cross canter

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cross canter

This is a discussion on cross canter within the English Riding forums, part of the Riding Horses category

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    11-07-2009, 01:24 PM
cross canter

When I ask for the canter, my gelding always picks up the right lead, but after a few strides he will sometimes start to cross canter. If I ask for the canter again, he will usually correct this (even without coming down to the trot) but I would like to prevent it from happening in the first place. He even does this when on a lunge line and even if he is well balanced and collected.

Important piece of information is that he has a fibrotic myopathy on is right hind which he usually warms out of but does shorten stride on that leg and I notice that he tends to cross canter on the left lead only (which I would think should be easier for him than the right but I could be wrong). He also does lovely flying lead changes but occasionally will cross canter a few strides after switching right to left lead, again asking for the proper lead gets him to correct himself.

So how do I go about fixing this problem I have had several lameness evaluations and though the fibrotic myopathy causes stiffness, none of the surgeons felt that it was painful and thus have cleared him for the level of work I do with him. Any suggestions would be very much appreciated!
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    11-08-2009, 04:46 AM
Have you had everything checked out? Maybe because of his leg his back may be sore. Check everything else out. When you know there is a certain something wrong with your horse, you tend to focus on that area. Check around him and see.

If he is only doing it on that rein, I highly doubt it is training problems. He could even be a little unbalanced or stiff on that lead, thus he starts to cross canter because it is easier. If it is not a case of being sore, then just work a little more on that rein, giving more play on your left hand and asking for more bend. If you can, try a bit of collection and extending.

Let us know how it all goes. = )
    11-08-2009, 06:33 AM
I'm for getting him checked by a chiropractor or perhaps having some bowen therapy or body work done on him. As said above, the leg may not be the issue but something else that is compensating for the leg could be.
    11-08-2009, 01:44 PM
Sorry, I should have mentioned that he was fully worked up by the surgeons and had a recent chiro appt. Basically I'm pretty sure he's not sore. We rode last night with lots of collection and it was better in circles but he still crossed when I asked for a flying change (both directions actually) I am thinking this is a problem with my balance and will try working on that. Thanks for your replies!
    11-08-2009, 03:08 PM
All horses have a stiff side. My horse who is properly musceld and sound, when not warmed up properly, tends to cross canter on the lunge on the right lead. It is a balance strength and suppleness issue. It is up to us as riders to train the muscles and strengthen them so that this is no longer an issue.
In your case, just make sure that you are thoroughly warming up and cooling down in the walk. When I ride for an hour, 20-30 minutes is in the walk. 10 minutes or more warm up and 10 minutes or more cool down plus all your walk breaks. Then in the trot start with some forward and back transitions to get him responsive to your leg and work on serpentines to get him bending around your inside leg. From there I would work on canter, when he is thoroughly stretched and warmed up. At that point in the canter, just continue correcting it until the muscles become trained to go correctly.

Good luck!
    11-09-2009, 01:50 PM
You said he pretty much only does it on the left lead. On the left lead the right hind leg is the most weight bearing and hardest working. If that is where he has his problems I would suggest talking to your trainer/vet to come up with strengthening/suppling exercises for that leg and his whole body.

It sounds like he is trying to do what you want but is struggling a bit.
    11-10-2009, 07:02 AM
I just thought of another thing. Try lunging him, and see if he still crosses on the lunge. If he does, then it is something to do with him, maybe balance issues as anebel meantioned. If he doesn't cross on the lunge, then it probably is maybe your balance.

Try that and give us the results. = )
    11-10-2009, 11:22 AM
He definitely does it on the lunge, worse actually than when I am riding him. Thanks huckleberry for the info, I guess biomechanics is not my forte but that makes a lot of sense. He is slowly getting in better shape, he was pretty underweight and not muscled when I got him so we're working on it now.

Anebel, great tips (as usual) thanks! I do a lot of work at the walk because it is his most uncomfortable gait (for me) especially until he warms properly. I have him bending pretty well at this point and as I'm getting better at riding him, he is getting softer to the aids. I like to do lots of serpentines and circles and figure 8's largely because if I keep his mind working he's a much more responsive horse, tends to bore easily. I'll start working him a bit more at the trot and less at the canter until he's got some strength back.
    11-10-2009, 12:25 PM
Hi there,
In the left lead, the foot falls are as follows...

Right hind
Left hind and right fore together
Left fore

It is called left lead because typically people are tracking left when they canter on the left lead and, more anecdotal, the left fore appears to be "leading" or stepping out further than the right fore.

The pattern of footfalls is why you get that lovely 1,2,3, 1,2,3 rhythm at the canter. But the right hind is working very hard on the left lead as at one point during each stride it is bearing all the weight and it is also responsible for a great amount of thrust/impulsion during each stride.

So if he will do it and is sound doing it, but swaps out sometimes... and since you've had extensive vet checking done.. I would just speak to your vet and trainer about it and ask them to give you specific exercises to strengthen his hind end and particularly that right hind.

Good Luck :)
    11-10-2009, 09:42 PM
Well we had two really amazing rides in a row. I took lots of time warming him up thoroughly and really had him bending around my leg. Also, he had pony friends in the arena which always makes him more forward and responsive. I tried shortening my reins (really short, much shorter than I thought would be ok) and turns out he loves to be on the bit. I had a little trouble with him cross cantering only the first time around and the whole rest of the time it was perfect. We even did walk-canter transitions like we were born doing them. Good boy. I was careful to give him plenty of rests though. I want to make sure if this is a training issue that I'm reinforcing the desired behavior and if it is a health issue, that I'm not pushing for too much too soon. Thanks for the help everyone, I think we're back on the right track.

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