Teaching an OT STB to canter - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 8 Old 06-29-2012, 01:15 AM Thread Starter
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Teaching an OT STB to canter

Hi guys. So I've owned my Standardbred for 6 months now and she used to be a pacer. We learnt to fluently trot in a month! But, cantering is another story. I've tried lunging her every day, the crop to get her cantering, but she always breaks into a pace. Sometimes she even canters with her front end and paces in the back. I cantered her up hills, I let her open up into a gallop and she will gallop but she will often switch her back end into a pace and/or there is not stopping her! She starts to think spead is the only thing and goes from gallop to pace and trips over her feet.

To the lovely standardbred owners, please tell me your stories on getting your Standardbred to canter. I need help. I'm getting discouraged.
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post #2 of 8 Old 06-29-2012, 07:06 AM
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first, how long was your horse on the track? If they were on the track for a longer period of time they are going to be more set in their ways as far as not cantering. I also wonder what kind of trot you have? Do you have the nice floaty slow trot, a medium trot and the racing trot?

Do you have a trail nearby? I have heard and found that sometimes the easiest way to get them to canter is to open them up on a straight away and ask them. Its not going to be comfortable but its going to help. Right now, it sounds like your horse does not know what you want of him/her. As a result, he is trying all the things that they use to want (speed and a pace). You need to let him know that a canter is what you want. A straight away on a trail would be one way to do that because its going to be harder for him to balance himself on the turns. In the arena, you are asking for leads and that could be confusing him. What you want is just the gait right now no matter how ugly it is. You can refine it once he realizes that that is what you want. So thats one thing to try.

I would in the ring focus on getting those three established and collected trots before asking for a canter. I only recently found one of my project standies wanted to canter. We have been working on doing that in a controlled manner. I am sort of in the same boat where we can get it going one direction and the other direction he just sort of falls apart. I am not sure what he does but is very smooth feeling, fast and not a canter.

I had one trainer teach a standie to canter by putting him on a small lunge line circle 10-15 feet and hit him with the lunge whip until he cantered. I would not recommend this. When I asked this horse to trot he would just canter. He was also a bit of a head case on the lunge line. You want to have smooth transitions between paces and not just one speed.
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post #3 of 8 Old 06-29-2012, 12:54 PM Thread Starter
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She was on the track for 8 years.
We have the nice flowy trot, the medium trot and we have the quick trot down path. She knows what I want because I ask for it and she picks it up smoothly, from the walk, trot and the pace. LOL But then she seems to loose it. I have galloped her in the arena and she does great, but its to slow her down I have issues with. Aswell as I do canter/gallop her on the straight trails when I have the chance but shes clumsy, so she trips over her own feet and looses her balance and falls into the pace.
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post #4 of 8 Old 06-29-2012, 09:09 PM
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hmm. It almost sounds like she is unbalance or having trouble balancing herself. I would wonder how many strides does it take for her to loose it? Do you keep the pressure on when she is cantering? I would suggest that if she looses the canter after four strides ask her to stop after three. Then build on that. I think you have to keep at it. It sounds like you are doing the right things without seeing her in action. I mean she spent 8 years at the track and only 6 months with you. She has made tremendous progress in a short time. Others might have better advice.
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post #5 of 8 Old 06-30-2012, 12:04 AM Thread Starter
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Thank you. If i gallop her, she can go arround 3 times. Looses it on some parts but picks it back up herself. To canter its to get her into it, fully- no pacing in the back end. She can hold that for Im pretty sure 4-5 strides then looses it. I think i will do just that. Thank you for the advice will let you know how she's doing with that. Im going to start lunging her before riding aswell or lunging every other day to get her balanced out.
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post #6 of 8 Old 07-01-2012, 03:22 AM
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Can you get her to canter on a lunge line? Make the circle very large by tieing two lunge lines together (only if they are not the heavy kind) or walking with your horse when you lunge her. It is easier for horses to canter on a curve, and without a riders weight.

I taught my boy to canter by teaching him a voice cue on the lunge line, and then transferring that into the saddle and connecting the voice cue to the normal riding cues.

When you are lunging, do not use any tack or aids. Let him figure his legs and balance out on his own. If the doesnt pick up the canter on the lunge, try lunging him over a small jump. When he jumps (or is landing really), give the cue, and move so that he can canter a whole circle without jumping the jump again. He will drop the canter after a faw steps at first, but just keep practicing ower a few days/weeks until he canters a few circles smoothly. then replace the jump with a ground pole, and give him the voice cue to start the canter when he is going over the pole. this is when the voice cue is put to a test because he doesnt have to canter any more, but he should read of your body language and have the balance by this stage to canter when asked to.

Once he canters without a pole, you can start lunging him with a saddle and some sidereins, to simulate cantering with a rider. Just like when riding, do multiple transitions. Once he is balanced a smooth this way, you are ready to try it under saddle.

When you first ask for the canter under saddle, have him on a large circle and in a nice slow but rythmic and powerful trot (you need to feel like he is redy to go, but you are containing that energy). Ask for the canter. If he runs, half halt, return to the earlier tempo and try again. Sometimes it is easier to ask from a walk, but depends on how well the horse understands the voice cue. the first canter will be fast and unbalanced, but let him run. After a few circles, sit down deep and ask him to slow down and trot. If he breaks gait when you ask him to slow down, dont stress, he just isnt balanced yet to canter slowly. you are really just asking him to slow down in order to make the transition smoother. Ask for a slow and balanced trot immediately after the canter -dont let him run at the trot. Do the same on the other side, and then reward by finishing for the day.
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post #7 of 8 Old 07-01-2012, 04:08 AM
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Teaching an OT STB to canter on the straight is extremely difficult for them and they will get unbalanced and resort to pacing or a 4 beat canter.

Do you have access to a roundyard?

You can how on her and on a circle ask her for the canter once she gets is even a few strides lay on the praise and repeat this.

This is how i taught my OT STB mare to canter and she no longer paces.

Let me know how you go :)

<3 Curly, you are my life! You are my whole world. <3
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post #8 of 8 Old 07-01-2012, 10:38 AM
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I don't have much to add, my daughter's stb, we lease, was already trained to canter when we got her. However she would pace instead of straight to a trot during transitions. And when we canter, her back is so hallow... And very unbalanced.
First, I wouldn't suggest trying to canter on a lunge line. When we push Suzie to canter on one, she ends up breaking and pulling on the it because she can't balance in the circle, keep in mind she's 17.1 hh.
Because it's likely that she'll hollow her back and be unbalanced while at the canter I would suggest doing a stretchy trot, ground stretches, and collection. And when she does canter (even if the back is pacing and the front is cantering) reward her because she's trying. Later on when she gets to be able to canter for a long time you should only reward for a real canter but when you're starting...
With Suzie we have problems doing a down transition from the canter because she goes to a pace. This is only natural, at first, so accept it till she can canter fluently.
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