I recently started riding a different horse. She's a little black pony named Holiday, and she has a really bad reputation for kicking and biting people and other horses. So when I went to tack her up, I was a little nervous. But I quickly found that with a little love and gentle care, she's a real sweetheart.
She was great for riding too: no corner cuts, very responsive, very honest... except for one thing. She can't maintain a good canter without breaking stride. Unless my legs are death-grip tight around her at all times, she'll just go back into a trot.
It's not because she's stubborn (ok well maybe a little), she just doesn't like cantering. So as soon as I stop the leg pressure, she takes it as a go-ahead to stop cantering. She's still unsteady, as though she's unsure of whether or not she's allowed to trot. When I do have my leg on, she'll canter for me.
The problem is, I can't just squeeze her at all times. It makes my position all wonky, is uncomfortable for her, and makes her canter strides unsteady. My instructor suggested using a crop or spurs, but I'm not going to do that. When I'm riding with her, we have a sort of 'connection', and it's like we're working together instead of me just kicking her forwards. Crops and spurs will ruin that completely.
My goal is to be able to canter a full course of jumps with her without breaking stride and without having to squeeze her to death with my legs... but so far I'm not sure that's possible. Any ideas?
Oh, and she's a lesson horse, so I can't do any extra riding or lunging with her.