Can't get gaited mare to canter!
I just started working with a gaited mare a client of mine brought in today and I have worked with some gaited horses before and I never had any issues before getting one to canter but this one seems to go to what I am thinking is a rack. Its like a TWH running walk but about 15 to 20 mph from what I can guess. The running walk is supposed to be like 8 to 10 mph from what I have heard. Anyways when I push the horse to the point when a nongaited horse would transition to the canter this one just WONT do it! I guess she is racking from the smoothness and speed I am seeing. Well the question is should I push for a canter or should I just let it rack? My client was thinking it would canter but, I dont think they know to much about gaited horses either.
Yep; this seems to be an ongoing problem with some gaited horses. Some do their lovely "rocking horse" canter, and then others... just have difficulty.
My mountain horse can canter fairly well with his left lead, but on the right lead, he sort of does a "skipping" canter. The trainer I have been working with seems to think he has "too many choices in his rolodex"; he can walk, trot, running walk, pace, rack... And even when he does canter, many times it has an extra foot-fall in there, or he holds his back leg up for additional time. When he does get it right, keeping him in it is also a challenge.
We have had more success getting him to canter from a walk, and NOT a gait. Or, when he trots, if I start to post, that seems to get him cantering as well. Right now he is having more difficulty, coming out of Winter when I have not been able to ride him as much (too much snow here). Being in good shape makes a world of difference. Lounging has also been really beneficial in keeping him in it, and helping him know what is expected.
Also, watch him when he is out in the field. My horse does a perfect canter when he is out running and cavorting in the field, so I know he has it in him. Just keep working on it; what works for some doesn't work for others. I will be watching this post to see what works best for you! :-)
Gaited Horses CAN canter!
This horse doesn't know how to use its hind quarters period and I would further guess the "rack" is more of a pace that you claim he's displaying.
Work this horse in a round pen on the ground. Let the horse canter at liberty and learn its balance.
When its time to get back into the saddle, work in the round pen. This will help them. Turn horse at a 45* angle, close outside rein (hold tight) while signaling with inside rein to cue horse into lead while swipe with outside (riders) leg back behind. Don't forget your seat position is also important, keep your weight off the departing hind foot and keep your pelvis forward for forward movement.
Practice makes perfect and reward for the slightest accomplishment.
I agree with Gaited, the horse needs to learn a balanced canter on the ground first before you try it in the saddle. She's probably never been asked to canter under saddle before so she's just doing what she knows how to do.
If it is smooth, I will guarantee she's not pacing...a hard pace feels a lot like a broken washing machine, nothing smooth about it.
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I screwed up my horse big time when I "trained" her to canter the way you are doing, by just pushing her into it, a couple of years ago. And I also let her have to many choices of gait, which was another big part of the problem. At one time she was running walking, pacing, trotting, crossfiring, and other weird things that I don't even know are gaits or not. So we re-tried it the RIGHT way last year and are still working on it now. It's working way better.
Instead of pushing from the running walk, you might want to have a specific cue to canter that you teach from the ground first, as other people have said, and then transition that from the ground to the saddle. My horse will go right off into a nice lope 90% of the time now, instead of just going faster in some weird gaity thing, or pace-- pacing is NOT the smoothest thing...
My horse did the "skipping canter thing" for a while at first, too, or she'd be cantering in the back and running walking in the front, or cantering on the left lead in front and right in back... or whatever else. All I did was take her right back down to a walk, set her up to canter again, and re-ask for it. When she did it correctly I let her go on for a few strides and do my best to keep her in it and then had her come back down to a walk and reward her her by letting her rest a minute.
This is what I learned from my highly experienced instructor, so I hope it might help you :)
Hct, Thanks for the info! I will work the mare from the ground today and see how it goes. Like I said I will only have the horse for 30 days so in that time I might or might not get the horse that far along but I will get everything in I can. These gaited horses are a little different!
I am having the same issue with my (new to me) mare right now. She has never been asked to canter and so when pushed goes into a pace, which is next to impossible to ride through. I know nothing about training horses but I will tell you what my trainer says to do, and he's worked with TWH for over 40 years. Because they have to push off from the back end, asking for a canter going uphill will often net the results you want. Reward her if you get it. I have tried this with an older mare who didn't/wouldn't canter and it did work. Also, he says to never start a canter from a running walk, only start from a walk. Not sure if any of this is helpful to you but thought I'd post it anyway as this is what I'm dealing with right now as well.
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