Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: southern Arizona
This is just FWIW, based on a sample of 1...
My mare will sometimes pick up a nice, relaxed and fairly collected canter. Other times, she gets excited and goes way forward. When she does, she sometimes stretches her nose down to the ground. And I mean inches from the ground. The first time she did it, I thought something had happened to her - like a stroke or something. We were going at a fast canter, but her nose was just a few inches from the ground.
My other two don't do that [edit: in fact, one gelding tends to start with his head high, and THEN he moves to level], and we start the canter with slack in the reins. Also, I ride her with an Australian saddle and a western approach to using reins, altho with a simple snaffle bit. So it is NOT a case of her leaning on my hands. Not with a loose rein!
What I do is remove the slack and then pull her head up some. I try to shift MY weight to the rear, and then use whatever force I need to pull her head up to level. Then I milk the reins, very slight pressure on alternating sides in synch with her shoulder moving forward. She will then settle back, slow down some, and take up a canter about halfway between the collected canter she sometimes takes, and the very forward canter she takes the other times.
I've been thinking about it this week, and think she needs more work cantering on a lunge line - although I've never seen her put her head that low with a lunge line. I also think I need to work on shifting my weight further back. It is pretty easy to pull her neck level, so she isn't forcing the issue.
I don't know if that helps in any way. It freaked me out the first time she did it! It looks and feels really weird. Good luck!
"People can teach us the rules, but only horses can teach us the art of riding."