Teaching to Canter? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 9 Old 06-18-2010, 02:42 AM Thread Starter
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Teaching to Canter?

I'm presently riding a standardbred ex racer, who is insanely smart! We have walk and trot down, doing poles like its nothing, but everytime I ask for a canter, she just speeds up. I then went back to the lunge line and did transitions on that, but still the same thing.

What can I do to help her understand what I'm asking?
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post #2 of 9 Old 06-18-2010, 02:46 AM
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Make sure you're not holding him back with the reins.
I don't know your whole situation but I would probably just cluck to him and keep that pressure with your legs then release it when he breaks into a canter. If he gets too heavy on your leg you may want to use a crop behind your leg.

Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world. ~Harriet Tubman
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post #3 of 9 Old 06-18-2010, 03:02 AM
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He doesn't speed up because he's 'smart', it would actually be easier for him to canter he just doesn't know it. He speeds up because he's unsure and unbalanced.
Was he a trotter or a pacer? Standardbreds are notorious for being difficult to train canter. I would invest in some lessons with someone who has worked with standies before to help you. Many people who buy standies ott often end up being stuck in a walk/trot rut because they don't know how to train canter.

He needs to have enough muscle in his hind quarters to make the transition into canter, so I suggest lots of and lots of transitions to start with. Teach him leg yield in walk and trot so he learns to step across with his inside hind leg and into the bridle.
The way I like to teach canter is to put them onto a 17m circle with inside bend, leg yield back out to the track and as you touch the track, give your canter aids while the horse is still in leg yield bend. So far I've found that the best way, as the horse is in the correct bend to be able to pick up the canter lead and can just jump into it.

Can you lunge him? Teaching him to canter on the lunge is the best way if they're unsure in canter as your added weight on his back isn't going to help his confidence particularly if you're not perfect balanced. Put him on the lunge and get him cantering that way so he can work out where his legs go and that he's not going to fall over. He'll build up muscle and confidence on the lunge so that he can canter under saddle after a while.
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post #4 of 9 Old 06-18-2010, 06:35 AM
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Excellent post Kayty.

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post #5 of 9 Old 06-18-2010, 08:29 AM
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There are a lot of standardbreds in my area, and they generally make good mounts. However, the ones who did race are often difficult to train to canter, because all of their early training taught them that it is NOT ok to canter. Also, a lot of them are oblivious to leg aids, again that not being part of their usual training.
That being said, I don't have too much actual advice to give, lol. Some of the people around here never get their horse to canter consistently! I think maybe they are giving up too soon? I was riding a standardbred for a friend quite a few years ago who had the same problem. This may sound base, but I got him to canter by riding as if he were. In other words, got him trotting fast, then started rocking forward and back. (Not Too hard, don't want to throw off his balance completely) Uncomfortable and a bit disconcerting for the horse, within about 8 strides he 'broke gait' and started to canter. I immediately praised him, and he continued to canter the rest of the way around the field. It was the funniest, gawky canter I ever sat, but canter none the less, lol.
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post #6 of 9 Old 06-18-2010, 04:40 PM
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I just adopted a Standardbred and am going through the same thing. I found this advice pretty helpful, so I thought I would share:

New Vocations Racehorse Adoption Program Blog Archive Part IV: Trotting & Cantering
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post #7 of 9 Old 06-19-2010, 01:10 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for all your posts guys, I do work with her on the lunge, but she continues to speed up and not break into a canter. She was a pacer, but she rarely does it. I am working with a trainer all next week to try and get some improvement, who knows this could all just be me! I'll keep you posted!
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post #8 of 9 Old 06-20-2010, 01:33 PM
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Yes please! Keep us posted. I would love to know what works for you two. It may be different for each horse/rider, but it's good to hear what works for certain pairs. Best of luck!
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post #9 of 9 Old 06-21-2010, 08:34 PM
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i had the same problem with a pacer I owned previously. I found teaching him on the lunge with voice comand really helped when I rode him. To get him to canter on the lunge I just kept telling him the word I choose and just kept it up till he broke into the canter, then lots of praise. I wouldn't try and ride him in the canter till he has established it on the lunge becasue they need to find their balance before placing your weight into the equation. Don't worry about how fast he is going in the trot till he breaks into a canter. When he learns the canter then you can work on slowing him down, for the transition. My boy in the end had a lovely canter, but took a good 6mths of regular work
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