My 5-year-old is having problems cantering.
I rode Norman today (he's my 17hh American Cream), and he was great until I asked for the canter. I don't think I'm doing it wrong, but I'm not sure. My weight was equal on both seat bones, sitting up square, I had him on the outside rein and leg, then moved my outside leg back slightly and squeezed with both calves. We were at a trot, and he just sped up until he broke into a canter. He didn't really canter, though. He tossed his head, bucked, and ran into the wall. Completely out of control. How do I get him to just canter nicely? And how do I teach him to not just trot faster?
Also, he's really heavy on the bit. At first I had a plain jointed snaffle, but he plowed right through it and completely ignored my aids. Now he's in a knife edge, but still no dramatic improvement. I'm going to try a Dr Bristol if I can get a hold of one big enough, and a kimberwick as a last resort. Any other suggestions?
My mom is getting fed up with him and doesn't feel comfortable on him. If he doesn't improve, she's probably going to end up selling him, and that scares the crap out of me. I'll try just about anything at this point.
Help? :( Thanks!
trot. trot. and more trot. then trot some more. when your horse is properly balanced and muscled for the canter, he will canter. until then, KEEP TROTTING! until he can achieve self carriage at the trot, he won't be able to canter.
my students are all sick of me saying this, but you don't get better canter by doing more canter. you get better canter by doing a better trot. good luck!
KNIFE EDGE?! Holy s**t batman....
Um, back to a simple snaffle or three piece snaffle and teach him to carry himself. As long as he's looking for you to carry him, and you bit up, he'll lean, ignore pain, and lose balance. There's no positive results to achieve there. He needs to be in a SIMPLE BASIC bit and learn to balance from the beginning - at the walk and trot - and should not even attempt to canter until he learns that. If you're not already working with a trainer, I highly suggest one. My 17.3h 1800 pound 6 year old Clyde cross (he's now 8), started and STILL goes in a happy mouth loose ring. Can he get heavy? Sure. And when he does I drop him and ask him to carry himself. He's only in a three piece bean snaffle b/c they don't make a happy mouth in a 7" (and yes he's REALLY that big...).
I havent got anything to suggest but good luck! and I agree with CJ82sky, work with him i nthe trot first.
Yea, I agree just keep trotting:)
The problem is, when I loosen the reins, he goes faster, especially at the trot. He likes to rush and you really have to haul back to get him to slow down.
When you do ride, start simple. walk. halt. walk. halt. Keep doing that until he's soft and responsive and will halt off of your SEAT and LEG aids and the reins become a simple soft accessory. Once that's accomplished add in trot, and bring him back to walk after literally just 2 - 4 strides of trot BEFORE he has a chance to rush and scoot forward and lean.
Sounds like overall your horse is on the forehand, and not balancing himself, and rushing and leaning due to a lack of balance. A harsher bit will just create more discomfort and not actually fix the problem, but create more as the horse tries to figure out how to lean/balance while also avoiding the painful metal object in his mouth - causing more rushing and leaning. I'm thrilled to hear that you're taking out the harsh bit(s) and also suggest going as SOFT as possible - especially a french link or a bean three piece, as many horses brace against a simple snaffle but learn to accept and salivate and reach for a three piece bit due to equine mouth conformation.
Good luck and please keep us posted on your progress. I'm sure that with a softer bit, some longing and balance exercises, and starting with simple walk halt transitions teaching him to respond to SEAT not HAND, you'll be back to trotting balanced. Until he's trotting balanced and can come back to the walk and halt with just seat and leg cues, I highly recommend against any attempt at cantering under saddle, as a horse needs to truly be moving independently of and balanced with the rider before they will be able to canter slowly and balanced.
I'm currently training a coming 4 year old for a client that's a clyde/tb cross and she can get heavy and lean. We're just barely doing canter work and only for very few strides as she learns to balance, and focusing on trot/walk transitions in the interim to build up muscling, topline, and self carriage. She's been in training with me since November of 2008, had been started under saddle before coming to me, and just now starting to begin canter work - on a very limited basis. Correct canter (and trot, and any under saddle work) takes time, so be patient! :)
Rushing usually happens if the horse feels like he's off or losing his balance. Give yourself a position check. Make sure you're not leaning or doing anything that you might not be aware of to throw him off balance. Like the others said, you need to back up a bit. Go back to the walk. With soft rein contact, take him to an energetic walk, and get him back to a slow walk via your seat alone. Sit tall, brace your back, stop following his motion, find something he understands for "slow down" other than using the reins. Once he's consistently listening to you at the walk, then start practicing at the trot. If he ignores you, you're better off stopping him by disengaging his hind end (one rein stop) rather than pull on the reins. He's obviously already figured out that he's much stronger than you and knows he can just lean on the bit and plow along as he wishes. You need to get his mouth out of this equation. A stronger bit definitely isn't the answer. He needs balance, probable some muscle to carry himself better and soft contact in the reins. Don't throw the contact away, but don't let him hang on the bit either. The other thing that might be going on is, that he is 5. No matter how good a rider you are, a green horse needs a little extra help. If he's heavy on his forehand and rushes in the trot when you ask for the canter, half halt him to the point where he's practically walking and then ask again. Another thing you could try is to leg yeild him into a corner and then ask for the canter when you get there. He'll get there with both bend and better balance that way. Good luck.
I'll definitely be trying side reins when his lunging problem is fixed. Thanks so much for the advice!
So it sounds to me like you have a few problems going together at once. First of all, he's unbalanced, which makes him want to rush and lean. Secondly, by putting a harsher bit in his mouth, you aren't correcting the problem. They can only lean on something if there is something to lean on, meaning if you are constantly holding him up, he's going to constantly lean.
Secondly, lunging would help your horse enormously, because it promotes self carriage and proper muscle development. So work with him on it; even if it means having someone walk beside him so that he understands he has to keep going and not turn in.
Thirdly, your horse is big. My guy was 17.2hh by 5 years old, and you can bet that he was uncordinated. Be sympathetic. That's a lot of leg and weight that they have to learn to cordinate, and if they aren't balanced at the walk and trot, they aren't going to be balanced at the canter. Make sure you ask on the long side, do not make tight circles and just encourage him to go forward when you are asking. Make sure your aids are clear when asking so that he learns that he needs to jump up instead of rush into it.
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