Advice on getting into a Canter?
Hello, everyone! So, I ride a 25 year old OTTB, and he's just a sweetheart. However, I can't seem to get him into a canter. I've gotten him into a trot and an extended trot, but not a canter. He'll trot faster, but not go into a canter. Any advice on what to do?
Will he canter in a round pen or on a lunge line?
From what I understand, it is largely based on HER training...how SHE was taught the canter "cue"...
With my trainer's horses, the "cue" is as follows:
Upward transition from a working trot...
1) sit up and deep--not hard--just ensure full contact with your bottom so the horse feels you there;
2) half-halt to ensure the horse knows to be paying attention as you are preparing to ask for a change;
3) apply outside leg AT the girth, while ensuring no inside leg PRESSURE, (this is perhaps where you two are having confusion together-- if you ask with both legs equally at the girth, the cue you are giving is simply "forward", or " faster", and not a change of gait).
4) Give slightly with the outside rein (same side you're applying leg) and apply slight balancing tightness with the inside rein; this gives horse some rein pressure to balance against, especially if new to cantering on a circle/in an arena. As well, between the outside leg and pressure and inside rein taughtness(slight only), this contributes to the desire in the horse to pick up the correct, or inside lead, as you are driving her forward and slightly IN through the application of ONLY outside leg @ girth (either a squeeze or a tap-tap, based upon how sensitive your horse's sides are). The"slight pushing over" effect with the outside leg drives horse to take the initial canter step with the INSIDE foreleg, thus putting horse on correct lead if they are not inclined to pick it up automatically.
5) If you need additional "steam", utilize a cluck/kissing noise AS you apply the single leg pressure AND possibly try verbally cueing with an encouraging
and firm sounding, "Canter!"
6) IF your horse doesn't pick up the canter in the first one it two steps, don't continue cueing as this will probably just drive her into a more forward trot, telling you she doesn't "get" what you are asking (language incompatibility!) & I am told to then transition downward right away to the walk, picking up a "moving on" walk, nothing "pokey", and FROM THE WALK, NOW, ask in the very same manner as above for the canter.
7) If she doesn't pick it up after multiple, clearly and well communicated attempts, (always transitioning downward if you don't acheive canter within one or two steps max, & beginning again, so as not to further confuse her re: what you want), make sure to also then try a change of direction and try from the other side...perhaps your horse was often cantered to the left/right, so didn't integrate the cues properly from both directions? That's one way to find out. Also she could be less likely to pick up the canter and correct lead on her "stiffer" side, thus better INITIAL RESULTS going the other direction?
Finally, horses of varying disciplines or with less formal training pick up canter with a variety of different cues as I was told. Thus if your's is an OTTB, perhaps she had a whole DIFFERENT BASE OF TRAINING than my trainer's dressage and h/j horses!!
**This is where someone with a lot more knowledge than myself needs to step in and help out! I do, however, sincerely hope that something I've said may be useful to you...when the trainers and experts jump on the thread, my guess is we'll BOTH LEARN SOMETHING! :wink:
Best to you!! B2H
I don't know why some make it so complicated.
First off have you eliminated any possibilities of pain or tack not fitting right?
You say that as you increase the pressure at the trot that he only goes to a faster trot. I would just push him more. He can only increase the trot so much before breaking to a canter. When he does canter, let him be. I really would not be that concerned if he does not get the correct lead at first. Small steps are better than trying to get it perfect from the beginning.
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Was certainly not trying to make anything complicated for anybody; just the opposite.
I have just been relearning the canter, all aspects; how to ask, how NOT to ask, how to communicate most readily with your horse what you are looking for.
I could be wrong, but for forum members and horsepersons generally, I believe we've very adequately covered that looking for signs of pain, illness, ill-fitting tack and the need for farriery or dentistry are ALWAYS the first line choices...
I wanted to give AS adequate an answer as I was given by my trainer...it had been 15 YEARS since I'd cantered on a horse, & I had completely forgotten how to cue for such! Seems VERY simple when done regularly, but I can tell you from very recent experience on one lesson horse, trotting faster and faster does NOT NECESSARILY RESULT in the horse "breaking into canter" if they:
A) don't want to
B) are very well-trained to "listen" for one canter cue, and haven't been given said cue! ;0)
Spent nearly 20" "asking" the wrong way at a recent lesson, and definitely WAS getting super-high speed trotting down PAT, but a single 3-beat gait wasn't to be had!:-(
My trainer asked (after allowing me to experiment on my own for experience -sake for a bit first) whether I'd like to "really learn how to cue for canter"? Once I ASKED correctly, the horse VERY CONTENTEDLY picked up a LOVELY CANTER! Viola! :lol:
I assumed the OP had tried "trotting faster and faster" to no avail, as this was stated, so I gave the exact training terms which were given to me and produced lovely results. I am only a few lessons "in" to relearning canter and so with the info fresh in my mind, I hoped it would be useful for Silent!
Can't WAIT to hear if the technique works as well for them as it did for us! :0)
Apologies for double-posting...I wanted to add one more thing.
I agree that correct leads are certainly not of utmost importance when FIRST learning to canter on your horse...that was the information I was given as a youth rider and I was a bit surprised with the emphasis placed on such over recent lessons, until I did some additional reading and thinking about the issue.
Balance is of course the reason we want our horse to canter on the correct lead. There are other reasons, some having to do with ensuring well-developed bilateral body mechanics and strength, others to do with showing-related expectations.
As I see it, IF you can encourage your horse to utilize correct leads from the beginning, you are both that much more well-balanced at a faster gait and thus that much safer. This is in relationship to an already well-trained totally broke horse that I speak.
That's all I wanted to add...thanks! ;o)
Before I learned to canter, I asked some other students in a group western lesson what the cue was for a canter. After some puzzled looks, one lady replied, "Kick harder?"
For my first canter in 30 years, I was riding an Appy who hadn't cantered in a year, and only a couple of times in the last 3. And to be honest, after spending a couple of lessons on how to cue him to canter, the 'cue' that worked in the end was "kick harder".
Once he had cantered a couple of times, he got so excited about it that we had to spend a few days working on TROTTING.
fast forward a year or so, and my mare and Appy have a rather odd cue for cantering. I start by trash talking to them. Then I ask them if they think they are horse enough to canter. By that time, they are getting a bit excited, so a kiss & light squeeze usually send them over the edge and we canter. That obviously isn't a very good technique for shows, public arenas, etc. And that is why it is good to know how your horse was trained to respond, if possible. :-)
Otherwise, kick harder or a swat on the butt might work. Or it might result in bucking. My horses aren't buckers, but not all horses appreciate a swat on the butt...
I'm really excited to hear how it goes! Definitely check back, okay?? I hope you guys have fun!! ;0)
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