Training Balance at the Canter Undersaddle-We fell down
I am new to training, and I am working with a trainer for my mare- but she isn't out until Wed, and I'd like suggestions to mull over until then.
Bonnie was supposedly given 60 days with a pro about 1.5 years ago, but she did not seem to know anything, so we started her from the ground up as if she had never been trained. She will be four in march, and is a rescue (starved).
I have never started a horse before, so I have been going very slowly. I had 5 years of lessons, but I've had about 3 years off horses before I got her, and am out of shape. I've been taking lessons on my trainers older horses to catch back up.
I did lots of ground work for the first month- got her used to the saddle, and my rope bitless bridle, lunging, leading etc. We spend another week just mounting and dismounting- not moving, them worked on go, whoa, steer at the walk for 2-3 weeks more. We have been working the trot for about 2 weeks now, and she is solid. She is super responsive to cues, and does not like me to be off balance- she shifts under me, or stops if I get off to the side at all. She is not spooky at all. I am VERY proud of her (and me) as we are learning together.
Yesterday, we were working the trot in the outdoor arena. It is very fine gravel/sand. She was moving out so well, I cued her to canter for the first time, which she did beautifully. We cantered around once, transitioned down to the trot, the walk then whoa. I worked about 10 more minutes at walk trot transitions, then asked for the canter again. I *think* she picked up the wrong lead in the front-she stumbled and went to her knees. I felt her falling, and kicked my feet out of the stirrups, meaning to hop clear. I *think* I somersaulted over her shoulder. I remember hitting the ground, then it is all blurry for about 10 min. My BO helped me up and back on her. He led us around once at the walk, the I got off.(I don't really remember that.) She is fine- wasn't even spooked, just grazing on some weeds like 1 min after it happened. Checked on her today- not hurt at all thankfully. I was wearing my helmet- I always do, so I'm not too hurt- just pulled muscles, and some nasty "road rash" from the gravel- I'm limping pretty good though. I landed hip first, then my back, then my head, so my hip is pretty torn up. I know I need to buy a new helmet now- stopping at the tack store tomorrow hopefully.
I called my trainer and asked her about it, and we both agreed that we should work canter in the indoor where it is a much softer landing. I am not scared or upset or anything, but I am wondering...Are there good excercises I can do from the ground (until I heal a bit) that will help her balance better with a rider at the canter? She takes the correct leads nicely on the lunge now, and had a lovely easy canter the first time around undersaddle. My trainer kind of feels like she needs to just learn how to do it by doing it more, and I will probably have the trainer ride her for a bit, as she is a more advanced rider than I by far (and has an eventer's vest). :)
I am trying to learn as we go, so any suggestions on how to help Bonnie, or even and ideas about what went wrong are welcomed, and will keep me from getting too stir crazy while I am gimping about. PS: I know the green on green= black and blue, which is why I enlisted a pro to help, but I want to learn with her, and I know she didn't mean me to fall off, it just kinda happened.
First off, it really does sound like, while you are 'green' you are doing what you need to in order to help this horse come around, and be a good riding horse; not many people actually seek out a trainer until it's too late, so kudos and high fives for you working with one from the get go; also I think it's really good that you are also working on your riding using an old school type horse...that will only benefit you and Bonnie :D
As a horse trainer myself, I am inclined to agree with your trainer, in that it will just take lots of cantering to really get your filly becoming comfortable doing it. Honestly I don't really worry about leads until they are actually comfortable cantering, so don't be too concerned over that right now, just get her going well, and leads will come easier later. Maybe large circles will help her find her balance a bit; not small ones; think half of the arena large. That is what finally got my mare going smoother and easier, was lots and lots of large circles, then we'd go around the arena one lap, then back down to the large circle; now she does much smaller circles and is quite comfortable doing them, as well.
Sorry about your fall...unfortunately one of those 'not so pretty' things about riding horses! Hope you don't have to hobble around for too long!
Thanks for answering!
I agree about the doing, and thinking about it, it was right after a corner, so taking turns wider would probably help us or maybe working canter just on the straightaways and dropping to trot for turns for a bit. That's really helpful for me to be thinking on.
I'll update you guys wed when trainer is out. This forum has been great for me- I read lots of back threads, and have gotten some great answers too. I've fallen before of course, but I think I used to bounce better at 18-19 than I do at 27, so the less of that I do the better. It's odd to be re-learning. I feel like...I know how to do this...but my body can't quite do it right anymore. Riding her guys is a big help too, I relearn something, and then can teach it to Bonnie better.
I agree that you seem to have a really well thought out approach to the training of this horse. You don't seem so green to me. I think you are doing a terrific job. About the fall, been there done that. Even the horse falling to their knees at the canter type fall. Dang! that can really fling a body with momentum into that sand. Feels like a brick wall! When that happended to me I had a hard time feeling confident in my horse at the canter for a good 6months.
My friend. who has been slowly bringing along her home bred colt, got him used to cantering by doing it behind another horse on the trails. I would go out with her on my steady Eddy Appy and ask for a slow canter on a straight away, best with a slight uphill cant. Then her horse would just naturally take a canter to follow. We would canter only a few strides then transition downward again. Then trot some and then canter some. So, the transition work helps a lot in getting the horse to find its balance. No curve in the begining, no concern as to which lead, and with a horse in front to set a steady pace and bring it down again after a wee bit.
Eventually, she started leading and then working on canter in an arena on curves and now he will canter in curves and on whatever lead you ask for.
She does a lot of trail riding on him , up and down hills and over logs and such. The horses live on hilly pasture land, so they are good on their feet.
If no hills available, going over trot poles will help build nimble reflexes.
You can even work her in the round pen with some trot poles (on a radius from the center.) The spacing is about 4 feet for a trot, correct me if I am wrong, but you can try it and find what's right for her. Can be done off line or on.
Also, backing up is good for developoing abdominal strength and core muscles, key to balance.
Good luck. send photos .
Great job-would cantering on a lunge with a saddle help? Seems to me it would help with the natural balance without you risking a fall, and groundwork os always good. I know we have done lots of it with my guy to help with his canter balance since he was only trail taught and had no bend at all.
Reminder: whenever you have a head injury (like blacking out) you should see a doctor-- there could be internal bleeding, very dangerous.
Thanks for the reminder! I think it was more of happened fast, and knocked the wind out of me, than actually being "out"- I was up on my feet in less than a min, but the details are fuzzy. But point well taken. I'm terrible about thinking "well I'll wait and see if it gets better" about me-but if the pets or the kids have a sniffle, off to the doc we go!
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