Working with a bad canter...!
I just recently started leasing a new horse. Shes a 14.3 HH grade tri-colored paint pony mare, and shes around 20 years old. My trainer has worked with her on her canter, but she has never cantered her under saddle, because when she does canter, her hind legs will be on the opposite lead as the front, shes not balanced, and it just isnt too pretty. SOO.. i have to work with her on it, ive been round penning her (or free lounging) her for the past few days, but it looks like its going to take more skill then that.
What else can i do to help get her canter better, so i eventually can ride her under saddle at the canter..
any suggestions would be great!
Have you tried using ground poles or something to help her start thinking about where her feet are? They might help her get more aware and more balanced... Good luck! =)
If she can't be correct on her own, I doubt at 20 years old you will be able to correct her. She probably has a physical issue that makes it hard for her.
Has a vet looked at her?
Vet vet vet!
I had an old horse who physically could not canter on his left lead.
Also, at 20 you really have to think about drastically reducing the workload of the horse. Many horses at this age should be restricted to mainly walking under saddle and all round penning and lunging should be ceased in order to maintain soundness and good joint health for a longer period of time.
If you continue to ride her hard well into her 20s, she will probably not stay even pasture sound and will have to be put down much before her "time".
Not necessarily true, on the age part. I stopped riding my gelding when he was 32, because I felt like he deserved a good retirement. Not that he couldn't be ridden. He was perfectly sound, and passed at 36. Same story with my grandmothers gelding. Same age, and she quit riding him at 30. It depends on the type of care they receive throughout their lives.
As for this horse, I would have the vet out, pronto. If she canters in the pen crossfire, then she has a health issue going on. If its only under saddle, then it still could be a health issue, along with training/rider issue.
Candy does not have any health issues. The vet has looked at her. Its her past. When she was much younger, a 'large' man fox hunted her, and jumped her well over 3 and 4 foot fences, and made her do things she physically could not do. She is only 14.3HH and after he was 'done' with her, he sold her to my trainer, and she just hasnt had time to work with her on it. So she has just never been corrected on what she had been doing wrong her whole life basically. Its not that shes lame, or old or joint problems. the person who rode her before i got her didnt know what the heck he was doing.
And no, i havent tried cross poles yet, but will definitely try that!
You can just teach her to be aware of all her parts. She knows to canter correctly in the front, but somehow along the way she's lost touch with her hind end. lol
A good exersize is to put her on a lunge line, small enough of a circle where you can touch her with the end of a long whip. Start out by touching her everywhere with it, to make sure she isnt a whip shy horse. If she seems okay with the whip, ask for a walk and just gently start to tap her on various, random parts of her body. Tap her inside hock to see if she will reach that leg due to the aid of the whip. If not, you may need to tap harder to get her to re-awaken her senses to the back part of her body. Do that on both legs, teach her that she has 4 legs, not just 2. Send her into trot by tapping that outside hock or wherever you get the best response on her outside leg. You want your timing so that as that outside leg is about to lift, you tap, the leg lifts takes a step, them comes back down, you tap, the leg lifts and takes a step, etc etc etc. That will encourage her to straighten herself so that she can canter correctly behind. It will also get her to engage that old hind end of hers and eventually put her into a whole package.
If she comes back down to walk, allow it, then ask for trot again. Once y ou feel you can easily send her to trot with a tap on that outside leg,you can tap for a bigger trot, and then you can slowly let the lead out and see if that helps her at all. It will take a while, wont be a quick fix so be patient and allow her to find it with plenty of time and patience. This problem wont be fixed by force or by rushing her, you have to teach her how to use herself again.
She will need to build up the appropriate muscles, things will feel weird, so just go with the flow and dont expect too much. You will get there.
Trot trot trot.
You don't get better canter by working at the canter. You get better canter by working at the trot.
If the horse isn't balanced, they likely need more muscle to support what you are asking - in this case canter balanced, with a rider on their back. To achieve this, the horse needs a decent amount of proper muscling which is best gained at the trot. Trot work and interval work is most helpful, as it will allow the horse to build both cardio and muscular fitness, and as the horse gets more fit, the horse will be more balanced and be able to canter with ease. When ready to canter, you should start to feel the horse get more forward, and it will be easier to ask for the canter as the horse will be more willing when more fit and balanced.
It's fairly common to see horses working/living well into their 30's. At the barn that I started riding at, they had a 42 year old and a 45 year old horse, and they were both doing walk-trot lessons when I left.
I know that you have to set the horse up to canter on the right lead, check out a couple of books just make sure you set her hind end up properly, and than you can get the right lead, I know perelli, anderson, fellows like that explain it really well.
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