Shortening canter strides
 
 

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Shortening canter strides

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  • What does shortening and lengthening canter strides do?
  • How to shorten a horses stride at the lope

 
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    09-11-2010, 04:07 PM
  #1
Yearling
Shortening canter strides

I have recently started to work hard on cantering with my 5 yo QH x TB mare. At 3 1/3 yo, she was barely broken in, had temper tantrums, etc. Her previous owner said she had been sent for 30 days training, refused to tell us what she had been taught to do. (As this was a rescue situation, we didn't just walk away. The horses there were being neglected and needed a home.) Over the past two years, we've worked had on maintaining a nice pace while walking and trotting, as well as introducing head-sets and starting to straighten her out.
A few problems she *had*:
-Threw fits when asked to transition-down
-Disliked ground poles, barrels, cones, etc- anything by her feet or down on the ground
-Would speed way up, slow way down, speed way up, etc. while trotting
-Tossed her head and became agitated when asked to halt or back up

The above has been solved, after lots of hard work. Through the riding I've done with her, and the little background I know, I suspect the 30 days training was for Western gaming- barrels, down and back, etc. She has the sharp barrel turn and speeds up if you circle her (big or small). She also (as mentioned) dislikes items on the ground, especially barrels.
__________________________________________________ ___________
Now that the history is over and done with, on to our problems. As I've started getting her cantering, it's obvious there's a LOT to work on.
1. She will easily pick up the counter-clockwise lead, but needs lots of set-up for the clockwise lead, and even then she won't always pick it up. Ideas? Suggestions?

2. While I can shorten/lengthen her stride while walking and trotting, with cantering I just can't seem to make it work. If I half-halt to slow her, as her canter is insanely fast as well as elongated, she drops to a trot. If I try to slow her via legs, she ignores the cues and keeps going.
I'm assuming it's something I'm doing wrong, so give me feedback here. Is there something else I should try? I have a German martingale that I bought a while back but haven't really used all that much- is it worth trying to see if it'll help? Or should I use that as a last resort type thing?

3. The really nice canter strides I get from her are when she starts to tire out, right before she wants to drop from the canter. If I can get this, I usually cue her to continue to encourage the shorter strides, but then she takes the cue as a sign to speed up. If I lessen the cue, she drops down.

A few extra notes- she is very fired up after cantering, no matter what. She will not become slower or shorten her stride if I work her for 2 hours.
Before I have gotten comments to simply, 'ride her out'. This does not work. If anything, she becomes agitated and instead throws a fit or just attempts to gallop. Thank you in advance- this is a novel in the making. :P
I also apologize if I sound stupid, or plain dumb. As far as a trainer goes, I do have one. I will be having a heap of private lessons about this matter over the fall-winter-spring, but for the next couple weeks when I don't have lessons (transitioning between summer & fall) and I don't have a trainer (maternity leave), I'm just looking for what I can do in the meantime. Thanks!
     
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    09-11-2010, 06:23 PM
  #2
Foal
All I can suggest for slowing down her is sitting right down in the saddle, trying to make her really canter on her hindquarters. I have this problem with my gelding and I get told to "make him canter on his bum"
     
    09-11-2010, 08:01 PM
  #3
Weanling
Going to fast puts your horse out of balance, on to the forehand, and causing banking and falling in on the circle. I do notice when you canter rainy you tip forward in your upper body. Sit upright and drop your seat and legs around your horse. Keep your core strong, and really push those heels down! You should picture your horse at a very slow canter, "hold" the pace with your upper body and thighs, and give rhythmic tweaks on the outside rein. Also, say a long, drawn-out 'easy'.
Hope that helps.
     
    09-12-2010, 01:24 PM
  #4
Green Broke
It seems that you might be not encouraging her to work from her hind end as much as you should. When she's pushing from behind is when you can get the small stride from her. A horse can't collect until their hind end is working from under them. Some of the dressage divas on here can give way better advice on this than I can, so I'll leave it at that. Good luck with him!
     
    09-12-2010, 06:37 PM
  #5
Yearling
Thanks everyone for the advice- had an excellent ride today. She was really listening as far as shortening/extending her trotting, and she wasn't trying to speed off at all. So I did a lot of canter work. I've found that really making her focus on how she's balanced helps her pick up the correct lead. Otherwise she'll drop her right shoulder and be completely off. Anyway, we had really controlled striding, and awesome pace. I don't know what changed, but it was really an overnight thing. Hopefully I can keep doing what I did today- I tried my best to keep her weight to the outside when asking so maybe that helped? We'll have to see! Unfortunately, I didn't get videos or pictures of today, but the next time I'm out and working on it, I'll try to get some for critique! Thank you again!
     
    09-13-2010, 05:52 PM
  #6
Weanling
Quote:
Originally Posted by horseluver2435    
...
1. She will easily pick up the counter-clockwise lead, but needs lots of set-up for the clockwise lead, and even then she won't always pick it up. Ideas? Suggestions? Since she's young and inexperienced she's probably not balanced enough for the canter so tries to trot instead. To get 1 lead make certain you have inside leg at girth, outside leg behind girth, connection with outside rein. Do NOT hold inside rein and with babies I "rock" from butt to inside seat bone in sequence of their stepping into canter to encourgae them to canter.

2. While I can shorten/lengthen her stride while walking and trotting, with cantering I just can't seem to make it work. That's because she lacks balance. ...I have a German martingale that I bought a while back but haven't really used all that much- is it worth trying to see if it'll help? No - this will NOT fix the problem. Instead once you ask and get canter only stay in canter about 5-6 strides before coming back to trot. Do this MANY time during a session to build up her canter muscles without making her overly tired.

3. The really nice canter strides I get from her are when she starts to tire out, right before she wants to drop from the canter. If I can get this, I usually cue her to continue to encourage the shorter strides, but then she takes the cue as a sign to speed up. If I lessen the cue, she drops down. If you do TONS of transition trot to canter to trot and do NOT stay in canter long she'll - over time - be capable of holding the canter longer and not having to run for balance. Plus she'll be expecting you to be slowing her to trot so should be better about slowing the canter (less excited).

...Thanks!
See above info. If you can find a GOOD dressage trainer in your area they will be able to help you more than we can.
     
    09-14-2010, 10:33 PM
  #7
Yearling
Thanks so much, Valentina! I'm glad you stopped by. I'll certainly remember all of that next time I ride, and I like the idea of building up the canter muscles. :) Thanks!

(My trainer trained dressage up to Level 3, and rode up to Prix St. George [switched to gaited horses] and so will be a big help, however, for anything more than that, trainers are over an hour away, won't travel to our barn, and/or are extremely expensive. So I stick with my own trainer and come on here for a few tips as well.)
     
    09-17-2010, 10:01 AM
  #8
Weanling
My grade QH mare was really bad at bolting when I first got her. She was fine at walk/trot, but the minute you asked her for a canter, she would bolt. And I mean dead run pretty much. There was no stopping her. We also assumed she had been ridden as a trail/pleasure horse and then used for speed events.

What we did for this issue was to just let her run. I know it sounds crazy. I would quietly ask her for the canter and when she would bolt, I would basically just let her. I would sit deep in the saddle and basically tell her with my body to slow, and I would not have any leg on her whatsoever. She would eventually tire and realize that I was not encouraging this behavior, it was all her. When she would try to slow, I was instructed to now push her forward. After about a minute, she would be in a nice easy canter.

Then after about 30 seconds of that, I would quietly ask her to transistion down and of course at this point she was happy to listen to my cue!

I know it sounds crazy, but after about 3 sessions of this, she was a completely different horse. Once she figured out that I was not the one asking for the speed, she could relax.

This is pretty much the exact opposite from what Valentina said, but I think her advice is fantastic. This would obviously be the best and safest approach.

I had to have private lessons in an indoor arena with nothing in the arena for a while until we had this under wraps.

While my way worked WONDERS with my mare, it may be a different story with your horse. My mare had psychological issues and once we told her she was the one causing herself to run, she figured it out.

Either way, good luck! :)
     
    09-17-2010, 03:39 PM
  #9
Yearling
That might be something to bring up with my instructor- I'll see what she says. Thanks for the input!
     

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