Unbalanced canter? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 33 Old 09-08-2012, 06:41 AM Thread Starter
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Unbalanced canter?

My horse canters around the perimeter of the arena ok, but trips and almost falls on his face and loses the gait when asked to make smaller circles. Not too small, just half the arena size and our arena is very large. Is this a balance issue, clumsiness, lack of muscle tone? Should I work more on trotting circles. He does seem to trip alot and seems uncoordinated.
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post #2 of 33 Old 09-08-2012, 09:21 AM
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I'm 99.9% sure, without seeing photos/video, that the issue is purely because your horse is on its forehand. Some horses have enough natural balance to turn smaller figures while on the forehand, others do not. I'd say your horse isn't one of the lucky ones that knows where its feet are at all times, therefore finding the smaller turns hard to navigate.

The best advice I can give, again without seeing photos/videos of what's going on, is to get yourself and your horse to a good trainer - as a Dressage rider I would recommend a Dressage coach, as we are very much focussed on having the horse off the forehand.
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post #3 of 33 Old 09-10-2012, 09:10 PM Thread Starter
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Why am I not getting any other responses? Is this a stupid question?
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post #4 of 33 Old 09-10-2012, 09:35 PM
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You're not going to get magical answers that will fix the questions over the internet. My response is a sound and logical one - I suggest you try it before disregarding it.
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post #5 of 33 Old 09-10-2012, 09:50 PM
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I agree with Kayty , even though her answer wasnt' very magical.

I'd do more trot work , add in spiral in , spiral out, so that horse works on moving in a circle but also moving in and out laterally. If you have trouble at canter, back down a gait and get things really good at trot.
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post #6 of 33 Old 09-10-2012, 10:00 PM
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Sorry Tiny, I'll have to sprinkle some fairy dust on my responses for you :P
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post #7 of 33 Old 09-10-2012, 10:23 PM
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Without video, you're going to have a hard time getting anyone to commit to an answer. When my mare did something that sounds sort of similar, it was because she compensated for my weight by going way over on the forehand most of the time - but I really don't know if your horse is doing the same thing Mia was.

Riders ask "How?" Horsemen ask "Why?"
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post #8 of 33 Old 09-11-2012, 02:51 AM Thread Starter
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I'm sorry if I offended anyone. I can't afford a trainer and I don't know how to get my horse off of the forehand. I am not a dressage rider and I am not exactly sure if I even know what this means or how to correct it. I thought I wrote back about this, but I guess I didn't. Yowza!!! You guys are tough! Some more info...when I canter him in arena he does nice walk to canter transition, but seems like he is working awfully hard at keepig the gait I.E. barrelling forward. Canter is very fast and uncollected. When he canters on trails , uphills especially, his canter seems alot better and smooth.
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post #9 of 33 Old 09-11-2012, 08:12 AM
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Part of the reason no one is giving you an answer, is because the mechanics are easy to explain, but if you don't know what you're supposed to feel and when the exact moment is that you need to reward your horse, you can end up with an even worse problem and a very confused and sour horse.

I agree with Tiny and Kayty's advice, Dressage and lateral work will work if your horse is on his forehand. If you can't afford a trainer, buy books, buy videos and try to pick up anything you can. Try looking for a trainer, some are very very reasonable. I live on the other side of PA and most trainers expect $60-80 for a private hour, my trainer is really good and is awesome at explaining things and he's only $45 for a private. You never know until you look around, who's out there and who will be willing to help you out. Good Luck!
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post #10 of 33 Old 09-11-2012, 09:17 AM
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OK...my mare canters much better on trails than in the arena. That may be because it is easier to canter straight, or it may be that she simply understands what she is doing better when she isn't in a near continuous turn.

When we canter in the arena: I hurt my lower back shortly after I took up riding 4 years ago and it is still pretty stiff on my right side. I find it very hard to sit well back in the saddle and flow with the horse because my back doesn't move the way it needs to. Also, both of my horses used to leap into a canter as if there was an invisible fence to jump at the start of a canter. I'm one of those who ended up learning to canter on horses that didn't know how to canter with a rider. I tended to lean well forward because otherwise it felt like I was going to come out of the saddle.

So I was starting the canter with my body too far forward, and they were following my body onto their front legs. I think they were also trying to escape my butt slamming the saddle into their back by hollowing out their backs and trying to put everything on the front.

I started using some *******ized version of a half seat where my butt was barely touching the saddle. Being a more forward position, it kept me from feeling like I was going to fall behind and thus kept me from tensing up. It also freed up the saddle to move with the horse's back, and therefor helped them to be more relaxed. And with practice, I'm getting better at relaxing back a bit and slowly entering the saddle, although I still don't ride a canter with all my weight in the saddle.

Here is a thread I bookmarked because it really helped me. And BTW, I use an Aussie-style saddle with my mare and a western one with my gelding, so I'm not an English rider:

https://www.horseforum.com/english-ri...f-seat-120340/

All this seems to be helping my horses to relax, and when they relax they can also turn better at a canter.

It is hard to describe it in words. I also fully understand that good teachers aren't exactly easy to find in many parts of America. I tried getting instruction in cantering from two instructors who were very helpful to me in some areas, but not for teaching someone to canter. One taught entering the canter by pulling the horse's nose to the outside of the turn, which I think unbalances them and makes it harder.

I have no idea if any of that applies to you. I own three horses and can only say what has or has not worked for me.

Riders ask "How?" Horsemen ask "Why?"

Last edited by bsms; 09-11-2012 at 09:19 AM.
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