Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Chapel Hill, NC
• Horses: 0
Rule out any discomfort, both through the vet and careful examination of all tack.
That being said, it may be something as subtle as your "gearing up" for trouble, thereby creating the very trouble you hate.
Let me explain,
I had a great German coach who would say "the tenser the horse gets, the softer you ride".
Horses are very sensitive to body language. More than we can believe. If your horse gets strong after the canter work, when that time comes, you probably "get ready to deal with it". The horse will feel that and react, as much to that as to the end of cantering. It may be hard to separate what he is really reacting to...the end of cantering or the building of your defensiveness.
I liken it to a staircase. The horse gets tense (stepping up to a higher step) and the rider reacts by getting tense and defensive (stepping up to the step above that, then the horse reacts to this escalation by stepping higher on the stairs, the rider reacts by getting even more defensive/combative.................
The ONLY one who can stop this escalation is you. The ONLY person who can diffuse this situation is you.
Start by practicing being calm and relaxed (even if it is the last thing you really are). Canter your circle, When you do your downward transition, make your self ride MUCH softer (not gear up for the fight). Take your inside rein and go completely slack with it for a couple of strides and then slowly take it back. This sends a message that you are relaxed and trust him not to take huge advantage. Keep sending major messages that you are calm and relaxed.
I have several students with very sensitive horses who will react to tenseness this way. After talking them through these techniques all of them improve.
Try it and get back to us. I wish I could ride him.