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Lunging and trying to teach to canter
I have a new horse that is green. Don't know much about his background. He's 6 yrs old and has had some professional training I know but former owner didn't do much with him in the 2 yrs she owned him. He only walks and trots but doesn't canter. I've been trying to teach him to canter on the lunge.
Problem 1: His circles on the lunge are more like eggs. He always goes wide in one particular corner and ends up pulling so hard his body goes out and his head turns in and he stops and looks at me. This happens when we start at the trot but does get better with repetition.
Problem 2: On the lunge, when he stops and looks at me in the corner, often he will change direction, as if this was taught. I know some train this but I don't. I have the lunge line threaded through the near side of bit, over the poll and attached to the opposite side of bit. So change in direction is never automatic for me.
Problem 3: Because of his habit on the lunge with corner, even if I do get him into a canter, he never makes it around a whole circle because he pulls out.
Problem 4: he is half arab and appears to be quite comfortable with extended trot so getting him to canter regardless is difficult.
I have tried asking for canter while riding. This just doesn't work. He gets frustrated and just continues with faster or extended trot so I'm ideally trying to teach on the ground and also to teach by verbal cues.
Problem 1: It sounds like he is pretty stiff and is having trouble maintaining a bend. How is he when you're riding circles? Does he do the same thing?
Problem 2: My horse used to do this too. He definitely has a favorite side to travel, mostly because it's easier for him to stay balanced. It also sounds as though he doesn't have enough impulsion from his hind end (hence the desire to trot faster and faster instead of canter).
Problem 3: How big are your lunge circles? I started my horse on the lunge to teach him to canter as well, until I quickly figured out that he simply needed to build some balance and confidence before he could lunge a circle with correct bend, without popping his shoulders in or out, or transitioning downward from a canter to a trot or a trot to a walk.
The solution might be as simple as bigger circles! But then again, I don't know how big your current lunge circles are or if he has some sort of back soreness caused by tack or a previous injury.
Just remember, if his previous owner didn't work with him very often, he's going to have balance issues. He's going to be unfit. Sometimes it's okay if things take a while to learn. Plus, if he's only six, he may never have been taught to carry himself correctly.
Thanks. Good point about the unfitness. I'll have to remember to cut him some slack. Anway, the circle on the lunge is pretty large. I'm thinking is issue is mostly behavioral and a bad habit. I'll concede that part of it is balance too. He actually does the same thing when riding but always in the same spot of the ring that he does this with lunging. It's analagous to the horse who always likes to veer towards the "out" gait everytime he goes by it. Using outside leg helps a little but that is another issue we are working on...getting him more responsive to leg cues. Spurs might be better but ironically he is also touchy with leg too. He just gets crabby...puts his ears back if you pester or ask too much and a dressage whip used on the flank and he has occasionally cow kicked at it. How does one make a horse more balanced?
Problem 1: His circles on the lunge are more like eggs. He always goes wide in one particular corner and ends up pulling so hard his body goes out and his head turns in and he stops and looks at me. This happens when we start at the trot but does get better with repetition. Go smaller at first, until you are sure he is focused and listening, then lengthen your line. If he stops without being asked, really get after him. If he is pulling that hard on a bridle, I strongly suggest going back to a halter and working on softness, then lunging in a halter until he is soft and balanced, then back into a bridle. All its doing right now is teaching him to have an extremely hard mouth. If he really wants to be near the gate, then lunge him there, and rest on the side he doesn't like.
Problem 2: On the lunge, when he stops and looks at me in the corner, often he will change direction, as if this was taught. I know some train this but I don't. I have the lunge line threaded through the near side of bit, over the poll and attached to the opposite side of bit. So change in direction is never automatic for me. see above
Problem 3: Because of his habit on the lunge with corner, even if I do get him into a canter, he never makes it around a whole circle because he pulls out. He is not ready to canter on the lunge. If you do not have a nice, soft, responsive horse at the trot, the canter will just magnify his issues. At the moment he is not soft, responsive or obedient enough to go up a gait.
Problem 4: he is half arab and appears to be quite comfortable with extended trot so getting him to canter regardless is difficult. Check for soreness first, as that can make them reluctant to go up a gait. If the saddle fits, and he is not sore in any way, it is one of two things(regardless, the fix is the same.). Either he has been ridden by someone who is afraid of a canter, or really wanted to encourage an extended trot, and thus pulled him back into a trot everytime he tried to go up a gait, or he is lazy/out of shape and doesn't want to go into a canter, which may be more difficult for him. My arab loves to canter.
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