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Thrill Ride 05-11-2013 10:38 PM

A Bomb Exploding Canter? HELP!
Sassy is a full thoroughbred that had racehorse training but never raced.

I'm using her as a western pleasure, english pleasure, and gaming horse. We have our walk and trot/jog down really nicely, goes on a loose rein, collects, ect.. But when she canters it turns into a pretty much gallop. I have to keep contact on her mouth so that she doesn't go into a full run. It literally feels like I have a bomb underneath me that is about to explode.

I practice in a grass pasture, but we are going up to an arena soon. This winter I had practiced with her in an indoor arena and she seemed to have issues when we cantered on the short sides. She would start like crow-hopping on the short sides because it would take her maybe 3-4 strides on those walls. When I canter on her it is so open, and I get an adreanaline rush where I pretty much go numb and don't remember much. Its so powerful.

After you canter for a while she settles down, but any ideas other than doing circles to get her to listen?

She is really loose on the bit except when you go into a canter. She still neck reins and listens but she tightens up and tries to take control. We have complete control in the walk and trot. She is extremely good with leg cues and can go from walk to canter, stop to canter. Downgrading she is good sometimes on the canter.

I ride her mostly in a curb, she doesn't care for a snaffle. But I still work her in it but either one she acts the same. She just had her teeth floated and chiro work done.

Any exercises?

aforred 05-12-2013 01:09 AM

Serpentines. Transitions between gaits. Transitions within gaits. Lots of standing around.

It sounds like she needs to learn to relax, and I have an exercise I love for that, aside from the above. When working in the arena, or on a large circle, when she starts to speed up or gets chargy (is that even a word?), make the circle (or a circle) smaller and smaller until she slows down. Once she slows down, take her back out. I always start this exercise at the trot until they know what I want, then proceed to the lope. It's where I'm at with my little mare who's not real comfortable carrying a rider at the lope yet.

Foxhunter 05-12-2013 01:48 AM

Get her trotting on a circle, canter one stride and back to a trot, settle canter one stride, trot. Get her so that she thinks only one canter stride is wanted then go to two strides. it takes a while but it works.

The fact that you have to hang onto her is telling her to go.

SorrelHorse 05-12-2013 03:23 AM

Downward transitions. Horses tend to lose their minds, especially green ones, at the canter. Even my little dead broke mare can get chargy on a fresh day.

If she tenses and braces on your hands, back her off the bit. Stop her. I don't mean trot/walk/stop either, I mean say "whoa" and if nothing happens get all kinds of physical and back her up fifteen feet like you MEAN it. It'll only take a couple o times before she starts respecting your hands and feet. Remember not to release her until she softens to the bit either, and stand still and relax right after you back up.

After a little of that, go on up to the canter for two or three strides then immediately back down to your jog for a long lap. Then canter two or three strides, back to the jog. It is best to take him very collected here, really bumping him up with your legs. Don't let him fall out of perfect frame.

Another thing to do is establish a rate command, like us barrel racers do. "Easy", or "Hey" which is just a "Slow it down" but don't stop cue. Couple it with really squeezing with your seat and half halting. Practice a lot of half halts at the walk and trot too.

And, finally, if he really refuses to listen to you take a lot of time at the walk/trot and soften soften SOFTEN until he gets so soft you can bring him back with the twitch of a finger. I know you said he is good there anyway but sometimes that reinforcement coupled with everything else will help.

Good luck.

palogal 05-12-2013 10:36 AM

Are you sure your saddle fits her? TB's are pretty notorious for being hard to fit. Just a thought.

Saddlebag 05-12-2013 10:49 AM

When you ask her to canter she's thinking race. She may not have entered a race but the track plays a large part in their training. You can also try working her about six feet off the rail and when she speeds up turning her toward it. She'll stop at first but show her how to complete the turn and go in the opposite direction. This work gets her back end under her (collection) even if only for a few strides. When she relaxes allow her to walk in a straight line. You may be working the rail a lot at first and it always takes at least 3 times of consistent work for the horse to grasp what's going on.

Thrill Ride 05-12-2013 11:12 PM


We did have a saddle fitter come out. He said my saddle fit pretty well and said I had to use a cutback saddle pad or else it puts pressure on her withers. But he said its the cloesest thing to fitting her except for making a custom saddle.

At the trot if she starts getting a bit fast I saw "slow down" and she will just go right down into a slow trot. But canter.. yikers. I have a video of it. I just don't know with her and on short walls, she just has to collect a lot and I don't know how to help her.

aforred 05-12-2013 11:16 PM

Practice half-halts at all three gaits. If you can ride her in a big, open place, I would work on her lope there.

Thrill Ride 05-14-2013 09:37 PM


I worked with her today. Going counter-clockwise she did EXTREMELY well. She has never worked that well with cantering. She used her hindquarters perfectly, slowed down a ton, and rode on a loose rein. Clockwise, she had issues with making a circle, she kept trying to dodge out at one place. But what I noticed with her is she is 100% better if I put a full set of boots on her.

BlueSpark 05-15-2013 10:38 AM

I ride OTTB's fresh off the track all the time. I actually feel much safer(dodges rotten fruit) that on a qh. I whole heartedly agree with tansitions, transitions, transitions. I was working with an arab who was known to get very strong/bolt in a canter. the two things that helped were transitions and clinton andersons 'cruise' excersize. you basically put your horse at the speed you want, and circle them down, using only one rein, when they speed up. In the case of the arab, I picked a big feild and everytime he tried to go from a nice slow lope to a faster pace, we circled back to a slow lope. just doing the cruise excersize and some transitions, in an hour he was paying close attention. he had run away with his rider on the way home multiple times, but I was able to lope towards home, pick up my reins and ask for a stop with my seat and we skidded to a halt.

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