Cantering getting on my nerves
First to anyone who doesn’t know already, I have had my horse Sammy for about 2 years now. He is an ex barrel racer who didn’t do so well and I feel that was possibly due to not very good training.
Over about the last 4 or 5 months I have gotten him to the point where about 95% of the time I have complete control over where he is going and I have him easily keeping a consistent speed. Also if walking or trotting I feel I no longer have to worry about him taking off the slightest touch. I can ride a loose rein or light contact.
He has had about a month off due to me not being able to ride. I have started riding him this last week and a half with some trotting and lots of walking. He had also had a couple of days off throughout the week and a half due to my job and the weather. Today I had done the same as previous but I also decided to add one 20m circle of a cantering. That was all I wanted to do but then he was unco-operative the whole time, so I felt I had to keep pushing him until I got what I originally wanted.
I ended up doing a lot of cantering because he would canter a few strides down the long side of the paddock but as soon as the corner came up he would either stop or do a tight spin doing a 180 and try to keep going. The whole time he was ignoring my legs and I felt a bit rough on his mouth because a couple of times he was heading straight for a fence. I think he gets a bit overexcited when asked to canter and works himself up into a bit of a state. When he didn’t want to canter he would keep doing a fast trot that is impossible to sit or post to. I didn’t have access to the time but I think it took me about 15 to 30 minutes to get the one circle of cantering and stopped as soon as he did it.
I’m just not sure if I really should have kept pushing him since I don’t think is fit enough for that much work but, I felt I had to keep at him until I got what I wanted. I didn’t think what I originally asked would have been too hard on him.
I have thought of just letting him canter until he slows down on his own and calms but it is almost impossible to canter with him as he ignores my legs and seems to go straight into racing mode even though there is nothing in the paddock. He tries to run hard on the straights and then slows in the corner and goes around an imaginary barrel.
I find it quite frustrating because he only does it when cantering. I have tried asking for a canter coming into a corner and he won’t if you are too close to the corner for his liking, though it isn’t a sharp corner at all. I have also tried riding him in circles in the paddock but he will only do tiny metre circles and I can’t get him to go out into a larger circle.
I do get the occasional lesson from a friend and that is how he now has a reliable walk and trot but it is hard to organise when we are both free at the same time. So lessons are few and far between. I hope that made sense, so does anyone have any opinions or ideas for next time?
Sounds to me like he is having balance issues. Go back to the walk and trot and get him working for you there.. off your legs and using his ring of muscles. Get him balanced and working off his hind quarters and balanced. Get him really sensitive to your leg at those speeds. Get his head lowered and his back relaxed.
When a horse can collect and extend at the trot and can transition from the trot to the walk and the trot to a stand (and transition up as well) without fussing and in a balanced way, the canter will be much much easier.
The object here is go get the horse 'pliable' and relaxed.. working off the hind quarters and compressing and extending like a spring at the walk and trot... getting him relaxed and able and balanced. When you get that you will find the canter is easy.
Of course I will toss this in.. I am only saying this off your description. I might see the horse and say something different. I am saying this in response to what is the most common issue and that issue seems to be what is going here from your description.
I was thinking it might be something to do with balance. He use to rush
trotting really badly. I just let him trot on a loose rein continuously and let him find his own balance whilst I was just a passenger.
This is what has helped him so much with his trotting. He no longer rushes the trot unless he trips occasionally. I have also found since his trot has improved his canter has a little too, especially the transition. He no longer jumps into a canter, it’s just ok we’re trotting and now we're cantering, it’s quite smooth.
I also don't plan to try cantering again for awhile after today’s episode.
Just out of curiousity, can he do 20 metre circles trotting? I would say do lots of circles, figure-8s and 3-loop serpentines at a walk and trot (make sure you mix it up; keep him thinking!). This will help him to learn to bend and maybe he will figure out barrels aren't the only pattern out there so he better pay attention to you because he doesn't know what you will ask of him next! :P
Once you have mastered that, then start trying to get a consistent canter. Start out asking for small canters and give lots of praise if he gives you a nice canter and you still have control. I would probably do a lot of transitions at the beginning. Then once he is consistent in his canter (ie. can canter around corners without doing his weird stuff, maintaining a speed, listening to you) then take it down to a trot, do some 20-meter circles, ask for a canter, try the 20-meter at a canter.
Yes he is able to do 20m circles trotting.
Lope him up, roll him back, lope him up, whoa, lope up, whoa, back, etc. You have to switch up so he starts to listen to your cues.
As far as 'taking off' at the slightest touch - you have to consider some horses respond to an ounce of pressure, some need 10 pounds of pressure for the same cue.
Time, time, time.
Thanks and when I said takes of at the slightest touch I meant before he would of speed up from any pressure, even if I was just turning him. Everything seemed to just mean faster.
Horses sometimes go faster to compensate for feeling out of balance. Maybe he's having an issue there.
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Balance issues is why I stopped on him althogether for moths and just focused on getting his trot good. He can do a nice ground covering trot now that isn't rushed and is nice to ride. He is also able trot well when lunged whereas before he had to trot as fast as he could.
I think is canter has improved a bit since his trot has improved. I did notice yesterday that though it was fast and not relaxed it wasn't as fast as what it used to be, and the transition was good everytime he didn't speed up to run and jump into at all.
I'm sorry I just realised that first sentence makes no sense ^^
It meant to say I stopped cantering on him for months.
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