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!