BIG canter - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 8 Old 06-23-2009, 11:36 AM Thread Starter
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BIG canter

My new horse is extremely forward at the canter. I'd say its about a 12 foot stride! The problem is that when he's NOT on course he is darn near uncontrollable. When he is on a jump course he is much more adjustable, focused and balanced...he loves to jump.

So how do I help him improve his flatwork. I'm doing lots of serpentines, shoulder ins and outs, etc. at the trot and trying to activate his neck and poll. But when we get in to the canter...he wants to plow away at a HUGE circle and thats it!
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post #2 of 8 Old 06-23-2009, 11:43 AM
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Sounds a lot like my boy. When he first came home he was just like that for the first few rides. We went back to working in just his trot, transitions, halts, responding to my seat and voice, and we just started working his canter back into the mix. He's still very forward but the difference is he will come back to me and will come straight down to a halt when I ask him to. I'm interested to hear the replies to this for more help for my horse, but it sounds like you're on the right track so far. :]

I give myself very good advice, But I very seldom follow it
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post #3 of 8 Old 06-23-2009, 11:48 AM
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Take the canter step by step. Don't canter a full lap until you know he's listening to you, halt every few canter steps, trot. Just mix it up.

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post #4 of 8 Old 06-23-2009, 12:21 PM
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I agree with PicturePerfect. Pick up the canter and after three or four strides trot. One of the best ways I've learned to make a horse stop rushing fences, especially the second in a line some people agree with, some don't.

I go over the first jump and stop straight before the second in the line (make sure the line is nine or ten strides) No turning or anything because that will teach them to duck out. You stop straight, back the horse up to almost the first fence and trot or canter to the second one. It teaches them to treat every jump the same, not that a line means run like a butthead to the second one. It's not a race :)
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post #5 of 8 Old 06-23-2009, 03:40 PM
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Actually... the "average" canter stride of a horse is supposed to be 12 feet. :) At any rated show that's what the courses will be (should be) set at. I find that to be a little long for a lot of horses though.

Anyways. The main question is, what is causing his canter to be that way? Is it just fast like he's charging forward or is it more of a rushed anxious canter? Or is he just really really excited? My first hunch is that he is not truly balanced at the canter, he doesn't really know what to do with his body, so he compensates by getting faster. If that is correct, I'm going to also guess that his trot isn't perfect and balanced yet either. The best way to correct a canter is to correct the trot. (very rarely will a horse be beautifully balanced at the trot and then not know how to canter) You mentioned activating his neck and poll at the trot, make sure you're really working his hind end as well, getting it engaged while keeping him off his forehand. I love love love the fact that you are doing so much lateral work at the trot! GOOD FOR YOU! Other then lateral work, I'd also work on some longitudinal (is that the right word?) exercises as well. Lengthen down the long side and shorten down the short side of the ring, 'go' a couple steps 'woah' a couple steps, extend and collect if your horse is ready. Basically get your horse elastic enough that he is very responsive at going faster, longer, shorter, slower, etc etc. This is all at the trot, btw. Once he gets the idea down at the trot, saying 'woah' at the canter won't be that big of a deal. If he needs something to keep him focused at the canter you can also try putting out a series of poles to get his brain working.
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post #6 of 8 Old 06-23-2009, 03:46 PM
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just a thought to add... every horse has a pace and stride length that is most comfortable for them. I'm showing a horse right now that is most comfortable at a giant (like, WELL over 12 ft) slightly forward canter. He is wonderfully balanced and jumps really well when you find that pace. His previous riders were intimidated by that and compensated by constantly pulling on his mouth, which made him not only pull back but also charge through fences and then take off on the backside of the jumps. Since your horse is difficult to control at the canter, not sure if this is necessarily the problem. but make sure you find the right pace/stride for him. It's not the same for every horse!
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post #7 of 8 Old 06-23-2009, 06:03 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks everybody. Thanks for the exercises. Upnover...I don't think that is his natural stride. Due to the fact that over jumps and cavellettis he prefers about a 9-10 ft spacing. I think it is a charging forward type canter. I have a sneaking suspicion that the previous owner was a very repetitive warm-upper...because as soon as I trot a circle during can feel him going "oh gosh oh gosh we're about to canter...we're about to canter!" So it sounds like I'm on the right track with lots of trot work. I also just two days ago started incorporating ground work to activate that hind end just like you said. We have been working on pivots and forehand turns in-hand. So the verdict is just slow and steady wins the by day. Thanks everybody!
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post #8 of 8 Old 06-24-2009, 03:19 PM
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A 12 ft stride is a regular length of the canter. That's what the distances at horse shows are set for so you should eventually become comfortable riding at that pace. But just practice a lot of lengthening and shortening of his stride first at the trot to get a feel of it and then try to collect his canter stride as well. You could also set up a long line of canter poles set on a 10 ft stride so he has to canter a bit more collected.

The essential joy of being with horses is that it brings us in contact with the rare elements of grace, beauty, spirit, and fire. ~Sharon Ralls Lemon
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