Pulling her head down at the canter

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Pulling her head down at the canter

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  • Horse pulls head down canter

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    11-03-2009, 03:43 PM
Question Pulling her head down at the canter

I haven't had my mare very long, so the last three months have been somewhat of a trial for both of us. She is 8 years old, had a late start, and has mainly dressage training. At the walk and trot she is very forward and responsive. She has lots of impulsion and is very light on her forehand. I ride her in a french link D ring snaffle and she seemingly loves it. She's great to ride at the walk and trot. But the canter...

As soon as I signal to canter she becomes heavy on the forehand, and leans on my hands and gets speedy. Sometimes she tries to pull her head way down, as if to yank me out of the saddle. I try to half halt, but I can't seem to get her to slow and sink her weight to her hindquarters.

What am I doing wrong? So far when she starts getting heavy on my hands, I glue my butt to the saddle, sink my weight into my heels, wrap my legs around her, to drive her to the bit. I make sure my hands are light and supple to avoid pulling on her face.

It's becoming frustrating, and I know it's my fault. Any advice would be so helpful!
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    11-03-2009, 04:14 PM
I'm having a similar problem with my horse, he was used as a showjumper and was ridden very fast and forward going, and I've been trying to slow him down - which I think is why he's leaning on my hand (I'm using a similar bit to you too!) and pulling. The only thing I can think of to do is to lean back slightly (not all the way to his tail ) and put more weight into my seat to try to 'lever' him up off his forehand and get his weight back on his hindquarters ... He doesn't respond to half-halts properly, he regards every tweak on the reins as an aid to stop!

*shrugs* I'll keep working on it!
    11-03-2009, 05:22 PM
Don't give her anything to lean on in canter, move the bit through her mouth, carry your hands up, and jam your legs on her, push her into smaller circles then out onto bigger ones to get her balanced. Sounds to me it's more of a balance issue than being naughty. Maybe some canter work on the lunge would benifit her?
As for half halts, it really irritates me that people use the thought of a 'half halt' so freely without knowing what it is. To apply a half halt the horse has to have good balance and an understanding on forward and back aids. If you can't go canter-trot-canter in a matter of seconds, your horse isn't ready for a half halt. They are something that needs to be trained, they don't just 'happen'.
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    11-03-2009, 05:31 PM
I agree with the circles... do small big small big small small big small big big ... you get the point. That way she is always ready for what you are going to ask her next and doesn't have time to get heavy.

Does she do it more on the long sides?

Also lunging her could help- like suggested.

Lastly I would suggest bending her. So if you are going to the left, bend her to the left so that she is listening to you.
    11-03-2009, 05:51 PM
Thanks everyone.

When I canter her down the long side of the arena she just wants to run as fast as she can. So, at this point, I just canter in smaller circles. But I like the idea of smaller-bigger-smaller-bigger circles.
    11-03-2009, 06:24 PM
Ah ok, pretty common issue when they take off on the forehand down the longside. Pretty easy to fix too. Ride 15m circles the at each marker down the long side, so she doesn't have time to take off ;) She'll get the point pretty quickly, every time she grabs and takes off, circle her. Also might help to make her trot every time she takes off in canter.
Keep your legs jammed on her and move the bit, make it uncomfortable for her to bomb off on you like that. HEAPS of trot-canter-trot transitions, they are great for getting a nice consistant canter that is off the forehand, because they find it physically very difficult to be doing successive transitions between trot and canter if they are on the forehand, as the inside hind leg HAS to take the weight to get into canter!!
    11-03-2009, 06:37 PM
^ totally agree- took the words right from me ... I have to do this with my mare at the trot cause she gets going like a steam train!
    11-07-2009, 07:11 AM
What all the others have suggested you must do. The circling and transitions will be a good way to slow her a bit and get her off the forehand.

Another trick I used to use is the neckstrap. It doesn't work with all horses, but when they speed up and tend to lean on your hands, keep the reins as loose as possible and pull on the neckstrap. It slowed my horse down and gradually taught her to work from behind. Now she is very light on the forehand.
    11-07-2009, 12:25 PM
Omg same with my Western paso fino gelding! He sticks his head almost between his legs and I have to pull him up every time because sometimes he starts bucking at our mare
    11-07-2009, 01:07 PM
I think Spyder and Anabel would be a great asset to this thread - I'm going to make sure they both see this, because I feel they would be the best at answering to aid you in your issue.

There is obviously unbalance going on here, and when a horse reaches for your hands, they are looking for something to aid in balancing themselves. They are not carrying themselves at all here, beacuse - they are not balanced.

I really feel Spyder and Anabel would beable to help out most definitely here.

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