So, my horse's canter transitions are a little iffy. The thing is, it's quite random. During one riding session he will do all of the following when asked to canter (from either walk or trot):
-a beautiful transition, collected, and right on command
-a sloppy transition, right on command
-nose dive towards the center of the ring w/o changing gait
-raise his head, hollow his back, and choppy-trot faster & faster
-a nice transition, then immediately falls back to a trot
-a nice transition, then drop to a trot at the next corner (or turn)
When I really focus on my aids, looking up, and preparing him for the transition, I'll either get a beautiful transition or the nose-dive to the center of the ring.
My aids (I've tried varying methods, and have found this works the best with his previous training):
-Inside leg at the girth
-Light contact on inside rein
-Outside leg back
-Squeeze outside leg to push hip in
-Lift outside heel and *kiss* to cue for canter
I had a thought today that maybe he's just bored doing circles in the arena. We once did an exercise where we'd transition from trot-to-canter or canter-to-trot at each corner of the arena. This seemed to liven him up and he picked up each transition much better. Also, if I point him towards a cross-rail, he perks his ears and never breaks gait (well, until a few strides after the jump).
The most frustrating part for me is when he picks up his canter depart, and then falls back to a trot after 1 or 3 or 10 strides. When I start to feel him falling apart, I squeeze and *kiss* and do everything I can to keep him going...only to have him fall apart at the next corner. I don't want to make him dead-sided either! Arg!!
How can I prevent the nose-dive to the center of the ring (and/or properly correct it)?
How can I get him to keep going at a canter once he picks it up without constant nagging?
What exactly should I be doing with my reins during the canter depart and while cantering? I basically just have VERY light contact the whole time (except for slightly more inside rein contact at departure).
He does beautiful transitions and continues with impulsion while lunging, at liberty, or in his pasture. It's just when I'm up there messing with his business that we have these problems!
I am working with a trainer now, but so far it's just "ask him again" when he doesn't transition properly. She (and I) are both very open to trying new training methods! Let me see what you've got!
PS (oh boy this is getting long): Anyone who's Parelli-familiar, we've started the 7 Games and guess what our problematic game is...The Circling Game! He'll send just fine, but then when I allow him to go, he just stops (usually behind me). I don't think we've gotten a full circle yet! He likes to do what I ask, but then stops doing it when I stop asking (Circling Game AND Cantering undersaddle!)