Help getting my STB to canter

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Help getting my STB to canter

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  • How to train an OTTS to canter
  • How to get a trotter to canter

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    07-28-2012, 07:04 PM
Help getting my STB to canter

I just bought an off the track standardbred mare, I saddle broke her (didn't think it would be that easy! ) and have ridden quite a few times but i'm having trouble getting her up to a canter. I'm pretty sure she was a trotter and I have seen her canter in the fields with my other mare so she is capable. I've been told that using jumps help, but i'm a western rider I can't just go around jumping without experience, plus I don't have the saddle for it. I was thinking ground poles but i'm not sure how to go about this. Please help me!
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    07-28-2012, 08:35 PM
Welcome to the wonderful standardbred breed! I love this breed and I am currently riding two. I have some ideas but I am sure the experts will be along shortly.

I would first advise you to slow down a bit. I have one horse that was taught to canter in a traumatic way. He was put on a short lead and hit with a lunge whip repeatedly until he cantered. That resulted in him being a bit of a nightmare on the lunge line, terrified of the lunge whip and forgetting that he could trot and not canter all the time. I would not advise teaching your horse this way.

The other gelding I did not think had been taught to canter. I spent most of the summer working him at a trot and establishing a nice steady trot rhythm. He build up muscle and started to offer a canter. I rewarded that but I am not at this time asking for a canter because the trot is not 100%. It can be tempting to run before you can walk. That's true with any horse, so make sure you have the basics established.

I would ask how old your horse is and how long they were at the track? The longer they were at the track the longer they were told that cantering is a big no-no. Which means you are going to have to tell them that cantering is a big YES. So, don't rush because this is something that will to some degree blow your horses mind. I have a horse that raced for 14 years, asking him to canter would blow his mind to a point where the rewards are probably not worth the efforts. He does not even canter out in pasture he just racing trots (he is faster than the ones that are cantering too).

Once they have an established and nice trot. A fast trot and a slow trot and they are following a circle well, I would ask for the canter. This may not be comfortable as they will probably try a racing trot. Keep asking. When they canter relax and go with it, don't pull them back or correct for a few strides. Most standies have a lovely canter. The other option is to take them out on a trail and just ask them for a canter on a straight away. A lot of people have mixed feelings about that idea. No matter what you do I think the important thing is that they have a solid trot before asking for the canter.

There are also a few books and articles offered by the Standardbred pleasure horse organization of New Jersey on this very training issue. The SPHONJ has an online link to an article on there website.

Sorry for the novel!
KristinLynnCiscos19 and hemms like this.
    07-28-2012, 09:13 PM
I hadn't heard much about standardbreds before but now i'm so glad I did get one, they are amazing!! I think that is just what I needed to hear, I am expecting too much too fast because she has been so willing so far. She's 9 years old now and has been off the track for 4 years. I will slow down and work on her trot more i'm not in a rush, just so excited to work with her! Thank you!! :)
    07-28-2012, 09:14 PM
If she doesn't pace, then that's half the battle gone already! :)

Hill work helps. My Standies would all rather canter than trot or pace up and down hills. Also, I would ask for more speed, end up with an !amazing! Pace (beautiful to ride), keep asking and eventually got a canter. A few times like that and the horses figured out that a canter was easier than racing.

Ground poles will only improve the trot for you I think. Are you capable of lunging over jumps? If you have suitable jumps for that and know how to do it, that might be an idea too.

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