I wanna work harder! - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 12 Old 01-21-2013, 03:34 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Sep 2011
Location: Germany- but not German =D
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I wanna work harder!


I love my little man, he is a star.

He isn't in a huge amount of work. I ride him maybe 3-4 times a week, and the other days are a mix of lunging, free schooling or groundwork.

For his age, and fitness, he is a very very well behaved young horse. Maybe I just jinxed myself

Recently under saddle, we have been working on moving away from leg pressure. Anebel will tell you all, I had an awful habit of supporting him for every single step. It doesn't happen any more, and I just think walk, trot, canter and he does it. Very happy.

But recently, the little booger has decided he REALLY likes canter.
And all of a sudden, we will be on the long side, or on a serpentine.. and he will pop in to a lovely, rocking canter.

I haven't been able to speak to my trainer all that much recently, but she caught sight of him and was in stitches. Said lovely collected canter.. slightly above what we want from him!

Little booger.

Any tips to help? I can ask him for more long and low, and forward, or a slower working trot and he pops in to it whenever. As far as I am aware there is nothing I am doing to signal him in to it.

Teeth were done last month, saddle is recently fitted and back is super.

He is really, really enjoying his work.. maybe a bit too much
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post #2 of 12 Old 01-21-2013, 03:59 AM
Join Date: Apr 2011
Location: Riga, Latvia
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I don't have much to suggest as you are a far more experienced rider than I am, but my guy is just like that. As soon as he discovered balance in canter, he is eager to offer it anytime. Tack fit, back, teeth, health checked and everything is ok, he apparently just loves cantering and enjoys himself so much in it! I try to use it as a good starting point for impulsion and learning to extend the trot, and am always happy for him being so joyful and full of energy. :) Your boy sounds like a wonderful ride - congrats on having him! :)

I have come a long way, to surrender my shadow to the shadow of my horse.
/James Wright/
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post #3 of 12 Old 01-21-2013, 04:06 AM
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Unfortunatly I cant suggest anything as Reeco is also in love with canter at the moment, he used to hate it, got his legs in a knot and paniced, now I cant get him to come down to trot if he pops into a canter. If I find anything that works I'll let you know!

RIDE your horse FORWARDS and keep him STRAIGHT

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post #4 of 12 Old 01-21-2013, 05:30 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Sep 2011
Location: Germany- but not German =D
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Thanks Saranda! He is a complete star.. I grin like a mad man when I ride him.. so much so, that I had grime on my teeth from the dust yesterday ;D

You and I should get a manual together Faye aha! He is so so balanced, he adores it. One ear forward, one ear on me. Actually.. he did try and break free and do whacky races with my dad's mare who started at the other side of the school, I pushed him on to a circle and made him carry on- dad had to stop his horse, Dubai on the other hand sulked he couldn't play, then carried on.

I went on the theory that if I kept it, made him work, and then when he wanted to stop, make him work a bit longer so he knows that I say when is when would work.. after lap 5 of the school in the canter, he tried, I nudged him on... and he quite happily carried on. -.-"

Don't get me wrong, I am VERY happy that he is an eager beaver, especially as it could be completely different.. but sometimes it is not the right time to canter xD

Maybe I could teach him dressage tests so I just sit there...
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post #5 of 12 Old 01-21-2013, 05:42 AM
Join Date: Aug 2009
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Haven't seen any pics of him on Facebook in while. :)

If I were you, I'd first make sure I wasn't accidentally cuing him by absentmindedly swinging my lower leg. Then, every time he broke into the canter of his own accord, I'd quietly take him back to trot and praise him. Every single time.
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post #6 of 12 Old 01-21-2013, 05:45 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Sep 2011
Location: Germany- but not German =D
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Had to tidy up my friends list on FB.. will PM you :(

That is what I thought! So I was being very careful... will have another check when I ride him tomorrow.

Oh he gets praises and scratches for everything.. oh.. maybe he is doing on purpose for a scratch xD

He gets a 'Fine boy' and a scratch on the neck under the saddle, and vocal on the lunge.
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post #7 of 12 Old 01-21-2013, 05:54 AM
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You want the horse to want to canter, of course, but you also need it to be clear to him that he does the gait you want him to do when you want him to do it. If you say, "How nice! This is a lovely canter that I didn't ask for" and praise him and let him do it anyway, I think that clarity is lost. Especially for a youngster, who is just learning what is expected of him.
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post #8 of 12 Old 01-21-2013, 05:58 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Sep 2011
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Sorry, should have clarified.

I don't praise and reward unwanted behaviour.. on the floor or under saddle. Once I achieve that trot when I have asked for it, he is rewarded for listening to my aids and coming back down.

If he canters without being asked, then I bring him back as soon as I can. Sometimes he gets a bit.. carried away in rocking horse mode.
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post #9 of 12 Old 01-21-2013, 08:40 AM
Join Date: Oct 2011
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I've found that the reasons the horse picks up the canter (vs trot) can have some different origins. It could be tension issues, loss of balance, or confusion about the aid.

If it's loss of balance in the horse, then rule out rider balance first. Make sure you're sitting evenly on both seat bones, one leg isn't cueing strong than the other, and your upper body is staying aligned with your hips (not drifting left or right). Develop your feel for where your seat bones are by practicing on a hard seated chair at home. Place your hands under your seat bones if you have a difficult time feeling them in the chair (don't do that on horse's back). Shift your weight slightly to either side and feel how that changed the pressure on your seat bones.

If it's not the rider...

You could try over-exaggerating the posting movement when asking for the trot (use less leg). Even if the horse picks up the canter, keep the posting rhythm, drop the horse back into trot, and keep posting as if the canter didn't happen (steady, even tempo/rhythm to your posting).

Tension can cause the horse to pick up a canter over a trot. It might be best at that point to drop down to something simple that will force the horse to loosen it's ribcage and release the tension. For instance, instead of asking for the trot on a straight line, put the horse on a 15 meter circle and leg yield the horse out to 20m. When you hit the 20m point, ask for the trot. Or just work some bending lines for short while and then try again. You can also try the rubber band exercise at a trot on a 20 meter circle. Ask the horse to lengthen for a quarter of the circle (or half), then back to working trot, forward again, back to working trot. This works IF the issue is mostly due to tension... I'm not convinced that your horse is having tension issues that would cause this scenario.

It seems like (from your description) that your horse is dictating the speed and gait. What you will need to teach him is to wait for you. I would work more on varying your lines of travel, varying the gaits, varying the speed. For instance, prior to asking for the trot I would work a serpentine figure from wall to quarter line down the length of the arena (as many loops as I can comfortable fit in), then a small circle in the corner of the arena. Just as I'm approaching the wall at the end of the circle then I would ask for the trot. The wall acts like a mental half-halt for the horse. Once we strike off (in whatever gait), then we have to make the corner turn to the short side of the arena. It forces the horse to pay attention to his own balance and speed. If the horse is cantering, I will immediately bring the horse back to a trot, and start as small a circle as we can just barely do comfortably. I want to put the horse into situations where he has to listen to what I'm asking with my body (not by pulling with the reins).

For your horse, I would work every session with the idea of creating situations in which the horse will have to listen to your seat. Right now, your horse thinks he's calling the shots. He's not waiting for you, and he's not listening to you (assuming you're seat and leg aids are correct). Do everything you can think of to keep the horse wondering what's going to happen next. Lots of random figures, circles, serpentine's, transitions within the gait, etc. If you always canter at a certain point in your workouts (canter after doing trot one direction), then mix it up more. Or only ask for a few strides of canter, back to trot, a few strides of canter, back to trot. Mix it up a lot. Be creative about it. Keep the horse wondering what you're going to ask for next. Use the walls and corners of the arena to create mental half-halts. Use long sides to create the idea of forward. Use every inch of that arena in one session. Pretend the arena was freshly drug, no hoof prints anywhere... when you're done with your ride, there shouldn't be one inch that doesn't have a hoof print on it.

While you're doing all of that, keep thinking about bending the horse through the rib cage. Ride the body of the horse, not the head.
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post #10 of 12 Old 01-23-2013, 12:29 PM
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Lol, that's a totally normal thing. When he does it, just continue with whatever you were doing. If it's serpentines, well then I guess he might try counter canter, but chances are he'll fall out of the canter. If it's leg yields, well that's probably pretty tough too so he'll come back to trot.
Keep asking for trot with your seat (and NOT by exaggerating your posting as suggested previously) just keep the hips in a rhythmical 1-2-1-2 and then do a leg yield or change direction or do something that you aren't asking him to canter through at this point in the training. Don't pull back, don't haul him up into the trot, just let him figure out that stuff is way harder in the canter and that he needs to just keep trotting until he's asked for canter.
It really is not a big deal, every horse I've ever dealt with has done it. It's a really common thing for horses to do right around that first level mark (or FEI 4 y/o). Once they are starting collection and into that second level (so in the fall for you when he is coming 5) they are on the aids enough to (we hope) not "oops" every aid for canter.

Good luck!

They say money doesn't buy happiness -- well happiness doesn't buy horses!
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