relaxing/balancing the canter
Hi... I'm new to the forum. I've hit a brick wall with me green horse at the canter.
I've owned Primo about 6 months. Prior to my ownership he was a trail horse and possibly a show horse (for what I have no clue). He's a bit a of a sensitive boy, but is very smart and generally aims to please. It's very clear that he has had gaps in basic training and may have been mishandled. We have gone from super stiff horse that rode with his head in my face at all times to a nice low frame, on the bit, with good cadence, and working from behind. He LOVES to ride out and jump. We are preparing to event Elementary (lol, I know most don't prepare for elementary, but we've had a long process) in Oct, and it's a canter test... BN A. Umm... so here's the issue.
He's a perfectly pleasant horse, long swinging gaits, ears floppy, till we canter. Clockwise that transition is ok... one stride of scrambling, but he's started balancing,, his ears are pinned back though and the stiffness through the neck and back is absurd. Because he's so angry it's difficult to circle or practice any of the test moves. Counter clockwise, it's all bad. He scrambles into the canter, leans like a motor cycle and honestly scares me that he will fall in the corners. Add to this the pinned ears and stiffness. Now this is all in the ring (indoor arena).
Outside... it's a bit different. He's still a bit high headed, but his mouth isn't clenched and he relaxes in the canter. The transitions are smoother, no awkward moments. And he's highly steerable, 20 meter circles (and smaller) are no problem. He also jumps happily, and canters very softly to and from fences. Really that is what I want, that canter I have when we jump.
My normal routine is to lunge 4 days a week and ride 5 days. He generally works 6 days a week. So I lunge for 20 minutes in side reins, he is cantering in the side reins (though with similar results and lots of pulling at the canter). And then ride for an hour. For the most part we work on the flat either in the indoor or in the field. Once a week we'll hack out, jump in the field, or just trail ride. The day he only gets lunged, I work on the canter transitions, I've found that asking over a pole has produced the quietest canter. Currently undersaddle when cantering I've been breaking it down on the circle, cantering a few strides, trotting a few, concentrating on a quality canter.
I feel like we've been peddling in place for a while now. My trainer really thinks we should be moving up to BN, but the dressage isn't there (obviously) even if he can handle the rest. I am taking dressage lessons on the side, but at this time shipping him there is not an option.
WOW... long. Thanks in advance.