Horse doesn't want to canter...
Since the weather has gotten better, (YAY!!!):D i've obviously been riding more. We usually start out slow but when we get to a neighboring field i'll let him canter for a bit. (Maybe mostly cause i like to canter ;) Lately though when i try to get him to go he'll just trot and not go any faster. i know it's not cause he's hurting or anything, he's had regular vet visits and just got trimmed a few days ago, but he's been known to be stubborn, and he's pretty lazy, so i'm wondering if it's his stubbornness. Am i mean to try and make him canter? i'd like him to exercise more than just a ride down the road. is there something i can do to make him WANT to get up and go?
Sorry if this didn't make sense......:shock: Any advice would be appreciated.
I dont know much, so my opinion isnt worth a cent!
If its been a while, he may be out of shape and off balance. Try asking him to start a canter up a small hill and see if he's willing. Hills can help with balance.
And if the hill does help, that could mean condition and balance, so only canter a few strides. Return to trotting for conditioning with short bursts of cantering.
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The first thing I always advise to do when something drastic changes in a horse's behaviour under saddle is to check for pain problems - first and foremost the saddle fit. Not wanting to canter is a huge red flag that the saddle may be pinching the withers/shoulder or sitting too low on the wither.
Ditto on the saddle fit...... I would check that first!!does he canter around nicely on a lunge line without tack?
How firm is the footing? Fields can be very deceptive this time of year. What looks firm isn't always that good underneath. Sounds like your horse is sensing this and being careful. Our fields look dry on top, but once you get above a walk, they aren't there yet.
It's been pretty dry here, not much rain, so the footing is fine(I've walked it myself to be sure) i have two saddles i use for him, i guess i can try and see which he responds to better? im pretty sure it's not pain and we haven't been slacking on our riding, so he's not out of shape or anything. sometimes when ask him to canter he trot for a bit then stops and starts going his own pace. :P
It's amazing what a slight pinch can do though... Have you ever had a wrinkle in your sock that starts rubbing inside your shoe when you're walking around? We take saddles too much for granted, in my opinion; horses are generally stoic creatures and they cannot tell us directly "HEY! My saddle HURTS!" so we must (as their caretakers) watch carefully for signs of discomfort. Horses change shape as well, which can make a saddle fit okay one season and not the next. As they build (or decrease) muscle tone, that can change the fit of the saddle.
The canter is the only unequal gait, having 3 beats to it. This is the gait that can tell us a ton, because of its unevenness; many pain or saddle fit issues don't crop up until the canter, because it rocks weight from the outside hip across to the inside hip and outside shoulder, finally onto the inside shoulder - this more extreme localized pressure can tell us quite a bit.
Years ago, a friend of mine was testing saddles on her mare. The mare was extremely picky, and would be fine with 80% of the saddles at the walk and trot, and be VERY opinionated at the canter or - if they got that far to it - jumping. I kid you not, she tried dozens of saddles to find the one that worked for both her and the mare.
Anyways, just an anecdote to sum up my thoughts.
I'd be thinking pain too. It could be related to your riding mechanics, maybe you are twisting too much, or your hands are not steady?
Could be issue with teeth, poll, legs. Could be saddle fit.
Could also be something has happened in stall that has caused soreness.
But until you rule out pain, best to lay off of cantering is my thought.
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