Slowing the canter

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Slowing the canter

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    10-26-2009, 03:34 PM
Slowing the canter

I'm sure this is posted somewhere so if it is just point me there. I need advise on how to slow my horses canter down. He just thinks he needs to go fast and a country pleasure horse is not supposed to go as fast as he is going. Oh he is an 18yr Saddlebred. Anything would help, i've tried the round pen, and just cantering half the arena, but that just makes him worse.
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    10-26-2009, 03:49 PM
I would suggest just letting him canter. Pick a spot on the horizon and go for it. Or, if you only have access to an arena/roundpen, do laps at the canter. When he starts slowing of his own accord (and he will), praise him while he's cantering (it's the slow canter you want to reward, not the downshift to walk or trot), then let him come to a walk and rest, and catch his breath.

Be sure to balance this with transition work to keep his impulsion up and his weight back.

Cantering just half the arena will make him worse, because he'll start anticipating the starts and stops, and that the canter trip will be short. So many lesson horses get wired about cantering, because they only canter for short bursts for the benefit of learning riders. When they don't know whether you'll be cantering for 30 seconds or 30 minutes, they slow down pretty quickly.

My only caveat with this is that with his being 18 years old, and my not knowing how gracefully he's aging, you may want to take some precautions with his legs and joints. My sister will literally lope her 14 year old QH for 10/15 minutes at a time, just a pleasant, ground covering, controlled canter. That length of constant canter may be a bit taxing to an 18 year old's joints. I'd recommend support boots, perhaps a maintenance joint supplement, depending on your horse.

Good luck, and welcome to the forum!
    10-26-2009, 10:37 PM
I give a plus to the support boots. Also, my mare is pretty fast with her canter too, but when I get her to slow down, she has the nicest lope! Here's what I used to do, before I got her to do it on her own... I would just let her canter for a little bit (however fast she wants to go) like maybe a few laps around the arena and a few the opposite direction. By then, depending on her condition, she should be a little relaxed now. If she is still faster than you want her to be, kinda tap the reins back ( just pull back extremely light to where she slows down a bit). I hope that helps. Just remember not to pull back to hard to where she stops or else the same thing will just keep happening like it is now. If you are unbalanced at the fast canter, you might want to either have someone else ride her until she is only loping, or suck it up and if you fall you fall :) (thats how I taught myself. You learn quicker that way by the way) haha
    10-26-2009, 10:46 PM
Green Broke
I would suggest just letting him canter. Pick a spot on the horizon and go for it.
I've actually done it and it worked, but it was irritating that I had to let HIM do what HE wanted to do FIRST. :P
    10-27-2009, 12:20 AM
Yeah, he has been on a joint supplement since he was 14, he has been on ichon for almost a year, and ever since i've been with saddlebred trainers we always wrap their front legs, and splint boots on the back. Plus I never go into the arena when the footing is bad, and we doing a lot of stretching, flexing, and massages whenever I do or don't ride him.

He would canter all day if I let him, tonight he was a little bit slower than normal, and since it's getting cold and has been raining we can't work on our hill which helped him slow down a little this summer. Plus he has his days, sometimes he canters really nice in his full bridle, and other times he is horrible, and vice versa with the snaffle, only sometimes stopping doesn't come very easy with the snaffle. That is where natural horsemanship has helped on the one rein stop. I think he would be happy if all I did was let him canter everytime we went on a ride.

As for balance uh... not a problem at all, and i'm not afraid of falling off, my friend and I would canter out in the pasture all summer I think he has his balance down pretty good.

Sometimes I think i'm just going to have to deal with him being fast. He has been like this for five years, and nobody has been able to help:( If he wasn't so big and older my one trainer wanted him to do barrels he is super fast and can turn on a dime!
    10-27-2009, 12:24 PM
How about perhaps really slowing your seat down when he's cantering faster than you would like?

Here's a good video that really explains how to best use your seat to influence the horse's speed and stride. I'm assuming that you're riding saddle-seat (please, correct me if I'm wrong there ), but the dressage concepts are still applicable .

Maybe if he feels you using a "******ing" seat when he gets speedy, perhaps in conjunction with a correct half-halt to rebalance, you may get some reaction from him. Really work on transitions, especially within gaits, especially within the canter (see how slowly he can canter corrctly, no 4 beating, no lope, a good canter for your discipline, while minimizing hand action, especially with the curb rein on the full bridle, and when he does a couple strides reward him by letting him move out a little) Ride seat, leg hands. He may need to build up the muscle to carry himself slower.

I might also suggest really building a good stop in a snaffle if he gives you trouble there. Doing the same kind of transition work in walk and trot, holding the reins on the buckle, and using a distinct "******ing" seat to be your first cue for a downward transition or halt before going to the snaffle rein can really build a "whoa." I also like the reining horse method of halt then back up to help the horse get his hind end under him (not quite to the extent of a reining skid-stop, but it does get them stopping without landing on their forehand.

Hope that was helpful!
    10-27-2009, 02:33 PM
That video is awesome, and if I were to add something, I would say that breathing is a key part of a "******ing" seat. If you breath from your diafram, and exhale slowly it will relax your horse and you can get to the point of stopping him with a just an exhale.
    10-27-2009, 03:01 PM
Super Moderator
Originally Posted by Rachelfailappraisal    
That video is awesome, and if I were to add something, I would say that breathing is a key part of a "******ing" seat. If you breath from your diafram, and exhale slowly it will relax your horse and you can get to the point of stopping him with a just an exhale.
This is how I define use of seat, too. Only I use the term "resisting seat" instead of ******ing seat. You are resisting the forward movement thereby ******ing the forward movement.
    10-29-2009, 11:55 AM
I work with saddlebreds and 'letting them canter' doesn't do anything. They've got a lot of energy. :P My suggestion is work on slowing down and speeding up and stopping at the walk. When he's absolutely perfect at the walk, move to the trot. When you ask him to slow down, his trot should be like a western jog and when you ask him to stop, he should stop right then. When he's perfect at the trot, practice at the canter. Canter 5 steps and his extended canter, then 5 steps collected canter. If he wont slow down, stop him and ask for the canter again. When you ask for the canter, sit back and relax, don't tense up and don't collect the reins too much or he'll get anxious. If you ask for the canter and again he starts out too fast, try doing three steps canter, then stop. Then 5 steps collected trot, then three steps of canter until he slows down.

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