Suggestions for a better canter transition? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 9 Old 04-29-2011, 08:29 PM Thread Starter
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Suggestions for a better canter transition?

So I've got a decent canter on cookie, she will relax and just settle into it. That part not an issue. The problem is, she rushes into the transition from the trot or walk.

We become a hot mess for those three seconds it takes her to fall into her canter. Once she gets it, we're ok. She can get herself together then.

I'm not sure how to resolve this. I've done a lot of transitions with her and it doesn't appear to be getting better. She's fairly good about picking up the canter when I cue it, there's about a 3 second lag between when I give the signal and when she's cantering. During those 3 seconds she's flailing around and rushing into it, it's awful.

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post #2 of 9 Old 04-30-2011, 08:50 PM
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How is she balance wise? The best thing I can say would be to work on getting her to raise her back, collect a little more, engage her hind end and then once she relaxes into that then ask for the canter transition. If she runs through the transition, slow her back down, collect her up and try again. Eventually once she starts using her hind end more effectively then you will find that all at once she will just pop right into the canter without running through the transition.
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post #3 of 9 Old 04-30-2011, 09:09 PM Thread Starter
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Balance wise she needs more work. She runs around like a peanut roller. I couldn't get her to drop her head when I got her, and now she drags her nose. Always something!

I don't think her stretching down like that is helping her balance at all. She's not using her butt. I'll try what you suggested and just slow her and keep trying again.
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post #4 of 9 Old 04-30-2011, 09:32 PM
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Ya, you don't really want her almost touching the ground or peanut rolling. If riding western you want her neck to come off the withers just under level, basically as natural for her confirmation as possible. Because she does peanut roll, you don't want to pull her head up with your hands. Work on getting her to trot up to your hands and then use your hands to help balance her. As you ask her to to trot up into your hands that will help bring her head up to a more natural position. Technically the head position is one of the later things you want to work on. Once you get her to collect, raise her back, and engage her hind end then you will find that her headset will come on it's own.
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post #5 of 9 Old 04-30-2011, 09:46 PM Thread Starter
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I ride english. I never tried to train her to peanut roll, in fact when I got her she had a very high head carriage. But somehow this is what I've gotten without meaning too.

I only mentioned the head because I figure it doesn't help her balance. Anyway, thanks for the tips.
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post #6 of 9 Old 04-30-2011, 10:53 PM
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would be fun to see some video. I remember your struggles with getting her to stop star gazing. Interesting . . .

Anyway, does she do this if you ask for the canter on a really loose rein? I mean is it anxiety that might come from you having a tight rein on and you being worried about this scramble happening and trying to force her? Does she scramble when taking the canter unridden?
YOu might try asking for a canter depart in both manners; one having her collected and holding her a bit slower, then cueing and two; just letting her have her head whereever she wants and cueing. Just for an experiment to see if this affects her or not.

It is usually a signal that the horse is not well balanced and that comes from not being able to tuck the pelvis under and reach under herself with her hind legs. I think it is more common with saddlebreds, since they are designed to be in extension more than collection.

Try putting a ground pole down and trot her toward it and ask for the canter right before you get to it, or right after it; (see which works for you). This might help her focus on getting her feet under her.

Get us a video, ok?
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post #7 of 9 Old 05-01-2011, 02:42 AM Thread Starter
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I'll try to get a video. I don't have anyone to take one and no tri-pod but I'll find something to set it on.

That's a great idea about asking before the ground pole. I'll be trying that next time we go out.

I can't say weather or not she rushes more when I try to control her or when I let her have her head. I'll have to test that out. I'm not nervous about it so I don't think it's any tension coming from me, but I do try to hold her in sometimes, maybe that's a problem.

Funny thing about the peanut rolling, she never does it at a canter. She actually has a nice head carriage for most of her canter, after she's done scrambling to get in it. Pretty middle of the road, not too high, not too low. Not collected at all, but I'm not trying for that yet. She only drags her head at the walk and trot. She's such a silly girl.
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post #8 of 9 Old 05-01-2011, 08:37 AM
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If she's not balanced you won't get a clean transition.
Do more work on your walk-trot-walk-trot-halt-trot transitions, get some leg yield and a little shoulder in happening. Get her in self carriage, off the forehand and willing to take some increased weight through her hind quarters.
Establish a half halt in trot - this is not 'pull back then kick forward'. Steady with your core, when you feel her steady, ask her to go forward again into the bridle. Keep your hands dead still and keep an even contact to the bit.
Multiple changes of rein on figure of 8's, 3 loop, 5 loop and 6 loop serpentines. Introduce smaller figures such as 15m circles and then 10m circles as she becomes more balanced.
Its all good and well to ask for the stretch down from the neck, but long and low work is actually much more complicated than just stretching down. 80% or riders will get the stretch and the horse will fall straight on the forehand. You MUST be able to hold the power with your core, keep the hind quarters engaged and ride the horse into the bridle while getting the stretch or it is a useless exercise and simply putting the horse even more on the forehand.
Before worrying about canter, start bringing her up a little. The frame can stay quite long, but she MUST be off the forehand and balanced.

When asking for a canter transition on a green horse, I'll do it from leg yield or coming out of a 10m circle when the horse HAS to be over the hind legs and balanced. Sit quietly in the saddle, simply lift the inside hip and allow the horse to roll into canter. What tends to happen to riders on unbalanced horses is once the horse takes even a single faster or unbalanced step, the rider tenses, hangs on, grips with their knees... which turns into a spiral of gripping and unbalance and tension. The horse perfectly mirrors the rider's error.
Try to think of sitting back on a Harley Davidson motor bike when you are picking up canter, just roll your hip into it and allow the horse to come up underneath you.
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post #9 of 9 Old 05-01-2011, 09:28 AM
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Great post Kayty! I agree!

Yesterday my Lil' Buddy and I were working on our Dressage for the up and coming HT. He was having a difficult time getting his transition from the trot up into the canter, and I was watching him.....

He wasn't setting his horse up. His horse was upside down, behind his leg, outside shoulder was buldging, and he was chasing him into the transition, instead of lifting him up into the transition.

So I had him re-establish himself. Inside leg into outside rein, sitting up tall, open shoulders and to roll his hip getting his tail bone under him enough to drive his boy forward using his hind end. When he had his horse infront of him and under him, he then asked for the transition, and got it beautifully.

What tends to happen to riders on unbalanced horses is once the horse takes even a single faster or unbalanced step, the rider tenses, hangs on, grips with their knees... which turns into a spiral of gripping and unbalance and tension. The horse perfectly mirrors the rider's error.
Very true! Our horses reflect 100% of what we do in the tack. That is why it is important that we are properly positioned so we aid our horses, instead of hinder.

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