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Sharpie 12-07-2013 07:09 PM

Improving the canter
With winter upon us and our nice large field iced over, we're back in the arena for riding. Unfortunately (or fortunately) this has highlighted how much my gelding's canter is not really any good at all. Our indoor is probably 50x100ft.

We ride limited distance endurance and he is a good willing boy. Nice sensible gelding in good shape, w/t/c/whoa, sidepass, etc. He responds well to leg pressure at a walk and a trot, and while cantering straight or down a trail. Or even on (very) large circles. He knows how to take the correct lead, though sometimes must be 'reminded' to take the right lead if that is the one you asked for on the straight as it is his less favored lead.

However, ask him to move from a circle at a trot to canter and everything falls apart- he starts getting rushy, ignoring leg pressure and tries to imitate a motorcycle. Just off balance and wonky. I don't know how to train/retrain/help him as most of the lesson horses I've ridden are so far past this stage of training that it's a different matter entirely. I would love to do the large circles he is good on and spiral down, but the indoor is rather small and won't allow for that and the outdoor is a soupy, icy mess that is frankly dangerous. We can trot our small circles and do figure 8 and trot serpentines comfortably and relaxed.

So, good HF folks, what exercises, drills and trailing do you suggest I do in order to improve things? I would love to be able to do a nice, controlled, balanced circle each direction in the indoor, and I have all winter to get there. :)

tinyliny 12-07-2013 07:59 PM

it sounds like he does not feel comfortable on smaller circles because his balance might not be so good there, and that is dependent on flexibility and strength IN the bend.

I'd work on getting correct walks and trot on the circle, and lots of spiral in/out at walk and trot, and skip canter altogether. When he is really good at the spirals and leg yields, both direction, I bet he'll be better able to pick u and hold a canter on a circle.

Lexiie 12-07-2013 08:03 PM

Definitely second what tiny said!

My lessons for the past two months have consisted largely of large walk/trot circles. It's made a huge (to me) improvement in our canter.
My mare had the same problem as your boy

Sharpie 12-08-2013 01:27 AM

Sounds good, and definitely something we can do. We actually did do some trotting spirals today and I was very pleased with how well he did them. We'll work on perfecting those for a while and maybe some more body placement stuff too. Any size circles you suggest working with, or just keep it varied? His motivation in the arena is somewhat lacking compared to on the trail, particularly at the walk. I suppose this will help make me address that and get a good forward walk going too. Might have to find a crop, we'll see I guess.

Good to know his issue is probably such a simple one! (Though I do not confuse simple with easy to fix! LOL)
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Lexiie 12-08-2013 10:06 AM

I was doing anything 20 meters and bigger, because that gave us the most space/time to get things right.

I'd say do 20s, anything bigger, and then if you go smaller just really watch him. If he gets really messed up come back out a little and work there.
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