OTTB - Canter problems
   

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OTTB - Canter problems

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  • How to canter in a small circle correctly
  • Ottb trouble holding lead cross canter

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    12-07-2011, 12:20 PM
  #1
Foal
OTTB - Canter problems

I have a 4 yr old OTTB mare that I am retraining right now. Her last race was in June and I got her in July. She gets turned out during the day and in a stall at night. I rode her a few times in August and September but have mostly just given her time to chill until the beginning of november. First few times I rode her all she wanted to do was run and buck, now she will walk and trot quietly on a loose rein or on very light contact. She does gradual w-t-h-w-t transitions, backs up and has been walking and trotting quietly over poles and very small cross rails. I can trail ride her around the farm at a walk and she went to her first show this past weekend to chill and hang out and was pretty good.

My problem is the canter. I have cantered her a few times and she was pretty good. Not too fast and coming back to a walk fairly easily. The last few times I have tried to canter have been very very fast and she has been trying to buck again. She tries to cut in and there are jumps in the ring so I have to steer however she seems to take the contact as me telling her to run. If I give her head and try to get her to relax she tries to buck and I have no desire to get bucked off at that speed. Most things I have read about people with similar problems says to only let them canter for a few strides and then bring them back however I can't get her to stop at all, she just gets faster. I hate to try to canter her on such a small circle (because of where the jumps are) so I go around the outside of the ring but I can't let her do that anymore either because she gets going so fast I feel like she is going to fall around the turn. I have lunged her at a walk and trot a little bit but not the canter because I don't feel like I can hold on to her. I don't try to canter that often because there are usually other people riding in the ring at the same time as me and I don't want to make them stop what they are doing so I can gallop around for 10 minutes before I can stop her. At the walk and trot she is fine with the other horses and is fine with them cantering around and jumping.

I have riden a lot of OTTBs however I have never started one straight from the track so I am still trying to figure out the best way to re-teach her. I have made a ton of progress with her in a fairly short amount of time (she has probably only had about 30 rides on her if that) considering I used to get on her and she would bolt and then I would get her stopped and she would walk about 10 steps and rinse and repeat. So I am definitely super happy with her progress but I am not sure the best way to go about fixing the canter. She has been trotting jumps pretty well now and definitely understands leg and rein at the walk and trot. I feel like im kinda at a standstill until I can at least somewhat control the canter. I don't want to jump anymore until I have the canter under control because I don't want her to jump it and canter away (right now they are small enough she just pops over them and keeps trotting) and learn she can gallop away from the jumps.

Another side note is that I have mostly just been cantering to the right. She picks up her right lead and not her left (odd, I know) and when we try to canter left she gets very upset around the turns because she is so off balance. She is pretty supple to both directions but I have been mostly working on just staying straight and keeping it simple until she fully understands the leg and hand completely.
     
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    12-07-2011, 12:35 PM
  #2
Foal
Another side note I thought I should mention.

Something that just started about a week and half ago is that she has been rooting against the bit a little bit and cocking her head to the right. I had her in a single jointed rubber snaffle when she started this so I switched thinking that maybe the single joint had started to bother her for some reason. I put her in a fat french link loose ring snaffle but she has continued to do it. I could understand her rooting if I had contact on her mouth but she does this when the reins are loose. She puts her head down until she hits my hands and cocks her head to the side and opens her mouth. If I keep giving her more rein so she doesnt hit the bit she ends up trotting with her nose dragging in the dirt with me holding the buckle. She mostly just does this at the trot not too much at the walk. My saddle fits her, she had her teeth done in July and the dentist said they werent that sharp in the back anyway. I have not had a chiropractor or massage therapist out to see her but she does not seem sore anywhere although she is tense in her back sometimes. I will probably end up having the dentist back out to double check her teeth but I wanted to see if anyone else has had similiar issues.
     
    12-07-2011, 12:43 PM
  #3
Yearling
I'm not sure about the other other problem you have, but I do know when horses try and gallop instead of cantering, and can't pick up a certain lead it's due to a lack of butt muscle. How often have you ridden her at a trot ?
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    12-07-2011, 12:55 PM
  #4
Foal
She definitely needs to build more muscle. The field she is turned out in has a lot of hills so that has helped her some. I have been riding her 5 days a week giving her 2 separate days off for the last month. I ride her for about 45 minutes a day with about 10 minutes of walking to warm up and another 10 to cool down. I do a lot of transitions as well as circles and serpentines and cavaletties and small cross rails. She is definitely building muscle but she still has a way to go before she can truly use her hind end correctly all the time. I am not expecting her to be able to canter correctly or even pick up the correct lead (which is why I have been focusing on cantering to right since that is the lead she always picks up). I just want to be able to be able to stop her once she is cantering. About 2 weeks ago we had some really nice canters, going about twice around the ring on a loose rein and no bucking and slowing down when I asked her to. The past week though she picks up the canter and immediately speeds up and wont slow down or stop until I get her turned into a very tiny circle while trying to avoid running into the jumps.
     
    12-07-2011, 12:59 PM
  #5
Foal
It doesn't sound like a muscle problem, Lubylol. Tessa would have fallen on her face if she galloped for 10 minutes straight. She is also a ex race horse, so she has to have muscle. Is she fighting and trying to pull the reins out of your hands? Or is she just fast?
     
    12-07-2011, 01:02 PM
  #6
Yearling
Well I suggested the muscle problem because at my old lesson barn, there was this horse that would canter really fast and had trouble stopping because she had literally no butt muscle and it was hard for her to canter.

And what kind of bit do you use ?
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    12-07-2011, 01:15 PM
  #7
Green Broke
This horse needs to be taken back to basics and a foundation built. A foundationis built by helping the horse learn how to balance and use her "ring of Muscles." Cantering is the LAST thing you should even be considering.

Take her back to the trot. Work on circles, spiral in and back out (and look to the center of the circle to keep the radius constant and the circle round.. and the rate at which you spiral in and out constant). Serpentines. Transitions both IN the gait and BETWEEN gaits. You want her to go from walk to trot in a balanced manner... and from the trot to the walk in a balanced manner.

She needs to be worked and taught to extend and contract.. like a spring.. and to work off her hind quarters.

Horses show resistance for two reasons.
1.) they are in pain
2.) they are not balanced because they lack a foundation.

Most fall into the second category.

Take your horse back to the trot and the walk. Get out some Caveletti and teach her to trot over those. When she can do that with them at her normal stride, place them a little higher OR a little wider. One helps her to build her ring of muscles and the other teaches her how to lengthen her stride.

Spend at least 6 months on this foundation. When she will transition from a trot to a walk and do it lightly and balanced.. and when she will readily halt in a balanced manner from the trot and the walk.. and ONLY then.. try the canter.

Remember to work those circles in BOTH directions.. if she is more right handed, you may need to work counter clockwise circles more.

Get a spotter to help you know if she is tracking up better in one direction that the other.. and if she is allowing her hind quarters to drift off the circle in one direction, increse the diameter of circles in that direction until she is more supple and balanced.

Teach her to accept your leg on her and use your leg to support her as well as to push her forward.
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    12-07-2011, 01:23 PM
  #8
Weanling
Quote:
Originally Posted by mygirllola    
It doesn't sound like a muscle problem, Lubylol. Tessa would have fallen on her face if she galloped for 10 minutes straight. She is also a ex race horse, so she has to have muscle. Is she fighting and trying to pull the reins out of your hands? Or is she just fast?
Being a racehorse does not give her the correct muscles to carry a rider correctly. In addition, the horse has been out at pasture the last few months, and not in any sort of conditioning program.

The horse needs to be brought back to basics like the poster above said. Don't worry about cantering for now. Reinforce downward transitions and control in the trot. I think the bucking will go away once she understands better, and once she's more conditioned to carry you.
     
    12-07-2011, 01:56 PM
  #9
Foal
Quote:
Originally Posted by mygirllola    
Is she fighting and trying to pull the reins out of your hands? Or is she just fast?
She doesnt try to pull the reins out of my hands, just the typical you grab hold and so do they. What I usually do with the OTTBs first learning to canter to completely drop their mouth and they learn to balance themselves and they stay slow because there is nothing for them to pull on. The problem with her is that if I drop her mouth she wants to buck. I guess I could go back to putting her martingale on her as the e-brake like in the beginning but she needs to learn to stop from the bit at the canter and she has made incredible progress at the walk and trot. Its like everything goes out the window at the canter though. She will walk and trot beautifully then I ask her to canter and she rips around until I can finally get enough circles worked in to stop her and then she will trot around like an angel again.

Quote:
Originally Posted by lubylol    

And what kind of bit do you use ?
Posted via Mobile Device
I had a singled jointed rubber snaffle on her until this head problem started and then I changed to a fat french link loose ring but there is no difference.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Elana    
this horse needs to be taken back to basics and a foundation built. A foundationis built by helping the horse learn how to balance and use her "ring of Muscles." Cantering is the LAST thing you should even be considering.

Take her back to the trot. Work on circles, spiral in and back out (and look to the center of the circle to keep the radius constant and the circle round.. and the rate at which you spiral in and out constant). Serpentines. Transitions both IN the gait and BETWEEN gaits. You want her to go from walk to trot in a balanced manner... and from the trot to the walk in a balanced manner.

She needs to be worked and taught to extend and contract.. like a spring.. and to work off her hind quarters.

Horses show resistance for two reasons.
1.) they are in pain
2.) they are not balanced because they lack a foundation.

Most fall into the second category.

Take your horse back to the trot and the walk. Get out some Caveletti and teach her to trot over those. When she can do that with them at her normal stride, place them a little higher OR a little wider. One helps her to build her ring of muscles and the other teaches her how to lengthen her stride.

Spend at least 6 months on this foundation. When she will transition from a trot to a walk and do it lightly and balanced.. and when she will readily halt in a balanced manner from the trot and the walk.. and ONLY then.. try the canter.

Remember to work those circles in BOTH directions.. if she is more right handed, you may need to work counter clockwise circles more.

Get a spotter to help you know if she is tracking up better in one direction that the other.. and if she is allowing her hind quarters to drift off the circle in one direction, increse the diameter of circles in that direction until she is more supple and balanced.

Teach her to accept your leg on her and use your leg to support her as well as to push her forward.
Quote:
Originally Posted by ponies999    
I do a lot of transitions as well as circles and serpentines and cavaletties and small cross rails. She is definitely building muscle but she still has a way to go before she can truly use her hind end correctly all the time. I am not expecting her to be able to canter correctly or even pick up the correct lead (which is why I have been focusing on cantering to right since that is the lead she always picks up). I just want to be able to be able to stop her once she is cantering. About 2 weeks ago we had some really nice canters, going about twice around the ring on a loose rein and no bucking and slowing down when I asked her to. The past week though she picks up the canter and immediately speeds up and wont slow down or stop until I get her turned into a very tiny circle while trying to avoid running into the jumps.
I have been working on all the things that you said and she has been doing them. I am sure not to the extent that most dressage people want but she is going to be a hunter not a dressage horse. She does transitions a lot more balanced than a lot of warmblood hunters that I have ridden that win at the 'A' shows in the hunters.

I do a lot of poles and cavaletti with her as well as a lot of transitions and circles in both directions.

From my experience with TBs, raced or not, you can't drill them on something until they are perfect. You are better off allowing them to do something else and then coming back to it and it will be worlds better. She is not completely perfect at everything at the walk and trot yet however I feel like she is more than competent to canter a few strides while working on the walk and trot. My personal opinion is that with warmbloods you can drill them on things but with TBs you will make more progress and everyone involved will be less frustrated if you allow them to do a few new things before the old things are perfected.

As far as taking her back to basics, that is what I am doing. I work on all of the above things 98% of the time I am riding her and most days I don't even try to canter. However, I feel that right now she is ready to start a little bit of canter so I was looking for some advice on stopping her a little better or if just cantering on a medium size circle until she can stay slow is my best bet.
     
    12-07-2011, 02:15 PM
  #10
Weanling
I have two ottbs, and in my experience, if they are being resistant, it means that something is missing in their foundation, so the best thing to do is to take a step back in their training.

Or it could be because her muscles aren't strong enough to stay in a canter with a rider yet. In which case, she just needs more time under saddle.
     

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