Cantering advice, specifically getting a prompt canter pickup
   

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Cantering advice, specifically getting a prompt canter pickup

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    11-06-2013, 10:36 AM
  #1
Weanling
Cantering advice, specifically getting a prompt canter pickup

Hi, sorry for the long post!

I've been dedicating some time to work on my Phoenix's canter. It's bad, always has been.

So a tiny bit of back ground so you know where i'm coming from; he's 12, one of his hips sits just a hair higher than the other, he gets regular chiropractic treatment to help with any discomfort and movement issues he has from this problem. He cross cantered badly in the past and still does occasionally going clockwise (his right hip is the higher one), and he has come a long way from the horse I thought would never be able to canter properly.

Anyway, so over the past few months i've been working on getting him to canter consistently both from the ground and under saddle. When doing round pen work he canters pretty well, picks up the canter when I ask. He didn't used to, he would speed up at the trot and rush headlong into the canter by basically throwing himself at it and hoping he came out the other end. After asking again and again and telling him to slow down and try again he's finally getting it. Oddly he's brilliant with voice commands, at the trot he'll slow or speed up from voice commands so I can ask him to slow and then ask for the canter and he'll do it from a slow trot! We've been working on it for ages so that fact he can do it now makes me very happy.

What I need advice on is how to transfer this great progress on the ground into the saddle.

I've been working in the round pen as he finds it easier to pick the canter up on a circle (and I find it easier when I don't have to worry about him skipping out of the circle); I plan to move to the bigger arena once i've got him cantering promptly from my cues and then to work on keeping it all calm and prompt in the arena.

So what i've been doing when i'm riding is using my voice commands and backing it up with my outside leg to ask for the canter, bu only when he's trotting slowly (i hate the rushing). Going counter clockwise I feel like he's getting it and improving but in the saddle going clockwise it's still awful. He pulls and rushes at the trot, and when I ask for canter both voice and leg he either ignores it or gets all strung out and goes back to throwing himself at it and hoping for the best.

I'm getting a bit frustrated and i'm not sure what to do to help or correct this rushing behaviour. Can anyone suggest either some exercises or advice?

If he goes at the canter from a slow trot he feels a lot more together and it really helps stop the urge he has to cross caner, but from the rushed strung out trot it's almost like his legs flail. My instructor (who I will get back soon when my money issues resolve themselves) suggested doing lots of leg yielding to help build his hip muscles up so he could get into the canter easier and we do this too.
     
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    11-06-2013, 11:34 PM
  #2
Started
First, congrats on all the hard work you have put into your horse! He sounds like he's come a long way from where he was, and I am happy to hear that you put so much focus on his body and condition and chiro work. *applause!*

That said, you'll get better transitions from more trot work. Canter transitions rely heavily on the muscles you build from the trot, and I spent the entire first year I had my one OTTB just trotting and when he did finally canter, it was balanced and smooth and easy. I'm not saying that you need to go to that extreme, but one of the best ways to even out the horse's movement even when dealing with physical limitations, is to focus on trot work.

If you have hills, you can do that at the trot (up and down, but be sure the horse is using his back and hind and not lumbering along on the fore). You can also change directions as well as diagonals every several strides and every time you change diagonal, feel how your horse reacts (you can change diagonal without changing direction to help the horse stride through evenly behind). Once the horse is the same without changing/bobbling his gait when you change back and forth between diagonals on the straight without changing direction, that will indicate he is much stronger.

By focusing on the trot, and trot - walk - trot transitions, you can feel his strength increase without the stress of the canter which will stress the hips that are uneven. As he gets stronger, gradually reintroduce canter transitions under saddle (from walk or trot is fine) and work on keeping your queues accurate as well as precise. Accurate in that they are the exact, correct queues, and precise in the timing with which they are applied. That will help the horse balance himself and use the muscles he's built at the trot to get a much better, cleaner canter depart.

Good luck, and I hope this helps! Keep us posted on his progress!
     
    11-09-2013, 02:32 PM
  #3
Weanling
Quote:
Originally Posted by CJ82Sky    
First, congrats on all the hard work you have put into your horse! He sounds like he's come a long way from where he was, and I am happy to hear that you put so much focus on his body and condition and chiro work. *applause!*

That said, you'll get better transitions from more trot work. Canter transitions rely heavily on the muscles you build from the trot, and I spent the entire first year I had my one OTTB just trotting and when he did finally canter, it was balanced and smooth and easy. I'm not saying that you need to go to that extreme, but one of the best ways to even out the horse's movement even when dealing with physical limitations, is to focus on trot work.

If you have hills, you can do that at the trot (up and down, but be sure the horse is using his back and hind and not lumbering along on the fore). You can also change directions as well as diagonals every several strides and every time you change diagonal, feel how your horse reacts (you can change diagonal without changing direction to help the horse stride through evenly behind). Once the horse is the same without changing/bobbling his gait when you change back and forth between diagonals on the straight without changing direction, that will indicate he is much stronger.

By focusing on the trot, and trot - walk - trot transitions, you can feel his strength increase without the stress of the canter which will stress the hips that are uneven. As he gets stronger, gradually reintroduce canter transitions under saddle (from walk or trot is fine) and work on keeping your queues accurate as well as precise. Accurate in that they are the exact, correct queues, and precise in the timing with which they are applied. That will help the horse balance himself and use the muscles he's built at the trot to get a much better, cleaner canter depart.

Good luck, and I hope this helps! Keep us posted on his progress!
Thanks! I like to be comfortable when I move so he should be as comfortable as he can be when he moves.

Thanks for the advice, I'll be sure to so lots of trot transitions and put more effort into that for a while.

We have slight inclines on trail and I can try and incorporate more trotting on the inclines instead of just walking them.

Could you explain changing the diagonal without changing direction?

I did half and hour of walk trot work today and then 10 minutes or so of canter work at the end. I'm trying to do no stirrup November so I think the trot work was harder on me than him and I'm feeling it now I've sat down :/. Having said that, when I asked for the counter clockwise canter the depart was instant, I was so surprised, all the trot work must have loosened him up. I prepped him for the transition and as soon as I asked me picked up the canter and it was fairly smooth and just a joy; the clockwise was less so but I don't expect that way will come along as quickly.
     
    11-13-2013, 03:06 PM
  #4
Started
Sure - change your posting diagonal (sit a bounce) but keep going in the same direction. Good luck - sounds like you are on the right track!
     
    11-13-2013, 07:04 PM
  #5
Weanling
I thought you might mean that but wasn't sure. Thanks. :)
     
    11-19-2013, 09:47 PM
  #6
Started
So how is it going?
     
    11-19-2013, 10:04 PM
  #7
Weanling
Hi,

Really well actually. I rode on Saturday and retested him on his basics and at first he was a bit snotty about it but I cd I got after him he did great. We did loads of trot work, he was so sweaty by the time we were done. I've actually noticed he seems to be building muscle in his hind end which I'm taking as a good sign since he always looks really skinny back there.

His canter is much better counter clockwise, he's picking it up as soon as I ask and not running at it or refusing to go. Clockwise is still a bit hit and miss, he still runs at it and throws himself into it, or trots really fast and cuts corners. I'm working on keeping him slower at the trot and doing lots of circle work at the walk and trot to stop him dropping his inside shoulder. He's also super responsive and leg yielding at walk and trot which is nice and even gave me a clumsy turn on the haunches at the weekend which was a surprise.
     

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