Training to pick up the canter - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 9 Old 08-12-2010, 01:36 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: British Columbia, Canada
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Training to pick up the canter

I seem to have run into a brick wall with Flash's training.

He was originally track trained, and after removed from the track he didn't do much for a while and then he was restarted and the lady who owned him worked on walk/trot and had started working on his canter when she sold him to the lady I bought him from. The lady I bought him from didn't really do anything with him during the few weeks she owned him. Needless to say, his canter work is.. well, non existent.

Anyways, I have been working on vocal cues for his transitions and he's awesome transitioning walk/trot/stop and any combination of those three. Our problems come in when I want him to canter. On the lunge line, he will not transition to the canter unless I literally chase him into it, at which point we completely lose our circle and he ends up dragging me around in a very large sort-of-circle. I wish we had a round pen, but we don't, otherwise I doubt this would even be an issue!

I'm looking for any ideas to help me help him understand what it is I want.

I don't really want to do it, but do you think training him to canter under saddle would be better than teaching him to canter on the lunge first?

I just ran into this issue for the first time tonight, and my immediate reaction was to ask for the canter and when he didn't do it, continue to ask and MAKE him canter (whether that meant chasing him into it, or not) and rewarding when he did.. In hopes that he would learn what I want. If I am completely missing something here, please let me know!

Big thank you's to anyone who has some ideas for me!
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post #2 of 9 Old 08-12-2010, 04:22 AM
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Is there anyone who can lunge him whilst your riding him so you can cue him with extra encouragement.

Whilst training my guys to canter i pick a nice straight srea maybe a field even (strap on that back protector!!) get a schooling whip and using my inside i put it kust behind the girth and tap just behind my leg with the stick and say CAN-TER and click my tongue.

Keep asking and asking and once you get a few strides leave it for that day

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post #3 of 9 Old 08-12-2010, 11:02 AM Thread Starter
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There is only one other horse/rider on the property, I could see if she would be willing to do it but we're hardly there at the same times.

I think I might try the field idea, there's a big flat field that is currently empty right next to the arena.

Thanks for the ideas!!
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post #4 of 9 Old 08-12-2010, 03:49 PM
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I agree with the straight space idea. A lot of green horses feel very insecure at the canter on a smaller circle. It can make them feel really unbalanced and freak them out. One thing that is generally lacking in a lot of training methods today is that people don't spend enough time teaching horses on straight lines. I would practice with her in open spaces where you can go a good distance at a straight line. Even a big arena isn't going to have a large enough straight line to get the job done. First walk straight lines, then trot, and then canter. Don't try to do it all in one day at first. Get him used to the idea at the gaits he's more comfortable first.

And be prepared for him to go really fast at first. Just remember you can ride as fast as he can run, and let him have his head at first as long as he continues to go straight. Try to give him his head a little and let him find his own balance. Also, don't do this in the direction of "home" as that can cause a lot of problems. Only trot/canter away from home.

Hope this helps!
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post #5 of 9 Old 08-12-2010, 07:58 PM Thread Starter
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Yes, definitely helps! Thank you!
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post #6 of 9 Old 08-12-2010, 08:23 PM
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How about an arena? Do you have one or access to one? I love free lunging and I think its a great option if you dont have a round pen. Its a bit more leg work but eventually most horses end up circling you anyways. They know they are there to work. It probably is just a green horse balance issue. If he isnt a bucker....I would do the field. That and there is no better feeling in the whole world than cantering lightly across an open field. Not much beats that!
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post #7 of 9 Old 08-12-2010, 08:27 PM Thread Starter
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I do have an arena and have free lunged him a couple of times. I guess running after him, though lots of work, is probably my best choice.. The only real problem with that is that our arena is a bit overgrown with grass and he LOVES to stop and eat which royally peeves me off when I am working him.

I guess in that case, it is all about me timing when I say "CANTER" to when he is actually about to pick up the canter?

He's never bucked with me aboard(or anyone, as far as I know) but I'm not entirely sure if I'm willing to risk it.. at least until I buy a body protector (yikes they're pricey!!)

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post #8 of 9 Old 08-15-2010, 01:20 AM Thread Starter
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Just thought I'd post a small update. Yesterday I tried free lunging him and asking for the canter, at first he would not do it but by the end of the session I noticed that it was taking me less time to get him into the canter once I asked for it. I think I nearly killed myself running around though! I certainly did more work than him! :roll:

So since it was quite hot today I decided to avoid running around today and decided to just warm him up, ask for it and hold on. It took a few tries but eventually he picked up the canter for four or five strides. I didn't want to push it so I gave him a big "GOOD BOY!" and let him walk, then cooled him out.

So I guess it will be easier for me to just teach him from his back, and sit there quietly while he figures it all out.

I just want to thank you all for your ideas and suggestions, you've definitely helped!
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post #9 of 9 Old 08-15-2010, 11:44 PM
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You really don't have to train your horse to canter. He already knows how. You need to make him comfortable cantering with you riding him. I don't lunge so when I canter a horse for the first time I trot them faster and faster until it is thier idea to canter. Then when they want to slow down even if it's after just a few steps. I trot for a while longer then speed up again until the horse canters again. If you wanted to do this on a lunge then you could teach your horse to speed up on cue and just speed him up until he canters.

There's nothing like the Rockies in the springtime... Nothing like the freedom in the air... And there ain't nothing better than draggin calves to the fire and there's nothing like the smell of burning hair. -Brenn Hill
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