Schooling Level 1, issue cantering 15m circles - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 12 Old 10-31-2011, 10:37 AM Thread Starter
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Question Schooling Level 1, issue cantering 15m circles

It's been a while since I was here, life is so chaotic. Cinny has been doing very very well these days. I'm still thinking of showing him Intro and Training levels next year but I have been schooling him level 1 because I think he may be ready for it by next season which starts in March. He is going onto the bit and using his hind in a LOT more now. I can really tell the difference when he's using himself properly and when he's not. Also, he used WANT to canter non stop for a million years and now that he's using his back and rear end muscles he didn't use before, he gets tired after a few times around the arena.

Now that we have our nice, collected, butt using canter (which feels wonderful I must add), I am trying to school him on those dang 15m circles. Well, he hates them. I'm talking ear pinning, teeth gritting and if I don't pay attention to that, he gives me a sideways buck.

What I have tried:

1) lunge line work with side reins starting the canter at the whole length of my line and then slowly bringing him in until he looks like he is having to really work for it, leave him for a full circle and then let him slowly spiral back out.

2) same thing with riding, start with 20m and slowly work into 15, try to do one complete circle and then go back out.

He doesn't buck it on the lunge, but he does under saddle. Is there something I could be missing, or am I just really being too impatient and need to give him more time? Generally speaking, how long does it usually take for a horse to develop from 20M to 15m in a canter? We've been trying the 15m circles every other day (I don't work the same things every day) for about 2 months.

Cinny is APHA with a typical QH body. He occasionally has issues with his sacroiliac joint stiffening which is controlled with Chiro and "Fluid Action" powder. I always do a LOT of stretching and warming up of his hips before every workout including full turns on fore about 3-4 times each direction as well as a LOT of lateral movements and backing in circles to make sure he's loosened up before working him on his canter circles.
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post #2 of 12 Old 10-31-2011, 11:22 AM
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If you're telling us he's tired quickly he maybe doesn't have the muscle build up, and is bucking to let you know he's not ready.

I would suggest keep on working on the lunging, and cantering on a circle, decreasing the size slowly, then increase the size.

It'll be a muscle build up, keep up with it, and keep practising, are you sat to the inside enough, keeping his trunk 'up' and 'straight' with your inside leg? Are you dropping your inside shoulder too much?

These are all things to think about, but I would work in walk and trot in 15m circles, flexing to the inside, and the outside so he's supple in his poll, neck and back.
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post #3 of 12 Old 10-31-2011, 11:59 AM Thread Starter
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Thank you Duffy, I do know I have a BIG issue dropping my inside shoulder and I have to constantly conscious of it. We actually walk and trot 10m circles with no problem and sometimes even smaller, he even perks his ears and actually seems to enjoy them as well as super tight serpentines, at the trot. This is why I started working the canter at 15. Canter seems to be an entirely different animal with him and has been a source of anxiety for him since I bought him, even on the straight. By anxiety I mean, teeth grinding, ears pinning and wringing his tail.

Maybe it's just patience. If anybody knows of some exercises to help strengthen him, I would love it. I just want him to be happy and comfortable with what we do.
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post #4 of 12 Old 10-31-2011, 12:06 PM
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Hmmm, I probably wouldn't bother with the side reins at his stage of training, he needs to find his center of balance without interference. Of course while they are on he may take the appearance of having a nice 'frame' but it really is not what you are after. Also, green horses will sometimes use them to balance themselves and then you will run into problems with weight distribution.

I think the salient point here is that he objects under saddle but not on the lunge, makes me wonder (in a non-judgemental way) what you are doing in the saddle, I remember from a while back that you had your saddle fitted to him. How solid is your position, is it possible that you are a little too far forward/backwards? Even something as seemingly insignificant as not keeping your head up can interefere with your horses balance. If you tip your head forwards or are looking down they YOUR center of gravity is off and the horse will feel it and may object.

Lastly, I wonder if he just needs more conditioning. Cantering a balanced 15m circle is very difficult for any horse, regardless of breed and takes a lot of of training for them to be able to execute nicely. I wouldn't suggest doing too much canter work on the 15m circle, rather I would try lots of walk-trot transitional work on the circle and on the bends of serpentines.

Give him a few months of strengthening and gradually ask for the canter. When you introduce it, don't ask for a full 15m circle, maybe do half, continue, transition to trot and change rein, ask for half on the other rein, continue etc. Phase it in gradually and see if that helps.

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post #5 of 12 Old 10-31-2011, 12:54 PM
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Cinny, what about 20 meters one? Does he ride that size just fine?

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post #6 of 12 Old 10-31-2011, 01:28 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you Sarah. Yes I do think I look down when I ask because I know I'm trying to double check that he is on the correct lead, I will check myself on that one and try to quit that. He really really hates transition work (that is what we do on the days we don't work canter circles). He only wants to stay at one gait for long periods of time and not change it. In Intro C, that canter which is less than a whole 20M circle really pisses him off! He behaves like, how DARE I finally allow him to canter but them make him stop right away ha ha.

I occasionally throw in some prep work for flying changes by doing a large circle around one end of the arena, come down the center and ask for trot then ask for canter on the other lead, do a full circle, come back around, and trot/change again. Oh, he HATES this work. He anticipates me asking him to slow to trot and immediately pins his ears and wrings his tail and sometimes bucks in protest the moment I ask ha ha. He's a fireball.

Val, he does WONDERFUL 20M circles when I remember to keep my inside shoulder from dropping and keep my head up. It feels very balanced and comfortable and he usual moves in a relaxed way with his ears forward (unless anticipating that I'm going to make him transition as mentioned above).
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post #7 of 12 Old 10-31-2011, 07:09 PM
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Hmmmm so you are absolutely positive that there is no soreness issues? Issues with transitions and smaller circles in canter certainly indicated some soreness through the back. In trot it won't show up so much because he can keep his topline tight and 'fake it', but in canter his topline has to stretch and contract, and when you add a tight circle or transition into that, its understandable he'd get cranky if there was some soreness or even just tightness somewhere.

If it is not a pain/discomfort issue, the next thing I would look at is whether you are pulling him around the circle rather than pushing. It's easy to try and haul a horse around on a 10/15m circle, but you'll just land them on their inside shoulder.
Try thinking about riding a working pirouette feel when you come onto the 15m circle. Having that feel in your mind will help you to sit deeper and ride the hind legs on the circle rather than the shoulders. You can also try riding the circle more as an octogon shape, so straight sides with lots of little turns, again thinking pirouette in those turns. The more over the hinds he is, the better the circle will be. You want him in rear wheel drive, the front legs are only there to hold him up.

As for transitions, again if he's not sore, I would be riding MILLIONS of transitions every ride. Eventually, you want to aim to be able to ride only 1 or 2 canter strides at a time - THAT is having control over the hind legs in canter ;)
Just throw them in here there and everywhere, when I'm riding I try not to ride more than 12 strides at a time, at the same tempo of pace, I'm always changing things, adjusting, asking the horse a little deeper or a little higher, asking the hind legs a little quicker, maybe a little counter flexion, then some correct flexion... just shaking it up through every transition so you're not riding them dead straight every time.
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post #8 of 12 Old 10-31-2011, 07:22 PM
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Have you tried doing the canter transition from the walk? Your horse is a few steps ahead of mine. I'm still getting more protest than good useful canter strides. I've had much better luck keeping him together if I pick up the canter from the walk. Just a thought.

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post #9 of 12 Old 10-31-2011, 07:33 PM
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Trot on diagonal to canter to half circle 17 m to trot reversing direction(diagonal) to canter 17 m half circle and repeat.
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post #10 of 12 Old 10-31-2011, 07:37 PM
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Are you using too much inside rein causing him to overbend (pop that outside shoulder) and causing him to lose his balance? Are you supporting his outside shoulder with your outside leg?

Any way you can post a video showing what both of you are doing?
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