How to stop fighting? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 15 Old 03-09-2011, 11:15 PM Thread Starter
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How to stop fighting?

JT has learned a new trick; refusing to canter in the arena. He canters just fine out in the open and we haven't had a left canter in the arena for about a year, but now the right canter is history too.
JT is a 5-year old NSH and I've had him for almost a year and a half. He has calmed down enormously and is pretty much lazy now, hardly spooks at all.
I've changed saddles and the new one is off his shoulders and wide enough, use the softest bit I could find and have had him checked out not too long ago, chiropratic work and new wedged shoes for more balance.
He has improved huge in his walk and trot work (we try dressage mostly), is sensitive to my leg aids and is coming more and more from behind, but canter keep getting worse and worse.
He is my first young horse, I'm used to horses picking up each lead because someone else taught them how to do it, I gave the aid and the horse cantered. Now I have to admit to occasionally loosing my temper, because I just don't see why it is so hard, he picks them both up on the trail, why won't he do it in the arena?
How do I realize in time I'm about to loose my patience and keep the ride progressing positively? I really want to stop fighting him and prevent us both from getting frustrated, but I also want him to know it's not okay to refuse to do wat I'm asking for.
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post #2 of 15 Old 03-10-2011, 12:39 AM
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What does he do when you ask for the canter in the arena?
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post #3 of 15 Old 03-10-2011, 01:22 AM
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Originally Posted by knaskedov View Post
He canters just fine out in the open and we haven't had a left canter in the arena for about a year, but now the right canter is history too.
I think he realized that if he does not have to canter left, then he doesn't have to canter right for you in the arena.

Put a ground pole in a corner and ask for the canter right before it, and back it up with a whip. Or try it on the ground on the lunge first. The ground pole helps them get the right lead. But you need to forceful in asking for it.
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post #4 of 15 Old 03-10-2011, 09:23 AM Thread Starter
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If I ask for the left lead, he'll pick up the right, there is little resistance just the wrong answer to the question. When I ask for the right canter now, he'll pick it up, but after four or five strides he gives up and breaks into trot, he will not canter an entire circle. It feels like all his energy is going into the ground or backwards, like he's telling me "I don't want to, I'm not going to and you cannot make me". If I keep asking him he'll start hopping in the back threatening to buck and pulling towards the gate as if he's telling me he's done enough and it's time for dinner. It's extremely frustrating. I can yell and kick all I want, he's not impressed, he just won't do it.
Last night I gave up on canter and worked on the trot for an extra fifteen minutes to make him realize he had not won, but he doesn't mind trot and immediately the resistance was gone, so in a way he got what he wanted afterall...
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post #5 of 15 Old 03-10-2011, 09:49 AM
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If he canters in straight lines on a trail just fine but is resistant on circles, he may have trouble finding his balance. Does he canter in the arena on the lunge line both directions? I would perhaps start there and see how he goes.

Under saddle, you cann't "give up". You have just trained your horse to ignore your canter cue. You must keep upping the pressure until he gives you the response you are looking for. If you are afraid to press it because he threatens to buck, you either are going to need to find someone who will make him do it or fail to progress to the canter.

Best of luck.
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post #6 of 15 Old 03-10-2011, 10:03 AM
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My first thought is perhaps your body is a bit crooked; do you have pics or a video of it happening? Working with a trainer would be my first bit of advice, without seeing exactly what's happening, all I can offer are guesses.
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post #7 of 15 Old 03-10-2011, 11:47 AM
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How does he do on the lunge? If he canters fine it may in fact be your fault and not the horse's. Otherwise, I have a feeling this horse may have lost the respect necessary to listen to your aids. If trotting and walking are easy he may not mind listening to what you ask. However, if he does not like the canter it may become then that he chooses to disobey. That's as much help as I can give you.

"The wise man thinks he knows nothing.
The fool thinks he knows everything."

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post #8 of 15 Old 03-10-2011, 12:39 PM
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First of all what is the footing in the arena. Too hard or too deep can cause difficulty for a horse to canter.

Otherwise, I would say that he is having problems balancing maybe because of his own body and maybe because of your body position. I don't think this is respect issue because he is compliant for the trot so I wouldn't address it like that. What I would do is ground drive him and ask him to pick up the canter in the arena. If he refuses the canter from the ground then I would get him trotting and ask for the canter. If he doesn't take it then just as he is leaving the space he is in slap the ground with your lunge whip or stick right behind him. Do not hit him, hit the ground that he has just vacated. As you are going to slap the ground really stand upright and animate the action. So he knows what happens before what happens happens. Then once you get that he might go back to trot and that's OK don't lose your patience - just say great trot, now I can ask you again for canter. That is positive anyway because the more transitions you do then the more he learns to balance himself. So even once you got the canter then do lots of transitions i.e. canter a few strides then back to trot.

Hope that helps.
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post #9 of 15 Old 03-10-2011, 12:47 PM
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One other thing... when he takes the canter from the ground don't keep drilling him. End the session right there. Soon he'll learn that it's a good thing to take it. Then do the same thing under saddle. I would do that for 10-15 sessions then I would start asking for a little more.
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post #10 of 15 Old 03-10-2011, 01:36 PM Thread Starter
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After thinking about some more, especially after what AlexS wrote, I do believe I caused this. He picks up his leads from the ground in the round pen and the arena just fine and the arena was just watered and dragged, so it's not the footing either. What I've been doing is always ask for the left canter first, knowing he'll likely not give it to me, I try bend to the inside, bend to the outside, before the corner, in the corner, after the corner, after a circle etc, but the result is often the same; the wrong lead. So I ask for trot after a few strides. I thought this would show him that just because he won't give it to me, doesn't mean I'll stop asking.
However this sounds a lot like what he's now doing on his own to the right, a few strides and then trot. On the trail he's never asked to trot after a few strides, because he picks up the lead I ask for and can keep going.
So I probably created a monster, because in his mind cantering in the arena is about the transition and then back to trot. How do I fix this one?
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