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Does anyone have any advice on canter circles?
I've been riding a horse for my instructor while she's out of town, just to get him back in shape, and we're having a REALLY tough time at the canter, especially on 20m circles. First, I'm having a hard time getting him going forward enough (he will literally canter in place) to do anything. He's really tense and our circles end up being straight lines and pirouettes (not really, but pretty darn close). When I can get him actually moving, his canter falls apart, and it's a big fat mess. He's been chilling in a pasture for a few months, so him being out of shape is part of it I'm sure. I know there's something I could/should be doing to help him out, so does anyone have any tips/exercises I can do to help him get stronger to be able to make circles, and not rounded squares?
No forward, no nothing, so fix that first. W/T transitions until he's in front of your leg. Then do several changes within the trot gait. Then, you can canter him. Do several changes within the canter to put him in front of your leg and do it on a straight line. Then, put him on a circle and make it a 30m one instead.
He's clearly lacking in fitness, suppleness, strength, relaxation etc... so stop asking him for things he's not ready for.
Always, always, start at the beginning regardless of past education. Basics, basics, basics. I repeat, no forward, no nothing. After forward you may begin working on the training scale.
Thanks so much!
I've been reading up on working long and low, do you have any opinions on that? It sounds beneficial, and I haven't ever seen him ridden, but I don't think he uses himself properly. Could that be part of the problem?
Also, would point to point exercises also help in getting him moving forward?
He can't possibly be using himself correctly by what you've described.
What is your definition of point to point exercises?
My friend (she's a trainer, just not mine) had me use what she called point to point exercises to help a horse that had become riding sour. She told me to pick a point, ride out to it and halt. Then repeat. His reward was stopping, and realizing work isn't so bad. Since Will (the current horse I'm riding) doesn't want to move forward, I was thinking that that type of exercise may work in the same way... maybe? My thinking was that he will learn that moving forward is good, and what I want, and it will be followed by a reward. I could also be way off, just a thought!
I know I sound incompetent and disjointed now, but I'm not a loon I promise! My trainer will be back in a week, just looking for some stuff to help this guy out in the meantime!
Little bugger, exactly what Mercedes said.
Without forward, you have nothing. Don't even bother thinking about circles if you can't get forward, you will NEVER get a perfectly straight circle if your horse is not in front of the leg.
Once you have forward, I will put money on it that the circle shape will come easily ;) A horse in front of the leg is 100x easier to steer than one behind the leg.
To get the forward, again as mercedes said, lots of transitions in trot and between walk and trot, then start asking for canter. Get into a big open area, or just ride wide in the arena, and ride him in a forward seat ask really rev him up. Just hoon him around the arena, have some fun, think of galloping. Then come back to trot for a little while, pop him back up to canter and 9/10 horses will be far more responsive to the leg after you've really got up them and made them hoon.
Do the opposite of what the horse wants ;) If he wants to take of and be stupid, stop him. If he wants to stop, make him go.
Also, you say he has been out of work for some time. Put him on the lunge and canter him out on a big circle. If he doesn't go forward, crack the lunge whip behind him and chase him out. Trust me, he'll go forward after a couple of go's. once he's got forward down pat on the lunge, hop back on him and get a friend to stand in the middle with a lunge whip, ask for canter, and if he doesn't go, have your friend flick the whip at him (hold onto the saddle pad if you are the sort of rider that will gob him in the mouth when he takes a leap forward, you definitely don't want to hit him in the mouth for this reaction)
So, I just came back from riding Will, and we did LOTS of trotting, and LOTS of transitions. By the end of the ride he already felt like he was using himself better. Right before out cool down we got a beautiful walk to trot without his nose up in the air AND moving forward! We also did a whole lot of leg yielding to get him listening to the leg again. He was even reaching for contact. We'll keep working on transitions and hopefully I'll keep getting better and better results. I'm hoping to show him in the Training Level I test in a few weeks, but we'll see.
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