Collect the Canter
My horse is typically really good with keeping collected and listening. Although, when I ask for a canter, she's good for about 2-3 strides then attempts to take off at a full out gallop. When she does that, I normally one-rein stop her, and circle her until she walks slowly again and repeat.
When I ask for the canter, I normally have worked her for a good 30 minutes until she's in a sweat, so that way I know she's listening to what I ask. It's just when the canter is asked, she reacts by trying to go too fast. Are there other ways that I can get her to collect, and stay slow? I only managed to get her collected once and that was by circling her and all that jazz. Is doing what I am doing correct? Or am I doing something wrong and and fix it up? Tips for getting her to stay slow and collected at the canter would be great.
Have you tried lots of transition work? Keep her mind busy by asking for lots of transitions from walk to trot to walk to canter to trot, etc. Many horses that rush, rush, rush through the canter have minds working a mile a minute and have a lot of nervous energy. My mare is like this. At the trot especially, I have to keep her mind busy by asking for leg yields, direction and bend changes, transitions, and half halts all throughout our schooling sessions. When you feel her canter speed up and get out of control, ask for a transition, a leg yield, half halt her; anything to get her attention back on you.
What happens to your seat when she canters?
So the running indicates horse is unbalanced. First look at your trot/canter transition. Is horse stepping underneath iteself at the trot (feels like front legs are coming up?) I'm betting not. Start by asking for canter - onloy go about 1-2 strides then ask for trot. Ask for trot by using inside leg slightly behind girth (think leg yield away from inside leg) for a step or 2. This gets horse stepping underneath itself and make transition to trot smoother.
Working tons of transitions and not staying in canter very long will build up horses muscle over time such that you can lengthen (after a week) canter to 4 strides before asking for trot, then slowly to 6 strides, and eventually to a complete circle at canter. Idea is to NOT keep horse cantering past where she can comfortably hold the canter.
I wonder about your seat, because very often you see a horse jump a bit quick into canter, and the rider's seat tilts forward and lightens - then the horse takes off as a result.
I'd be riding right back on my seat bones, and ask for the canter only when the trot is absolutely balanced and in front of the leg. Make sure you can get a reaction to your half halts, and that your transitions between halt, walk, trot and down again are spot on. Then ask for your canter as you are leg yielding out of a 10m circle. Half halt, half halt, half halt, then think walk and come back to trot. Get your trot balanced again and repeat.
If she takes off and wants to run onto her forehand, WALK. She needs to stay with your seat and not run through it. When you get the walk together, go back to trot, get the trot together, and try your canter again. Most horses don't take to long to get the hang of staying with your seat in canter if you make them walk or halt every time to try to barge thorugh you.
Great response Kayty - saved me from having to type! :D
Thanks, this is greatly helpful. Also, since I've been taking lessons finally, I have noticed that now she's slowing down. The issue was with my seat, because I believe she said I myself was off balance, which threw her off. Now that I have everything all balanced, her transitions from walk > canter and trot > canter are pretty much flawless with no problems. When she tries to go fast, I just tap her reins and she normally comes back in and listens, and slows right down nicely.
Thought it might be your seat :) That tends to be the most common cause of issues like this - happens to all of us. I often get a bit sloppy, thinking about what I'm going to make for dinner, and all of a sudden I've got a horse on the forehand bowling along in canter. Oops!
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