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flamingauburnmustang 08-20-2010 06:10 PM

~ Canter issues -- Trying to avoid a hard mouth
I can walk and trot Night Heat calmly with a light contact, but the minute I canter her she tries to go fast and even when I try to slow her down by restricting her with my seat, she still won't slow down and eventually I end up having to constantly pull back on the reins... :sad:

I really don't want to make her hard in the mouth by using my hands most of the time. She can trot nice and calm without me even really touching her mouth, besides when we are jumping or if she has just been cantering when she is all hyped up. Could it be because I need to work more in trot? Or do I need to work more on her canter?

When I'm cantering her let's say away from 'home', she will sometimes slow down to a reasonable speed for canter and I reward her for this by loosening the reins abit. But then usually when she goes toward 'home' she will speed up even more and I need to really pull on the reins to slow her down (in this case using my seat is out of the question). I know this speeding up and slowing down is probably due to disobedience. Any help on that?

Sorry it's so long...I'm just at a loss at what to do. Please, any tips or advice would be appreciated. Thanks in advance. :smile:

Note: I will try to get a video of her cantering either this weekend or sometime early next week, so you can see exactly what I'm talking about.

A knack for horses 08-20-2010 06:31 PM

Have you tried the check/release technique?

The check/release is a technique where you put very light contact on the horses mouth, but you alternate squeezing your fingers that are on the reins. So the pattern would go like this: squeeze, release, squeeze, release. You don't move your hands when doing this (which some people do when they start using this technique) If the horse is responsive enough, they should slow down just from the squeezing on the reins.

As for the running home, any time she does that, you HAVE to disipline her. A horse is only supposed to go faster when you ask them to go faster. When she does this, make her stop altogether and make her back up. Or turn her around and start walking the other direction, away from home. She needs to realize that taking off when she is facing home doesn't get her there any faster than going the pace you want her to.

hope this helps.

Northern 08-20-2010 06:40 PM

First get lateral flexion on her: make sure that you can bend her neck to either side & that you can spiral her down to a halt from walk, trot, canter. Practice emergency dismounts at the same time: once she's halted, shake stirrups off, swing off & lead her off. Just that much will give you control over her speeding up. Then, in an arena, let her canter, with circles, stops & changes of direction, until her head starts to lower, because she's getting tired. She'll start loping along with a loose rein, asking to slow down (no matter how long it takes, she will). Keep her going a bit then let her rest. Oh, yes: pulling on both reins is the worst thing that you can do; one rein at a time, always. On trail, use up her energy like in arena; circle trees, disengage hindquarters, move front end, etc. Shoulder-in or circles for jigging, loose rein when she walks nicely.

SPhorsemanship 08-20-2010 06:59 PM

My horse used to be like these. How old is she? She sounds unbalanced and canters on the forehand. My horse learned canter as "GO FORWARD" and to a horse, that's "go forward onto the forehand", because that is how horses move naturally.

First let's start with your riding. For me, even with my speedy, super forward, very difficult horse, the bit is not brakes whatsoever. You shouldn't be "pulling" to slow her down, but you shouldn't also be only using your seat to block her. It's all your aids together. You sit in the saddle, but still on your pelvic bones. If you sit deep and sit behind your seat bones, lean back and put your legs forward, it is a forward aid. However, leaning forward is not a stopping aid. Sit up, and completely move your lower body with the horses movement and relax. Close your thighs but still keep light contact with your lower leg. Look up and then half halt. Every second stride, holding the inside rein pull back on the outside leg while holding back with your seat and to get the energy say "come back, come back". It's not slowing down, it's balance and coming back on their haunches. It's hard to learn how to do that properly without having lessons on an already schooled horse so if that doesn't work, don't get frustrated.
Here are a few exercises:
1) canter on a loose rein. Just go down on the buckle and canter around the arena as many times as you need, stay completely relaxed in the saddle, and now you can practice slowing by relaxing with your seat and just think "Slow, relax, slow, relax, slow, relax". If your horse takes off do a run rein stop or turn them into the wall.

2) Get the horse on your aids at the trot. Stop-trot-stop-trot. Do stuff like that. Do figure eights, circles, backing up. Then incorporate canter. Go trot-canter-trot-stop-trot-walk-trot-canter-walk-trot-canter circle.

*Never bring her back with two reins, you can't win ever by pulling.

flamingauburnmustang 08-21-2010 05:47 AM

Most of the time I sponge with the reins (squeezing alternate reins). My instructor told me it will help to get Night Heat to soften with the mouth and get her to take the contact. It works well in trot, but in canter even when I squeeze relax squeeze relax, all it does really is brings her head closer to the vertical (evading the bit) and she still goes her fast pace.

When she goes faster towards home I sometimes do a circle or two, which usually gives her abit of time to think and she slows down just a little bit in pace. I guess that's abit of progress, right? I will also try turning her around or backing up when she speeds up.

Another thing she tends to do is when cantering away from 'home' she sometimes drifts to the outside, and since the arena has no fence she goes all the way to the outside. What I do when she does this is give a tug with the inside rein and kick with the outside leg behind the girth. Not sure if this is right, but it gets her to turn her whole body so its facing the inside again, then we carry on as usual.

Northern: My instructor has gotten me to do that, just cantering around and around doing circles and serpentines, until she starts to relax abit or as my instructor puts it "until the nuts and bolts are back in place again". I have also heard of the spiraling in and out, but haven't really tried it. Will check it out this weekend. :smile:

SPhorsemanship: She is about 15 or 16. It may be a balance problem, because I have heard that when they are unbalanced they tend to go faster.

I always tell myself to breath deep and try to relax my whole body when Night Heat is having one of her crazy moments. I find it quite difficult, especially when she is so tense and tearing around the arena, but I'm getting there slowly. :mrgreen:

The second step you added is what I usually try to do with Night Heat to get her to use her hindquarters. The days that she is feeling really hyped up, I leave out the canter and just do halt-walk-trot-halt-trot....etc. It also helps to get her to relax her neck and jaw, taking the contact up.

Wow, I didn't realize how long this post was. I apologize again, I truly get carried away. :mrgreen:

Thanks a ton so far for the advice. :smile: Any more exercises I could try with Night Heat? Any to help myself as well?

Will post a video tonight.

smrobs 08-21-2010 08:46 AM

You got some really good advice from Northern. I use tons of circles to get a horse relaxed at the canter. Also, one thing that will help is to cue for a lope, then after a few strides, stop her and back her up. Then cue for the lope again for a few strides and then stop her and back her up again. If you are consistent about this, she will really begin to slow down and lope "with her brakes on". After she gets consistent about loping slower, you can ease up on the stopping and backing and only use that when she starts to get a little fast.

SPhorsemanship 08-21-2010 01:14 PM


Originally Posted by flamingauburnmustang (Post 725681)

Another thing she tends to do is when cantering away from 'home' she sometimes drifts to the outside, and since the arena has no fence she goes all the way to the outside. What I do when she does this is give a tug with the inside rein and kick with the outside leg behind the girth. Not sure if this is right, but it gets her to turn her whole body so its facing the inside again, then we carry on as usual.
Will post a video tonight.

What I would do here is instead of pulling her to the inside, I would kick with that outside leg and circle her to the outside and then you will end up facing inside, she'll be like "Ok, if I start going out, I end up facing in", just try that and see how it works, that's what I've done with a lot of green horses.

Relaxing is probably the most important thing. If she is going fast and she feels a rider that is tense and being grabby with their legs and hands she'll go even faster and on her forehand, she'll lean into the bit, instead of coming "up" and "on" the bit. If she feels a relaxed rider like jelly on her back with legs hanging loosely like "wet towels" on her back and then sponging , she'll listen much more.

flamingauburnmustang 08-22-2010 01:22 PM

smrobs: That sounds like a good technique that would really help with Night Heat. I must try it with her and see how it goes. :grin:

SPhorsemanship: I would try that, but the only problem is that the grass is very uneven outside the arena and if I were to canter in a circle it would risk her tripping or stumbling...

With the relaxing thing, as I said, I mentally have to tell myself "breath, relax" when she decides to go all crazy on me. But I'm gradually getting there. :mrgreen:

Here is the video that I promised:

She is much calmer in the dressage arena as you can see. It's mainly in places where there is more room to go faster, such as the jumping arena (not surprising as to why :roll: ). But you can see the drifting towards the gate, mainly when she's on her right rein (almost crashed into my poor sister while she was filming... :lol: )

LoveStory10 08-22-2010 01:55 PM

I think that when you are going past the gate, tighten your inside rein and increase the pressure with the outside leg, thats what Peter told me to do when I used to ride Royal. You should tell him about Nutty Miss Kiss lol

Oakley Eastern Miss 08-22-2010 03:47 PM

Sorry to hijack the thread but I have a similar problems to you, my mare speeds up coming out of corners going down the long straight. I have tried circles but she is already going pretty quickly by that point, I also half halt in anticipation but im starting to think she has learnt this and just fights me. Again, she only does it in canter.

Do you think its a balance problem, do I just need to do more exercises to balance her? Any suggestions much appreciated :-)

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