a long time to work out the canter too!

What has helped:

Equipment: a sheepskin half-pad, a new saddle that sits higher over the withers. She's quite sensitive wither-wise, I think. You say your saddle fits well, but I think you might try setting the saddle a wee bit further back. He might be fussy around the withers too.

Riding: I was told by a prominant judge/clinician that bceause my horse is a mare, "you can't tell her anything!" and to learn how to ride the canter to keep her happy. In general, especially at this stage, I fully agree-- so if he likes you sitting light, I'd keep that, and only gradually teach him it's okay for you take a deeper seat.

An exercise that made a difference: the bow tie, which is a sort of flat figure-8 along the fence. You trot the round parts, canter the straight parts, don't worry about leads, worry about getting back down to the trot for the loops. Anyway, it got her anticipating the canter, which was great (she tended to balk-and-buck) and actually enjoyed the routine. The exercise was told me by a barrel racer, as an exercise to SLOW a horse down, so you might try it.

I'm happy to say the canter itself is not the issue any more, we're working on staying through, round, and have begun doing all the exercises we've been doing at walk and trot.
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post #7 of 7 Old 09-08-2011, 06:55 PM Thread Starter
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Kitten_val-- His trot is really well balanced, now. It has taken a lot of time to 1) get him to trot forward 2) not fall over on turns. We've been doing a lot of circles, serpintines, transitions, leg yields, extension.... His trot is really coming along. I still have to actively ride every stride, but it's so much better than the choppy/balky trot he came with. He loves to stretch down and takes any opportunity to do so. Our remarks on tests are that he's very lose through his back, groundcovering, and nice bend/balance..... then we get to the canter... haha, *sighs*

Beling, I'll take a look at the saddle, I think it's sitting in the right place for him, but I could be wrong. I'm afraid that if I move it back then the pommel will push down into his whithers. Though now that he has muscle, that may not happen. I am very familiar with the bow-tie exercise. However, I don't need to slow the canter, I need to soften it, well his neck/jaw. But it's all connected so I'll see if there isn't something in the exercise that helps.

If your horse says no, you either asked the wrong question or asked the question wrong

And God took a handful of southerly wind, blew His breath over it and created the horse
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