I have a horse and I can not get him to just slowly canter along. He is a good boy for everything else! When I ask him to canter is usually a faster one (not the fastest he can go) but one that isnt slow. Sometimes I would just like to slowly canter and enjoy the ride haha, before you guys go telling me he needs training ect ect he is a good horse this is one of his only faults! I would love if someone can help me out with this problem. What can I do to help him?? Do I need to start with the lunge line and move to the saddle or what?? He does know how to collect his head for the walk and pretty good at the trot. I would love to have him collect his head for the trot better and for a nice slow canter. Any help is realy really apprishated!
If his canter feels rushed, he's probably unbalanced. You can improve balance by doing lots of quality trotting. Once the trot is good, do trot canter transitions. Only canter until it starts to fall apart, in your case speed up, come back to trot and put his trot back together before cantering again. The frequent transitions will get him to use his hind end more efficiently too.
My horse had a fast, unbalanced canter too. What worked for me was doing walk to canter transitions. I put her into a forward walk and made sure her attention was on me. Then I asked for a canter. At first she trotted a few steps before breaking into the canter, but with time she would depart straight into the canter. I allowed her to canter six or ten strides and brought her back down to a walk. We repeated this exercise at random throughout our normal flat work. It helped her balance herself, get off the forehand, and slow her canter.
Some horses just have a big stride and it can make it seem like they're cantering fast when really, that's just how they move. If this isn't the case for your guy, here is what I suggest:
Relax your horse. Are you in his mouth as soon as you ask him to canter (or before)? Answer this question honestly to yourself - I'm not asking if you're hauling on his mouth, although that is a question worth answering as well, I'm just asking if you anticipate the pacey canter and tighten your reins (maybe even subconsciously) before you even start to canter. Contrary to popular belief, the reins are not brakes, and don't influence your horse's speed as much as you'd think. Canoodling with your horse's mouth at the canter (keep in mind the nose bobs at the canter and your hands should likewise) creates a barrier and makes your horse tense, in which case you will NOT achieve a pleasant stride (at ANY gait).
Get back to the walk. Go in the arena and walk the fence on a loose rein. Yes, a LOOSE rein. Your horse's gait will adjust itself as he relaxes. Pick up a trot once you feel he is relaxed (head down, slower walk, licking and chewing, etc). Keep your reins loose, keep your hands steady, and make sure there isn't any contact for him to brace against. That's how a steamroller is born. Trot like this until you're in a steady, relaxed pace. The horse's head will start to drop, the back will come up, and you'll see licking/chewing on the bit. Pick up a canter with as subtle a cue as possible, and you'll see an impeccable difference in your horse's attitude and gait. Once you're able to establish this relaxation, you can start adjusting your contact on the reins to bring the nose in. This is all being said assuming the horse already knows how to yield to the bit and can flex laterally.
Thank all three of you for the anwsers I will have to try the troting aroud for a while move to a canter and when it falls apart go back to a trot. I never really thought of it being an unbalanced issue! That's pretty neat that you guys could help me on this!
Myboypuck-i also like the idea of him using his hind end more!!
Trail boss- its nice to know I am not the only one who has a horse like this lol! I like the idea of walk to canter transitions, that is deffinatly something to work on as well!
Equilove- he is only 13.3H so I don't know if you would consider his strides big or not? I understand though some horses do have bigger strides then others. I always thought because he is a quarter pony, that the pony in him makes him have choppy strides haha! ;)
I have never had him collect his head at a canter so I don't know how that would go? I just thought I should get the troting down before starting anything else. Im never really in his mouth because I just give him the reins when we do canter. BUt when ever I ask him to canter he just goes faster, the only down fall is I don't have an arena and when I do practice it is in his pen :/ I love then information you have posted it really helps and I will practice it!!
Trotting improves balance. Just trot, trot, trot until he's moving along in a nice rhythm. Don't worry about where his head is at the canter yet. Just let him find his own balance before you start worrying about where his head is.
Try changing the speed of your trot and see if he stays at the speed you chose or goes faster or slower. I understand that you THINK he's good at a trot (so did I when someone told me this) but if he was good at the trot you wouldn't have this problem.
The good thing about schooling at the trot versus the lope is that your horse can trot much longer than he can lope.
I agree with Kevin. I've been working with Sock mostly at a trot since he's not conditioned yet or very good at a lope. Work on extending his trot, then bringing him back down to a jog, extending him, bringing him down, and so on. Just make sure that it's YOU telling him to do so, not him deciding to get rushy or poky on you.