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Help with canter training
I have a horse who was found to have one leg shorter in the front, affecting his muscling and making it difficult to obtain a right lead canter.
He now has lifts and I've been working on strengthening the right side. I feel it's working, and he's now going into the right lead easily.
The problem I'm having is that it seems as though when I get ready to cue for canter on the right lead, he pushes to the right so he's several feet off the "rail", and will do circles away from the sides.
I finally made some headway by doing squares - I found he was finally going straight lines more and not leaning to the inside like he was.
My question is what can I do to get him to stop moving to the right on the cue, and to stay in line? It's really difficult to leg yield him to the left while I'm cueing for a right lead canter - rather a confusing set of instructions to say the least. We don't have this problem at all to the left, so I'm thinking it may still be getting him used to using the right side correctly. Any thoughts on that?
Any advice on how to get him up straighter and not moving to the inside while trying to get that right lead?
Thank you in advance!
Could be too much inside rein you are using or a misplaced outside leg.
More information is needed.
Also if "one leg shorter in the front"...has a farrier looked at this to look at corrective shoeing maybe ?
Questions like yours need a lot more input before a valid answer can be given.
I am working on this as well with my three year old - my problem is rider error. I shift my hip and slide my left leg back to cue for the right lead, but my right leg isn't firm to block her right shoulder, so she drifts on me to the right.
The fix (for me) is to back her up, shift her hip to the right, make sure I have her shoulders up and I have my right leg on her to block that shoulder drift, THEN shift my hip and press with my left spur to cue for the lope. If she steps off I praise verbally and let her move along as long as she stays balanced and under herself.
I had so many problems with my riding... been riding without a trainer for most of my life, but found as I started my mare that I was causing a lot of problems with my position... the younger ones aren't strong enough to hold collection, and will take advantage of poor rider position - it's good to fix yourself before bad habits become fixed in your horses movement... especially with his physical challenges...
Maybe just sign up for a lesson or two so a set of eyes on the ground can see what you are doing?
Sorry, I had put "he now has lifts" and didn't detail enough I guess. Yes, the farrier has seen him as well as the vet and he now has a lift on the short leg. We've been working on strengthening exercises for the right side for a few weeks and he's much improved in that before he was very difficult to get into the right lead at all, and when he did he'd generally cross canter and slip back. Now he's consistently taking the right lead, so that is great improvement.
It may be rider error on the depart, perhaps leg placement on that side... however, he starts to drift at the half halt that precedes the actual cue, so there's something he's expecting. I may not be able to figure out what I'm doing until I get in for another lesson so somebody can actually observe, hopefully next week.
He also continues to do circles way off the rail long after the cue... and as well, will try to drift at the trot, though I can correct that more easily than I can at the canter. I did find that doing the arena as a square, with corners, rather than an oval did push him over MUCH better and he seemed to get the idea.
Usual cue, outside leg just behind the girth, but he is pretty well voice command trained so it doesn't take much pressure.
To answer, I have been taking lessons, thought not for a month or so. He's green, though not young. Been ridden just trail for several years until I bought him last May. He's 8.
Though my horse doesn't have a shorter leg on one side.. he did do something similar when I asked for a trot from the walk. He'd start to drift to the middle of the arena or he'd turn sharply for a circle. The key is to fix it before it happens. Use more inside leg to keep him on the rail and outside rein to steady that nose. He probably does it out of habit, or to avoid doing what you're asking.. once you start applying those aids BEFORE he strays, he'll start to keep more on the rail and won't be a backseat driver (as I like to call it :P)
It would be helpful to know if he strikes off in the front -- sort of hopping in to the canter. Most horse that come off the rail on the departure have been cued in such a way that they do not bring their hips in and push off into the canter from behind.
If a rider rides in a balanced seat and uses the inside leg to hold the horse's ribs and shoulder out while dropping the outside leg back to bring the horse's quarters in slightly off of the track, the horse should push into the inside lead striking off with the inside hind foot. This stops the very ugly front lift off of a horse hopping into the canter. It also keeps the horse on the rail. In addition, it prepares the horse for proper two tracks (as opposed to leg yields) and prepares the horse for flying lead changes.
I have severe scoliosis which has contributed to my spine problems that now keep me from training and lets me ride very little. It has hindered my advanced training for many years in that all of my horses are as crooked as I am when we get to advanced work (like Tempe lead changes on a straight line.) It took me a long time to figure out that my back was making all of my horses change better right to left than they changed left to right. I literally had to shift my entire seat to the left to get a right lead change that looked anything like the right to left change.
But, without seeing you ride the horse (from behind), I would guess that you are bringing his front in to the center instead of his hind end; and I would guess that he is hopping into the canter in the front.
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