"Western horse" doesn't know how to canter? - Page 2 - The Horse Forum
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post #11 of 15 Old 11-20-2011, 12:35 AM
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Originally Posted by bsms View Post
I want to repeat what smrobs said, because it can lead to trouble. Some things are taught to the horse differently in western riding than english. The problem isn't the horse, but understanding the CUES the horse was taught.

I started English and have been drifting west ever since - in part because that is how my horses were trained, to the extent they were trained. And since many western horses are just trained for trail riding, their lack of training can become an issue.

Two examples:

1 - How to ask for a canter. I asked a group of students taking lessons in a group lesson with me how to ask for a canter or lope. They looked at me like I had two heads, and replied, "Just kick harder."

The instructor for the group said that was wrong, and the procedure she then explained was the same as an English rider would use - but many western horses will not respond to cues like 'light pressure behind the girth/cinch with the outside leg' because their riders were content to simply 'kick harder'.

2 - The gelding I'm riding now was ranch trained and used. However, he has a habit of not bending his body. He was never ridden at a high level on the ranch...he disliked cutting, although he sometimes got tossed into it, and usually was used for herding sheep or cattle in the mountains.

He has stiff shoulders, and tends to drift into turns with his head to the outside. We've been working that, and he's learning to tilt his nose in a little and bend a bit around my inside leg. LOTS of western horses will do that all the time, but he was never taught to do so. When we started, if I tried to tilt his nose in a touch and just keep my inside leg down (not pressing in), he would either respond by moving laterally to the outside, or accelerating. He has very sensitive sides, and he was responding the way he thought I wanted.

The WESTERN trainer (barrel racing background) I'm getting lessons from gave me ideas on how to exercise him and train him to bend his body around a tight turn.

That isn't a western/english thing, but a lack of training thing. He barely hits 800 lbs, and that is pretty light for working cattle. Not impossible, but the owner had others horses better suited, while Trooper's Arabian endurance made him a good fit for working herds in the mountains.

If you are an English rider riding a western horse, you may find your cues confuse the horse. If you try a half-halt on Trooper, for example, you'll get a ****ed off horse. From his perspective, you are telling him to both accelerate and stop. He is a very willing horse, but he gets frustrated when his rider sends conflicting cues. And based on how he was trained, a half-halt IS a conflicting cue. If you want to use it, you would have to teach it to him.
to the bolded part, im confused. are you saying many western horses arnt trained to the left leg slightly back que? because most of the western horses i know in my area, thats how there trained and thats what they respond to. if you just "kick harder" they wont lope because its not what your asking for. though some beginner rider horses are trained to respond to that for the first time lopers. most wont, and if they do its because there confused and frusterated why the heck you keep kicking them when there already trotting like you asked. just confused is all lol

But i do agree that it could be the horses training or your training, maybe your just not on the same level or trained diffrently?

Beauty is not diminished by those who refuse to see, hear,feel or in any way sense it. If you refuse to see beauty its you who is weakened.
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post #12 of 15 Old 11-20-2011, 06:53 AM
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You say 'eether', I say 'eyether'.

A couple of years ago, I was riding at various trail riding centres in Wales as part of a tourism project. Each week Id turn up at a different centre and be presented with a horse to ride. A mature man standing 5ft 10, weighing 210 lbs gets to ride the bigger horse and when they judged my age I tended to be offered the sparky ones. All of the horses presented for riding by tourists had been taught and tacked up English and the control techniques employed for leading groups of tourists up onto the windy ridge tops tended to be the same. The visiting rider wasnt judged so much for style but rather whether he/she could control the horse whilst amongst the group. It was always an interesting process to watch.


The most difficult rider for the centres to cope with was the well dressed, polished riding boot, well schooled English rider - especially if it was a mother and daughter pair who might well have their own horses back at home. They would want to use the same aids on the horse presented to them as those they had been taught to use by their regular riding instructor. For sure they could ride but riding a hairy country cob up in the hills was a very different game from riding a smooth haired Thorobred type in the dressage arena back at home.

The trail centre horses had learned their trade of carrying visitors on the job. The horses worked as a herd and the alpha horse in the group was usually the lead guides mount. The riding centres secret of success was in the careful selection of the type and temperament of horse to be used together with the hard earned ability to be able to match from subtle clues horse with visiting rider.

My own technique was to insist that I groomed and tacked up the horse I was about to ride. Then once Id got the feel of the animal on the ground, Id mount up and gently work the animal for a few minutes at walk and eventually trot. Wed do a few turns, wed stop. Wed back up, wed stand. Id use my hands thru the reins, Id use my seat. Id nudge here and there, Id try giving verbal commands. The staff at the centres would sometimes give me a funny look but as I would explain - Lady, I just want to see if I have a steering wheel and some brakes. What I was expecting was that the horse between my legs would have its own unique set of aids. All I had to do was to cotton on to what they were. My job was not to fight the creature between my legs, it was to learn the language of communication with it. And that was part of the fun of the day.

What saddened me sometimes was to be asked to ride a horse which had had over the years the stuffing knocked out of it. Its mouth would be hard from pulling, its flanks numb from kicking. The joy of life had long been knocked out of the poor dumb creature. What concerned me occasionally was the young frightened horse which would try to bolt at the slightest opportunity.

An intelligent horse can be taught to respond to any aid A favourite ride of mine would go from canter to gallop - merely by my raising the height of my hands and hed stop almost within his own length at the slightest resistance by the hand on the bit. To turn, youd lean off centre and to back up youd lean backwards. To stand, youd drop the reins. But that horse was something special and he went like a rocket. Sadly he wasnt mine. His regular rider and owner, the son of the proprietor of the yard, had taught the animal to respond to his personal idiosyncracies and as a visitor to be allowed to ride the horse was indeed an honour. The horse was called Magic and magical he was to ride.

If a horse is reluctant to canter, then something is wrong. It might even canter from a standing start if the rider were to ask it nicely. It is all a question of learning which buttons to push.
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post #13 of 15 Old 11-20-2011, 11:12 AM
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Originally Posted by AngieLee View Post
to the bolded part, im confused. are you saying many western horses arnt trained to the left leg slightly back que? because most of the western horses i know in my area, thats how there trained and thats what they respond to. if you just "kick harder" they wont lope because its not what your asking for...
Yes, I'm saying that in a group of folks taking lessons, all of whom had cantered/loped regularly with their horses, they all thought the correct cue was 'kick harder'.

The instructor said that was wrong, and why - but it still meant that each time these folks had cantered, they had cued it by 'kicking harder'.

My point is that you need to figure out what the horse has been trained to, and then teach it if the cues it was trained to differ from the ones you will use.

Do all or most western riders use 'kick harder'? Don't know. All I have is a sample of 4-5 riders. Both western instructors I've met say that is wrong. So if you buy a horse, the first thing is to figure out what the horse knows, and what he does not. He may not have been trained by someone who knows what they are doing.

As is often the case, Barry Godden says it better than me:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Barry Godden View Post
... What I was expecting was that the horse between my legs would have its own unique set of aids. All I had to do was to cotton on to what they were. My job was not to fight the creature between my legs, it was to learn the language of communication with it. And that was part of the fun of the day...

...If a horse is reluctant to canter, then something is wrong. It might even canter from a standing start if the rider were to ask it nicely. It is all a question of learning which buttons to push.
My gelding is learning to anticipate my moods. If we're walking, and I settle into the saddle in prep for sudden acceleration, his head will come up and his ears swivel back to listen. If I then whisper, "Wanna go? Ready to stretch your legs?", he gets more tense. If I then whisper something like, "Let's go!", he'll switch from walk to canter, with head down, ears forward and I suspect a smile on his face...

No leg, but he pays attention to my mood. My youngest daughter, OTOH, rode him a couple of weeks ago and said she was going to try her first canter on him. She gave the correct aids, and he...did nothing. Refused to go faster than a trot. Afterward, I asked how she really felt about cantering that day.

"I was scared and didn't really want to, but felt I ought to."

I'm pretty sure my gelding, who loves cantering, was responding to her emotions instead of her 'aids'...
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post #14 of 15 Old 11-20-2011, 11:23 AM
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If he's sore in the hooves, he'll prefer to trot rather than canter. Next time your farrier is out, ask about this.



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post #15 of 15 Old 11-20-2011, 08:22 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by smrobs View Post
One other thing to consider... Since you are riding her english, I am assuming that you are keeping contact with her mouth? If so, that could also be why she's breaking gait, you are giving conflicting signals (legs telling her to go, pressure on the bit telling her to stop). Most western horses are not taught how to properly accept contact on the bit without losing forward motion.
I might have been...that was a few years ago, so being that I was younger and less knowledgeable then, that might have been the case.
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