Afraid of cantering - what can I do? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 21 Old 06-21-2013, 09:46 AM Thread Starter
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Afraid of cantering - what can I do?

I don't know if this really belongs here, but I found nowhere better to post this. So, fell free to move if it is in the wrong place here :)

As the title says I am somewhat afraid of cantering... Well I have been for the whole past year since I got bucked off by my mare during a riding lesson when the trainer insisted that she canters. She simply didn't want to, and she's not the horse to be forced to do anything. You can discuss things with her, be insistent and try time and again... but never can you force her to do something.

Well, I know it's my fault because I should have known that it wouldn't work the way the trainer wanted it... but I just didn't think at that moment but tried to do what the trainer told me.

Long story short, as I said, I got bucked off (I've never been good to stay on a bucking horse in the first place). Fell on my back and had the wind knocked out of me. Took me a couple minutes to recover and get back on (in the meanwhile my fiancee rode her). But we didn't try cantering again right away ... BIG MISTAKE I guess, because I haven't even tried it ever since!

Oh, it's not that I don't want to... in a way I'd love to do that again! I'm always disappointed with myself when I get off her and haven't even tried. I'm thinking about it often, during riding and on other times... but I always find excuses for not doing it (like: she seems so tired today, she's way too lively today, there comes a dog - she might bolt or buck, I have no whip - what if she refuses again, etc. etc. etc)...

I KNOW they're all just excuses, and that I should trust my horse and myself and just get over it and try it! ... But somehow I can't...

Any ideas how I could work on that inner barricade?

I thought about someone riding her instead of me, showing me she behaves... but noone at our stable wants to ... or can (see below).

Same with being lunged by someone I know can hold her ... well the problem here isn't wanting but being able to, because the friend who lunges her from time to time has an injured leg and he should still rest that...

Any other ideas that I could try until I get someone to canter her for me or lunge me??
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post #2 of 21 Old 06-21-2013, 10:03 AM
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Take lessons on a steady Eddie school horse to build up your confidence.
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post #3 of 21 Old 06-21-2013, 10:11 AM
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That's not an uncommon problem. I've met many riders who have fear at the canter.

My suggestion is lots of time in the saddle. Hours each week. It seems to be especially helpful if it can be in open country vs an arena, but don't know if that is available to you. It seems that as the rider becomes more comfortable at say a working or even extended trot, the rider relaxes and a canter will come naturally.

Some of it has to do with developing rhythm and core strength in ways a person doesn't already have. Some of it has to do with equilibrium.

Good luck and don't criticize yourself for having this problem. It really is quite common.
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post #4 of 21 Old 06-21-2013, 10:14 AM
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It's too bad that happened to you as I find a nice three beat canter my favourite gait. I'm not good for staying on for any length of time either when it comes to bucking so know you're not alone. I say keep riding at walk and trot until you are ready to try again. You might want to try extending and collecting the trot as in going a little faster in the trot and then coming back to a slower trot; you might also try trotting poles followed by a small jump (and I mean small as in inches off the ground and not feet) - the purpose of the poles and small jump is to help your horse round her back more which sets her up better for a canter (you developing a bit of collection here). When you do feel ready to try a canter, work her on the flat for awhile at your walk/trot to use up any excess energy and get her listening to you and then try the poles - you may find that she'll naturally fall into a canter after the jump so just go with the flow for a short distance then casually and quietly ask her to go back to a trot/walk. Good luck.
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post #5 of 21 Old 06-21-2013, 10:27 AM
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Provided you've learnt how to control a horses speed (as per a normal well trained/well behaved horse) then the canter if actually a lot easier to ride than the trot
I think you need to be getting your confidence back on a different horse that has no bucking issues at all before you even think about getting back to the horse you fell off. A good trainer should understand this, maybe you need to look for a new lesson barn?
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post #6 of 21 Old 06-21-2013, 12:11 PM
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You have gotten a lot of good suggestions. I just wanted to say that I'm in the same boat as you. I fell off after a trainer chased a horse with a whip to get it to canter and he bucked. I have a feeling I won't canter again unless one of my horses just slips into it on their own. I agree with the suggestion to try the canter on a reliable horse.
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post #7 of 21 Old 06-21-2013, 12:14 PM
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Just running out the door here, but (((((Hugs)))) in the same boat here, but have some more to add later
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post #8 of 21 Old 06-21-2013, 12:32 PM
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I say get a trainer in there. Just because "she doesn't want to" isn't an answer, just wait for it to trickele down. She won't want to trot, or walk, or even be mounted. Her options should be A) listen or B) don't listen (which results in nothing pleasant!), not cantering (or not), being caught (or not) or standing on the cross ties (or not). She shouldnt be allowed to "pick", your the boss.

Anyways, get the trainer out there and have them figure or whether this is a defiance problem or a pain issue. Let them reverse her thinking/behavior. In the mean time look into riding a school master so you can be come confident at the canter.
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post #9 of 21 Old 06-21-2013, 12:37 PM
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Kinda sounds to me like there are two issues here, one underlying the other. 1 fear of cantering (which really seems to me to be a fear of making your horse canter when you want and the results of that) and 2 getting the horse's respect. The way you described it appears to me that the horse has gotten the better of you. Now don’t be offended by this, as it appears that this is actually a pretty common state of affairs, unfortunately, and happens to many, many people.
So. I suppose if I were to give you some ideas, it would be to go out and find someone who can show you how to gain your horse's respect (and it has nothing to do with “bonding” with it ((that comes after respect)) or grooming it, or giving it treats). It has everything to do with making, yes, MAKING, it toe the line when you ask it to, and that includes cantering.
Next; no, not really, you shouldn’t just really trust your horse. Once it respects you it will earn your trust like anything else will and you will earn its trust, you go just putting trust in it, like some human interaction that it is (the process of trust I mean), its likely the horse will walk all over you and take advantage of you (which it appears to be getting towards now anyway). Given the size, power stamina etc. of a horse, given too that they are a relatively dopey (compared to humans) animal, this can lead to some dangerous stuff.
For example, I am lucky enough to train a reasonable number or young horse (though not so much lately) and that means from never touched to getting them going. I give them their first interaction with a human, their first ride and I get them working. You think I trust them? HELL NO! I'm on the look out for all sorts of shenanigans, especially in the first few rides. Mostly they go pretty good and never even get tucked up much less buck, but trust them? No way. when we have done a few hundred, or thousand, hours together, then Ill start to trust them.
But, once again, don’t get down about it, and what Im writing isn’t, by any means, meant to be nasty or insulting, so sorry if it appears so, but thats not the case. The thing is that most people, its beginning to appear to me at least, have the number one source of their problems, is a horse that hasn’t been taught to respect its rider. So you are (I'm guessing) dealing with a very common problem.
Find someone who can teach you to get your horse respecting you and it will come into a canter easily, there won't be (well, there kinda always might, but thats a hazard of riding a horse) be any bucking, or much, but part of it is to learn to cut that nonsense as the horse pulls it.
Then there's actually riding the canter. That’s the easy part, it pretty much like a sped up walk, nice and smooth for most horses. Just relax, sink into the saddle, heels down, and go with the flow. But, get the horses respect and it will make a world of difference.
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post #10 of 21 Old 06-21-2013, 03:32 PM
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Originally Posted by AnrewPL View Post
Given the size, power stamina etc. of a horse, given too that they are a relatively dopey (compared to humans) animal...
I think you must have a limited circle of human acquaintance

I have a horse that has just the opposite problem: she wants to canter at times when I don't think the ground is safe, or when I'm not up for it (still pretty much a novice rider), and will either start crow-hopping when I won't let her, and/or sometimes just refuse to go ahead at a trot or walk. It's like "Well, if I can't canter, I'm just going to stay here and have a little hissy fit".
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