Gem can canter just fine although she tends to fall on the forehand when she gets tired. In fact she prefers to canter over trot and I know she isn't in any pain. About a year ago when we started working on the canter transition more, I noticed that she would cow kick and attempt to buck a little (which she is hysterically bad at) when I would bring my outside leg back and ask her to canter. She would canter and pick up the correct lead, but she would always fuss and become VERY tense. At the time I decided that since I do not show and we mostly work on flatwork in the arena, small (2ft max) jumps at the trot and trail riding, that how she got the canter wasn't so important. She will pick up the canter by voice command, me shifting my weight every so faintly forward and giving with my hands and as long as I have her on the correct bend she picks up the correct lead.
Well, tonight I decided to ask the normal way again and see what would happen. We have done a lot of work within the canter itself over the last year as well as building trust (she definitely has trust issues and I am finally breaking through all of her walls). Well, she still throws a fit when I bring my leg back on either side although the left is worse versus the right. Again, she will pick up and continue the canter, but she crow kicks and does a tiny hop. I then stopped her, made her stand still and gently worked my heel back and rubbed her side without letting her move forward. She didn't flinch. I am not kicking or even tapping her when I ask, just a lgiht pressure. I use my legs to push her out to the rail all the time or to help her bend and she never has a problem. My biggest concern is how tense she gets - head up, neck tight as a drum, ears back, trotting a million miles an hour. It took 10 minutes of trotting and some walking to get her to calm down before I tried again and it was the same response.
So my 2 part question -
Is this something to even bother with or should I let this pass since she canters on cue in other ways smoothly and without a fuss?
If so, how can I work with this? She deosn't mind the pressure by hand on the ground, at a walk or trot when asking her to move over. Just asking for the canter. I am more confident now and can ride her out, but hate how tense she gets and how unhappy she is.
Thank you very much for anya dvice you can provide!