Cantering bareback? How to teach a young horse...?
 
 

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Cantering bareback? How to teach a young horse...?

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  • Young horse lungr train canter
  • How to teach a horse to bareback

 
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    03-24-2009, 04:42 PM
  #1
Started
Cantering bareback? How to teach a young horse...?

My three year old is perfect to walk, trot, and canter undersaddle... and he's perfect walking bareback, and is fine with trotting bareback...
But he won't canter bareback...

Well, he will... but only towards the house/barn.... If I ask him to canter bareback away from the house or barn, he ducks his head and flicks his ears back and refuses to get faster and sometimes slows down. He does this even when I pop him lightly with the reins. However, if I ask him to canter towards the house, most of the time he'll do it. The times he doesn't are when he's on the road or gravel... (he's barefoot).

How can I convince him to canter bareback whenever I ask him to? I just started trying to get him to canter bareback a few days ago... but that's my 'training goal' at the moment...
     
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    03-24-2009, 05:12 PM
  #2
Weanling
You say the times he doesn't is when he is on road or gravel. I would suggest step one would be to not attempt it on road or gravel. While I won't get into the "should you canter a 3-yr old" debate which is likely to arise, I would suggest that cantering on pavement is pretty hard on any horse, and is not really recommended for a 3-yr old. In any case, perhaps the terrain is painful or uncomfortable and it the cause of your problem?

Aside from running on softer/more comfortable ground, there are some other things you can try.

Really evaluate your seat. Nothing personal, but you may be riding in such a way that is is uncomfortable and/or painful to the horse to maintain that gait while you ride bareback. Have someone with a good eye look at your riding and provide some critique.

More groundwork - lunging and/or roundpen. Teach the horse that the canter cue means canter.

More work under saddle until the cues are better learned. If the horse won't do it bareback, he obviously isn't 100% with the cue.

If the horse will canter towards the house, use that to your advantage. Either start by cantering toward the house, then slowly turn in another direction while keeping the gait. Go for several strides, break down to a trot or walk and turn back to the house - praising correct behavior all the time.

Alternately, you can ask for the canter while heading away from the house. When you get it, go for a few strides and then turn toward the house (while maintaing gait). Praise and break down to a walk or trot.

Start small. Go for a few strides of canter, praise and break down. Over time, you can build 2-3 strides to 5-6 then 10-12, etc. You don't want to increase the length so fast that the horse makes the decision to break stride. Also, you are using the "house" direction as a reward since that is the direction the horse apparently wants to go.

Hope this helps.
     
    03-24-2009, 06:46 PM
  #3
Started
I should have been a bit clearer... I don't do anything but walk on the road... He's trotted a few times on the road, but I try to keep him off it... as he doesn't like it and I don't want to damage his joints. The only times I ever ask for a trot/canter is when we're on a soft, grassy area along the side of the road, we're n a field, or on a soft trail.

I know that I tend to get off balance while riding bareback, though I can keep a pretty good seat... if the horse moves differently than what I'm accustomed to, I unbalance... I'm slowly getting better at 'going with' the horse.

I also know that yes, I do need to do more lunge-work... I don't have a round pen, so I've never really worked with him on a lunge at anything above a trot. Yes, I've had him canter on a lunge a few times, but not really 'worked' at it... if that makes sense. I need to haul him up to my friends and use her round pen some this summer... That way I can free-lunge him and stuff.

Thanks a lot, that's really helpful!
     
    03-24-2009, 10:52 PM
  #4
Weanling
Quote:
Originally Posted by Britt    
I should have been a bit clearer... I don't do anything but walk on the road... He's trotted a few times on the road, but I try to keep him off it... as he doesn't like it and I don't want to damage his joints. The only times I ever ask for a trot/canter is when we're on a soft, grassy area along the side of the road, we're n a field, or on a soft trail.
Ok - that makes it clearer.


Quote:
I also know that yes, I do need to do more lunge-work... I don't have a round pen, so I've never really worked with him on a lunge at anything above a trot. Yes, I've had him canter on a lunge a few times, but not really 'worked' at it... if that makes sense.
That, along with your moments of unbalance while cantering bareback, could be part of the problem. My understanding is that young horses can have problems balancing at the canter. Lots of practice is needed to build up the muscles and teach balance (I am not a professional trainer, so I am just repeating what I have been told by several trainers). More practice (lunge/roundpen/etc) could be the answer.
     
    03-24-2009, 11:08 PM
  #5
Started
Excellent advice! Well said and i've got nothing to add ;)
     
    03-24-2009, 11:23 PM
  #6
Started
So.. you think he's just unbalanced... It makes a lot of sense, considering...

Could he kind of have his balance under saddle, but not bareback? Because he's extremely willing to canter under saddle...


We did canter a few times earlier today and he felt a little... well, he was really smooth, but now that I think about it, he seemed to be kinda 'weaving', like he wasn't exactly sure about his footing a few times...

How can I help him get his balance better without using a lunge-line or round pen? I know that he's pretty balanced under saddle... I've seen/ridden some horses who looked/felt like they were going to fall down when turning and stuff, but my boy doesn't feel like that at all under saddle...
     
    03-24-2009, 11:43 PM
  #7
Weanling
Keep in mind you said yourself that you have some issues with balance and feeling comfortable bareback. It could be that you are inadvertently throwing your horse's balance off when you ride bareback as opposed to when you ride with a saddle when you feel more comfortable. With a young horse I would suggest sticking to a saddle until you and the horse are 100% secure. You don't want him to start picking up bad habits through ignoring your cues or for him to lose the balance he does have. Developing your horse's balance and muscles will just take time, especially with a young horse. More lunge work will definitely help but keep in mind it'll be a whole different ball game when you are in the saddle. If possible have someone else lunge him while ride.
     

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