I have a six year old appendix quarter horse mare for just a short time (a few weeks). She was professionally trained about a year ago, but since then hasn't been ridden at all.
I've been riding her everyday and she's done really well, she's getting used to me and she's getting readjusted to being ridden, and already losing weight (she got kind of fat from being a pasture pet). She does really really well at the walk and trot and everything on a lunge line, but she was never trained to canter with a rider.
I tried to canter with her last week, and it did not go well. She would buck every time I cued her to canter, eventually I got her to go a short distance without bucking and stopped riding for the day to end on a decent note. Since then I've just been working her more on trotting and walking.
She does canter on the lunge line, with and without a saddle, - no bucking, so I'm not sure if it's really a balance issue.
How long do you think is appropriate to work a horse with walk and trot before progressing to the canter? What level and behavior at the walk and trot should she get to?
Or, should I just push her into the canter right now? I don't want to rush her, but do you think it could just be a behavioral issue? She doesn't have any other issues with stubborness, she's absolutely wonderful doing everything but that.
She is very out of shape, so I suspect it might just be that she's tired and doesn't want to canter, or that it's hard for her to canter with a rider on because her muscles just aren't really there yet. In that case, what are some exercises that would build muscle for cantering?
Any other advice?