Cantering on the longe?

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Cantering on the longe?

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    05-17-2009, 12:36 AM
Cantering on the longe?

Hello all. Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

I recently volunteered to help a family condition and finish some of their horses, as they cannot ride much due to varying circumstances and are not very experienced.

I'm starting off with the 'easiest' horse, a 15 year old Morgan mare who appears to be very sweet... quite willing on the lead, quiet, perhaps a little on the lazy side. Her owners explained to me that she has a tough time with her canter departure, often 'stumbling' as she starts. My theory is that she's usually too strung out or heavy on the forehand to be able to perform a clean canter depart, or for that matter maintain the canter.

I took her out to the round pen to work with her the first time today and she did fairly well, but she was not at all willing to canter going either direction on or off the longe. I got after her a little, but I didn't push the matter too far since it's the first time I've done anything with her and the owners were watching closely.

My question is, would it be better for me to keep pushing her until I can get her to canter on the longe reliably, or could it possibly benefit her more to do some undersaddle work to help concentrate on getting those haunches active, shoulders up, and a good bend? Any other tips?

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    05-17-2009, 01:00 AM
Is she fairly unmuscled? Horses don't ride on the forehand because they want to... its because they're lacking muscle through their hind. It sounds like this is what may be going on. She may also be very unbalanced (due also to lack of muscle). I would definitely forget about the canter right now. If she's willing to trot for you, that's a great start. I would work on her hind end muscles. Do lots and lots of trot work (sit trot is best) and work at sitting back and riding THROUGH her trot with your legs, getting her hind end to work UNDERNEATH her. This will take some time, especially if she's never been worked like this before.

Bending and lots of circles and serpentines are also helpful (cantering has a lot to do with the neck and shoulder muscles). Make sure to work evenly on both directions. You may want to carry a crop with you, to help push her forward, but use it with caution... you don't want her to become immune to it.

The great thing is that as she gets more strength through her back end, you will notice her start to lift her front legs more and eventually you will have more of an energized trot out of her. Once she's had a lot of hind end work, cantering will probably be a lot more desirable and easier for her. :)
    05-17-2009, 09:47 AM
Great, thanks for the advice, exactly what I needed to hear. I do think that she needs some more muscling. Do you think trotting/walking over a few cavaletti poles would help out too?
    05-17-2009, 02:02 PM
Originally Posted by Eolith    
Great, thanks for the advice, exactly what I needed to hear. I do think that she needs some more muscling. Do you think trotting/walking over a few cavaletti poles would help out too?
Oh most definitely! Cavaletti encourages a horse to lift up her front legs. It puts an extra bounce in the trot and gets them more motivated. Good luck!

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