Standardbred Trot and Canter
When I ride my Standardbred, his trot is really bouncy. And I've tried some things to get him to smooth it out. But it's just not working.
Does anyone have any other suggestions for me?
Also I cannot get him to canter. I don't know if it's because he's just really lazy or what.
Can anyone tell me anything on how to get him to canter?
I don't know how to get him to canter but for the trotting thing, well if he is not in his gate, which if you're bouncing a lot, he may not be, then it's going to stay bouncy and there's nothing you can do to smooth him out that's just how standardbreds are. I used to have one and I wondered the same thing and finally someone told me that's just how they are.
Was he raced as a trotter or a pacer? If he was a pacer, he's probably pacing, not trotting, which is part of why it's uncomfortable for you.
I don't want to insult you if you DO know the difference, but if not, watch while he's trotting on the lunge, or have someone watch while you're riding. Trotting, the two legs toward you will look like \/ then /\ then \/ again, because the front left and rear right leg move forward together, then the front right and rear left move forward together. Pacing, they'll look like / / then \ \ then / / again, because the two legs on the left move forward together, then the two legs on the right.
As for cantering, if he raced at all (either pacing or trotting), he was probably trained not to canter, and it's not so much that he CAN'T, but he was trained not to for so long he is unwilling to, plus it's probably very awkward for him. I bought an OTSB way back when, and he could barely canter a couple of strides, and it was very awkward and lurching.
There are probably resources both online and in books to help you with training him to canter. I didn't really get to that point with my boy before "selling" him to my sister-in-law when I got pregnant and moved out of state.
I have a Standardbred gelding who was trained as a pacer - I have also retrained quite a few others to Trot and Canter - my boy had no idea how to trot (but I also enjoy riding the pace as it is quite comfortable) but to retrain the Standardbred I do the following with success:
TROT POLES using trot poles in your flat work either by lunging or riding will break the desire to pace and will make them pick up thier feet in a trot to avoid hitting the poles. Have 4 or 5 poles on one side then a break and another 4 or 5 poles and keep your horse moving through the poles he will soon learn to pick his feet up in a trot. After he has begun to trot regularly even a little doses move the poles together to keep him in the trot for longer..
Remember to reward him in his tries no matter how small they are as you have to get your horse to believe that it is ok to trot and canter.
Also if you can ride him in sand (beach or other) this will also see them trot as they have to lift thier legs from the depth.
For Cantering use hills, no Standardbred can pace up a hill, give him his head, trust him and allow him run at speed up the hill - he will canter. Once you have given him the ok to canter he will also continue on the flat - you might need to canter up a few hills first before he feels balanced enough to canter on the flat.
Don't give up or feel disappointed if he is not picking up quickly - some Standies it takes only a few lessons others it can take months.
I hope this helps and keep us informed as to how he goes..
Oh I forgot to mention - your bouncey trot is a cross between a pace and trot, it is very uncomfortable to ride too, this is because your horse has no idea what is being asked of him (not your fault just lack of training), using the trot poles will help him in his confusion and his balance..
A Standardbred that has been raced, or brought up to racing fitness, does not have the same muscles built up that a riding horse does. Because of this, your horse will be more inflexible to round his/her back up, which helps smooth out the trot.
Contrary to popular belief, pacers DO know how to trot, and often shuffle back and forth between them while being jogged, if they are without hobbles. Just like they DO know how to canter, they just have been taught to not when working.
If you have gotten a pacer, rather then a trotter, it will most likely take more time and energy to train him that you would prefer that he would trot then pace...since when he was in training, he was told he was to pace, not trot. This will take some skill on your part, as you will have to correct it within a few steps, and be able to tell the difference from a trot and a pace under saddle.
Your horse will not have a very good canter, until he is more balanced under saddle. You will need to do a lot of trot work, a lot of bending. When you get there, you might have a hard time encouraging him to stay in the canter, so make sure that you are the one who decides to start and stop cantering, not him.
Your horse isn't lazy, it is just that he was taught differently.
Not sure where you are from, but the Ontario Standardbred Adoption Society normally has some literature on retraining.
Thank you for answering my questions!
When he was raced he was a trotter. But he hasn't raced in quite awhile. He was rode before I started riding him, and that person got him to canter only a couple times and his trot really didn't bother her but I don't know if she had the same problem as I did. And I'm pretty sure he's not pacing. At all.
Don't standardbreds have upright shoulders? That would account for the bounciness.
My standardbred has a very bouncy trot as well and he was a pacer. Maybe its just the breed in general? Have you tried extending his trot? If he was raced as a trotter then he may want to do a faster trot. Even though mine was a pacer I find his trot is much less bouncy and awkward when he is going a little faster. I have no help to offer on the cantering though as mine just picked it up naturally.
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