Teaching A Greenie To Canter.
Ok, so Dougal has done very, very little canter work. I've had him for 6 months now, but have only very recently started cantering him in the school due to many other issues we've been sorting out.
He was sold to us as a green 4 y/o [he is now 5] 6 months ago who was getting well established in walk and trot, but had done very very little canter work.
He bucks a lot going into canter, but has improved a lot. [We've had all the obvious checked out, he's not in pain.] and i've cantered him loads on hacks. I would really like to start working on his canter as he's competent at walk and trot.
He can pick up his right canter lead a majority of the time, but i cannot get him to pick up his left [which is strange, as he is a lot more supple on his left rein in w/t]. I would LOVE some advice and good excersises on how to teach him to canter nicely, and on the correct leg. He is not particulary balanced at cantering in the arena. He's starting to understand the cues much better now, thanks to all the cantering on hacks, which is useful. I just want a bit of guidence on how to help him along, properly.
Before I ever start cantering I teach side passing. My guys are strong in side passing so picking up a lead is easy. By teaching side passing he knows to move off a leg. If I want the left lead I use my right leg behind the girth. He moves off the leg while at the same time I hold his front steady or slight to the right.
This burries the right lead leaving only the left open to pick up.
can he canter on the lunge line both ways ?
RiosDad, by side passing do you mean moving away from the leg? He's been getting better at moving away from my leg, but still isn't as responsive as i would like him to be. How would i improve on this? He's very stubborn and it can take him a while to pick things up.
Gypsygirl - I haven't really lunged him as i am not an experianced lunger and green pony + green lunger = total disaster, as i have found out, haha. My instructor has lunged him before and he cantered on both reins, but could not pick up his left lead very easily at all. He may have done it a couple of times though?
To teach a horse to be light sometimes you have to be rough. I touch him lighly on the flank and if I get no response I would bump him hard with a spur. Before long he learns to respond to the light touch knowing the harsh one will follow.
People that are always gentle end up with horses that are not responsive to a light touch.
I agree with rios dad. Try leg yielding (similar to sidepass, just a little more foreward with the sideways) him to the right into a corner and then picking up the left lead when you get the corner. Moving the horse sideways opens up his inside shoulder and should get you the lead you're asking for.
As for helping him canter better, keeping him on a very large circle will encourage the natural bend he will need to stay balanced. If he does become unbalanced and the canter falls apart, just bring him back to walk or trot and give him time to regroup before asking again. The last thing you want to do is get him frustrated because he's feeling unbalanced. Assist him as necessary to help him balance, but try to stay out of his way as much as possible so he can figure it all out. He may only get a few good strides each time, but if you keep at it, he should make progress after a few rides. Good luck.
You really aren't teaching him to canter. You just need to get out of his way and ALLOW him to canter. Sometimes when a horse bucks going intl the canter it's because the rider is asking him to go then when he does the rider says "hey not so fast". Then when the horse goes back tothe trot the rider says "hey speed up dummy". Introduce one thing at a time. If you want him to canter then let him canter and don't worry about getting the nicest frame or the perfect speed. Just let him do one thing at a time.
Agreed. The canter is the most difficult gait for horses to learn to negotiate with a rider. I was working on Justus last winter with her canter because she was having all sorts of problems - wasn't learning the cues, was leaping into it, was getting the wrong leads, was getting frustrated and pinning her ears.
With virtually all horses, for initially working the canter, I want a nice BIG field. I want room to move, because most of this is going to be left up to them. I would ask Justus for the canter without bothering with collection or proper cues - the important thing was letting HER figure out where her feet were. She could go as fast or as slow as she wanted without breaking gait (obviously this may have to be adjusted to a horse that's prone to galloping), in large, looping circles. Once she started learning where her feet were and was moving into a canter confidentally, then I began working on the proper cues, proper bending, and proper transitions. Green horses have a difficult enough time cantering straight with a rider, much less attempting to navigate corners and tight circles while being asked to do fourteen other things at once.
You said you hack him out, so just let him be a horse. Take him for a run in the field - you'd be surprised, but the vast majority of youngsters or greenies actually have an "inability" to gallop. They're so busy being concerned about where their feet are, they have no time to consider going faster. Just let him sort his feet out first before making more demands on him.
Once she picks up the correct lead she can canter as much or as little as she likes for a while. Sorry what I mean by this is that if Phoenix picks up the correct lead I then do nothing, no more cues, no pushing her on. If she only canters three steps on the correct lead I am happy. Once she knows well enough to automatically follow my cue THEN I will worry about circles and congenuity.
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