Starting with background information; my horse hasn't been in full work for more than a year. He was only being ridden 1-3 days a week, he had no muscle. Now I'm riding him 5-6 days and he's got some muscle back.
Here are the issues I've had..
Lately he's been having a lot of issues with well, cantering in general.
First off, he's been having a very hard time picking up the left lead without me doing a haunches-in and asking him to pick up the canter. He picks it up when I do a haunches-in, and then he's fine.
Secondly, I have noticed that when he does a lead change, whether it be a simple or a flying change, he doesn't always switch his back lead along with his front? and then he crossfires for a few strides and switches it. It's happened quite often, free lunging, riding and ground driving. I'm not really sure if this means he's unbalanced or what, but I don't know what to do.
Third off, flying changes will be the death of me. He had auto changes before he had his little vacation and losing his muscle. Now I figured that since he has gained back a lot of his muscle, that he would remember the changes.. not. So I went back to simple changes, and now he can have just one trot stride before picking up the right lead.. but I have tried and tried to get the flying change, and it's not there. I always switch my weight to the outside iron just like before, but he won't do them! How should I go about reteaching him? I feel like it's probably me that's causing him to not change, but I need ideas of what to do!
Also so you know, he has seen the chiropractor in the last 30 days, his saddle fits perfectly, and his teeth don't need to be done. So I don't really think these are health issues.
Just one question; is he a standardbred?
No he's not.
How long has he been back in steady work? Both issues may be fitness related, especially the flying change issue.
Does he have a clean, three beat canter with a period of suspension, or does he four beat? Could you post a video?
Will he do a clean change if you canter over a pole on the ground?
What discipline do you ride? Where and when do you need to get a change?
I agree with the above poster. Maybe you should try to take a break, and give his muscles a rest for a week or two.
He has a definite three beat canter.. he's very adjustable with his pace as well, it's just getting the leads/ changes?
He won't do a change over a pole either..
We do hunters, right now just hunter on the flat, but once we start jumping again I want him to have the changes down.
Cross firing is a balance issue and if you think about it - if he has problems with the left lead he'll have problems with the flying change.
Work on 20 meter spiral in until he almost breaks into trot or cross fires (probably not 10 meters on the left lead), then spiral out. Take your time building muscle - probably needs a few more months.
Flying change also means he needs to be straighter (try walk/canter from shoulder fore position NOT haunches in) and have more jump - try pole where you ask for lead changes or series of poles on ground to get more jump in his stride.
If he's only been back in work two to two and a half months, I would leave the changes alone for awhile and work on fitness and straightness first. And spend more time working the left side than the right - 2/3s left, 1/3 right. The fact that you have to ask for haunches in to put the left hind underneath him to get the left lead really confirms that you have both fitness and straightness issues.
Working up and down a slight hill is a great break from ring work and will help build the kind of muscling and fitness you need.
Particularly on a hunter, you want to avoid over-schooling changes, or asking for them before the horse is able to do one correctly. The difference between a fancy hunter and a local hunter is often how readily and easily they change.
In another couple of months, I would place a rail in the corner after a line, where you'd normally ask for the inside bend, canter the line and canter over the rail and do as little as possible and see if he offers the change. If he doesn't, do the simple change and try again. If he doesn't get after a couple of tries, go back to fitness work. If he had auto changes before, they'll come back when he can do them comfortably. Pushing the issue will make him grumpy and ressitant and one of those horses who wrings their tail, scoots in the corners or hops up in back to change.
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