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ebrides 07-17-2012 12:33 PM

Green Canter on a 7 yo?
I called about a 7 year old horse recently and was told the following:

The horse is sensitive but has a good temperament. The only thing going on right now is that the owner feels the horse still has a very 'green' canter-- she will 'suck back' and break gait and is not very balanced in the canter when in the arena on the flat.

When the horse is ridden on a slight uphill, straight up a trail, the canter is fine. When the horse is pointed at a fence in the arena (by her H/J trainer- not the owner), her canter is fine.

I'm not sure what to make of this and I haven't personally seen the horse but I'm wondering about a horse that has been under saddle at least 2 to 3 years that still has a 'green' canter.

Does this seem like something that could be overcome with training or is this a sign that the horse is badly conformed and /or not very athletic?

kitten_Val 07-17-2012 12:41 PM

Well... Both my horses had "green canter" (trot too in some way) when I started dressage lessons. It was not the ability or health issue, but lack of knowledge and training on my side. :wink: So if the owner is not very experienced rider, horse doesn't have proper muscles and training, then yes, I'm not surprised he can be unbalanced.

P.S. The trainer riding one of my horses now (as I can't ride at the moment) says the canter is a natural gait for one of my horses. And indeed it's lovely when I got it balanced and rhythmic last year after bunch of lessons and proper riding.

equiniphile 07-17-2012 12:44 PM

We would really need to see a video and a few conformation pictures of her. It sounds to me like she is downhill, either by conformation flaws or inproper riding/dumping on the forehand. This is further confirmed in my mind when you say she's fine going uphill, when she can put her weight back on her hocks and use herself properly.

I bought a 12 y/o two years ago that had one better than a green canter--she had no canter at all. She would speed trot and if you really kept on her, you might get a canter stride or two, but I felt it was a training and obesity issue as she had excellent conformation. I took her to a huge hilly field and worked on balance up and down hills and on flat ground. It took about a year to get her weight down and build up the muscles to be able to canter foor long periods of time in balance, and now it's her favorite gait.

ebrides 07-17-2012 01:23 PM

Thanks... I really don't want to wait a year to be able to canter :)

Later, I thought since the H/J trainer can get the horse to canter to fences, can she also get the horse to canter w/o fences? I will have to ask because maybe it is partly rider error.

kitten_Val 07-17-2012 01:33 PM


Originally Posted by ebrides (Post 1602066)
Thanks... I really don't want to wait a year to be able to canter :)

If horse is in a good shape it takes less than that to develop a nice canter. :wink: equiniphile mentioned her horse had obesity issue, in this case you really want to take things slow.

Valentina 07-18-2012 03:40 PM

A canter such as this can be caused by several factors:
1.) Horse is unbalanced - either has not been cantered very much OR has a VERY LARGE canter stride and rider needs to learn how to help horse balance better.
2.) Horse gets behind the leg and falls into a trot - rider error
3.) It's a physical issue in horse

Since horse is fine uphill (haunches are engaged) and jumping (again - haunches are engaged) it doesn't sound like a physical issue for horse. Sounds like rider didn't know how to fix the issue in the horse, allowing horse to break down to trot when it became unbalanced rather than slowly building up carrying muscles with lateral work (LY, SF, SI, HI, HO) and LOTS of (proper) transitions into/out of canter.

ebrides 07-18-2012 08:33 PM

Thanks-- all good points (and I'm patting myself on the back for knowing all those acronyms :)

In that case, it might be a good idea to go see this horse and see for myself.

By the way I love your DWB! Beautiful!

KarrotKreek 07-18-2012 09:01 PM

I just remember an old saying: "Look at the trot but buy the canter."

The canter shows you so many more things that are going on with a horse. Personally, if the horse is having issues with the canter, and you have other options equally suitable or better options, then pass on it.

~*~anebel~*~ 07-20-2012 01:32 AM

If the horse won't canter except to a fence or on the trail - well then it's probably not going to like dressage very much!!

I do like cross training (ie jumping, trail riding) for keeping a dressage horse fresh, thinking, and to help with minor issues (ie I used fences to help my horse relax about the changes - he got very uptight and high strung about them, through a course of jumps he was more focused on the jumps than freaking out about the changes), but if the horse wont canter in the first place, well you cant set up jumps in your dressage test... I'd pass.

Skyseternalangel 07-20-2012 03:22 AM

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You can ride a horse... or you can ride THE horse.

If you don't do it correctly, then they'll never improve. It could be the horse's personal dislike for cantering or it may be rider error.

Who knows.. just don't unless you train/school it yourself I suppose.

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