Why does my horse pin its ears whenever I ask to canter ? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 6 Old 08-14-2020, 03:42 AM Thread Starter
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Why does my horse pin its ears whenever I ask to canter ?

Hello ! So basically I have just bought this 5 year old ottb that I had leased for about 2 months before buying him. He is very green as he had been put off work only riding 1ce a week for the last year before I started leasing him and training him to become a jumper. This is my first horse, and he is the sweetest one. He is very respectful and very kind and always does whatever you ask of him with rarely any complaints. It was only recently that he started pinning his ears (to the back of his head) whenever I asked him to transition to canter. He also has a tendency to cut and trot at the corners which he is getting over with. He will pin his ears all the way back and give my leg a nasty look, and when he finally starts to canter he will have his ears pinned a little and then when I remind him to stay in canter for the corners he pins them back again. The minute I ask for transition to trot from canter his ears will go forward. He got vet checked before I bought him and he is only a little bit sensitive in the back (we’re working on building muscle there atm) and in the hooves (he’s got shoes now). He’s always galloped willingly and loves to gallop out in the fields with the others, he’s an ottb and he really likes to race, whenever the horse in front starts galloping in the field when we go for hacks he’ll go full race-horse mode.
I don’t know if he’s lazy (that’s what my trainer said) or I don’t know if I’m the one thats doing something wrong. Thank you so much for reading this whole paragraph and any help/advice would be greatly appreciated as I want the best for my horse and our relationship !
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post #2 of 6 Old 08-14-2020, 07:10 AM
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Welcome to the Forum!!

Since you know the horse for quite a bit of time you also know his attitude for work, his willingness to please and you say you notice he has changed...
He's trying to tell you something...
You see it, but you have not acknowledged it and told him you know something is not quite right..
Subtle differences...
A horse who has suddenly started to pin the ears when asked to do something...
A horse who has developed a habit of when working corners, now breaks gait....
Your horse is telling you he hurts...
Both things he does and where he does them speaks loudly to me that something is out of whack and align..
The horses attitude is changing so he can protect himself..if you ignore the message being told the animal will escalate his screaming at you in ways you won't like or appreciate...
He is only telling you there is something wrong.
Who you have come to investigate that hurt for me would start with a vet specializing in movement and lameness issues cause you are on track toward that...
Once the vet finds or rules out, then on vets recommendation would I carefully have a chiro or body worker come to look...someone who has a stellar reputation not just anyone.
But yes, the horse is having a hard time...the question is why and what do you do for it.

Good luck.
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post #3 of 6 Old 08-14-2020, 08:36 AM
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I agree with @horselovinguy that it sounds like pain.

"Saddle fit -- it's a no brainer!"" - random person
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post #4 of 6 Old 08-14-2020, 08:57 AM
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How are you riding the canter and the transition? How are you asking and what's your seat like? How forward is the trot usually?

Pain is a reasonable cause, especially since you do say he has some back pain. You would hope that a PPE would have found anything obvious. If the trot is lacking impulsion, that could be his way of protecting something hurting, but once in the canter he doesn't have that option.

Another possibility is he doesn't like how you ride and ask for the canter. Maybe your canter aid is too loud, your hand catch his mouth in the transition or during the canter. You could be sitting too heavy or bouncing. OTTBs generally do quite well when cantered in a half seat or two point. Could be you are leaning, your legs are noisy, or so many other possibilities. We all hope the trainer we chose would be able to identify and help fix things like that, but the reality is that there are trainer out there who really aren't qualified. You've been riding this horse for a total of two months now, right? Was anyone else riding during your lease? While a sudden onset of behavioural issues is often pain, with this short time frame it could also be their reaction to your riding and, if someone else had been riding, their schooling wearing off.
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post #5 of 6 Old 08-14-2020, 11:09 AM Thread Starter
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Thank you for all the answers! My canter position is the same as when I started. I’m going to go there tomorrow and “experiment” a little bit to see his reaction to different things and I’m going to ride differently to see if I see any improvements. I will let you know how it goes, thanks again for the answers !
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post #6 of 6 Old 08-14-2020, 11:55 AM
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I wonder if he has developed ulcers?
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