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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This is going to be so hard to explain, lol.

Ricci doesn't like to come down to a trot from the canter. I don't know what's going on. She was doing this before, but for a long time we stopped having so many problems with it.

Today, I decided to try and work on simple lead changes in a huge figure-8 pattern. We started with figure-8's at the walk, then the trot to get her used to the changing direction and she was doing beautifully. Then we warmed up a little at the canter.

The problem is this; when I ask her to come down to a trot from the canter, she either, A) does a ridiculously collected, little-strided canter, or B) comes down to a trot for maybe two strides and will pick up the canter again. It makes it pretty impossible to do a simple change because it either turns into a counter-canter, or she will pick up the lead she was on before I give her a cue to pick up the other lead, much less a cue to canter again.

Before anyone can bring it up, her saddle fits, and it's not a physical problem such as pain or overdue teeth. And it's ONLY coming down to the trot that she runs into this. She can do a good canter to walk, and a great canter to halt.

What I had done before is ask for a trot and then drop my reins and post HUGE for about three laps before I could even think about collecting her up again. Any sooner than that and she picked up the canter again.

Any ideas or things I could try to get her over this?
 

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I don't know if your girl is a trail horse or a dressage/ring horse but for a trial horse I discourage the drop from the lope to the trot. I much prefer what she is already doing. If I am loping along and I want to back it right off to negotiate a tight turn, a ditch , a open road crossing I just back the pace to an almost stall but the lope motion remains.
If they drop to a trot they break the rythm, become bouncy and you go back to the lope after the obsticle.
I much prefer to keep lopeing, just slower and rocking on the hind end then trotting.
If I want to drop the lope I say WALK and we are walking.
 

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If you are wanting to compete in rider classes and such, then you will need to go from a canter to a trot and back again. I had a different problem with my arabian. He went from canter to this increibly bouncy trot. The problem was training at a trot.

Okay, so suggestions:
--You could try repeated transitions, eg canter trot canter trot. Make sure you establish a trot, though this exercise could be difficult from what I've heard.
--My only other suggestion is you could set up some trot poles and use them for the middle of your figure of eight. I'm sure even your horse would find it difficult to canter over trot poles.

Let us know how it works out for you.
 

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My question is - what is it that YOU are or are not doing in the saddle, to create the reaction that is occuring? Why are you so certain, that this is your horses issue?
 

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that's a good point. Are you doing anything differently from what you usually do?? It could be confusing your horse.
 

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It sounds like your problem lies in your riding. I have had the exact same problem many times, and it all went back to me being stiff in the transition. When you are asking to come back to a trot, think about sitting up tall, looking UP (NOT at her neck, as this rounds your shoulders and makes your upper body tense), take a big "belly breath", then let it out slowly and deliberately as you are asking for the transition. It also helps to think about not "locking" your elbows and pulling when you ask to trot, but rather imagine a wall behind your back and think of pushing your elbows back into it. This way, you can use your whole arm and shoulder for a more powerful aid, plus your horse won't lock against you or get tense because your forearms are tense.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I am 95% positive that the problem isn't stemming from something I am doing, because I am very aware of myself when I ask her to transition, especially coming down from a canter because I know this is her problem area. I understand why you'd ask, because very often it IS rider error, but in this case, I just don't see how it can be. It's not me being cocky, it's me having already scrutinized my every move throughout our hour and a half ride and coming up with nothing, lol.

I thought about poles today too. However, I don't have any, lol. I'm planning on making some standards soon, so I'll have some in the next two months or so. Maybe I can unearth something on the property that can do the job.

She's very voice-activated, so for now, I'm going to start incorporating the voice commands with my riding, as embarrassing as it will be, lol. We'll go back to a million and fifty transitions with the trot, and dropping everything when she DOES trot down from canter, to post big and praise the living daylights out of her. I had it fixed before, I can do it again. I'm pretty positive it only came back because I asked for canter, trot, canter and she reverted back to her "must keep cantering" mantra.
 

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I am 95% positive that the problem isn't stemming from something I am doing, because I am very aware of myself when I ask her to transition, especially coming down from a canter because I know this is her problem area. I understand why you'd ask, because very often it IS rider error, but in this case, I just don't see how it can be..

Just HOW are you asking for the transition?

Give it to me step by step.
 

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I will tell you I am 95% certain it is rider error. You have trained the horse in some fashion that it is OK to evade the transition. And that's what it is - an evasion.
First of all - do not stop riding. The more you sit there and appease your horse into trot, the bigger the issue will become. Soon no matter how still you sit, the horse will merrily canter along forever. And don't allow her to lope around. It is a canter-trot transition not a canter-lope-dribble-trot transition. Rhythm is the first step on the training scale, the training scale does not go away in transitions.
Second of all - make sure you are using your seat as an aid. In ALL transitions you are basically riding the new gait with your seat to cue the horse. Think "trot with my seat" instead of pulling the horse up with your hands. The hands control the bit which has relatively little to do with the gait the horse is in.
And finally - stop thinking about the transition as "I want to stop cantering now". Replace this as "I want to start trotting now". The more you are concentrating on not cantering, the more your body is focusing on cantering. It doesn't hear the "don't" part. Ride your canter-trot transition the same way you would a walk-trot transition.

Good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 · (Edited)
We're cantering along [or trotting or walking or whatever, it's the same with all downward transitions]. I take a deep breath in [from the diaphragm] and on my exhale, I tighten my core, and "resist" the movement of the gait we're in, imagine moving with the gait I want, and allow enough flexibility in my hip and core to move with the gait I want when the gait comes [does that make sense? lol], close my fingers and think, "trot."

Edited to add the sitting deep, shoulders back, and looking up. =]
 

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We're cantering along [or trotting or walking or whatever, it's the same with all downward transitions]. I take a deep breath in [from the diaphragm] and on my exhale, I tighten my core, and "resist" the movement of the gait we're in, imagine moving with the gait I want, and allow enough flexibility in my hip and core to move with the gait I want when the gait comes [does that make sense? lol], close my fingers and think, "trot."
This reminds me of an Anky clinic that has stuck with me forever it seems. She asked an advanced rider "how do you ride a 10m circle?", and the rider launched into an advanced explanation of all the aids required to make the circle exactly 10m in diameter. Anky patiently listened and when the rider finished she said something to the effect of "No. Just turn the horse onto a circle, make it easy."
This is the same thing. You need to simplify. I am sure you have ridden hundreds of canter-trot transitions, at least. You know what to do, so just ride the transition. When I ride any horse into the trot I just think "trot", I ride trot and then the horse will trot.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
This reminds me of an Anky clinic that has stuck with me forever it seems. She asked an advanced rider "how do you ride a 10m circle?", and the rider launched into an advanced explanation of all the aids required to make the circle exactly 10m in diameter. Anky patiently listened and when the rider finished she said something to the effect of "No. Just turn the horse onto a circle, make it easy."
This is the same thing. You need to simplify. I am sure you have ridden hundreds of canter-trot transitions, at least. You know what to do, so just ride the transition. When I ride any horse into the trot I just think "trot", I ride trot and then the horse will trot.
Haha! Well, Spyder asked me what I did, exactly, and that's what I do. It is kept pretty simple, I don't think or plan or strategize when I want to transition, it's just something I do, second nature, I don't usually think about it.

I think the problem is it may be too... subtle..? for her sometimes, so when she gets in her "keep cantering" mode, I kind of exaggerate the cues. It hasn't happened much at all in the last year. I've gotten the occasional "must pick up canter" moment but it was only one at a time and it only took a few strides to get her mind on trotting.

And another thing to add is that I would always trot at least a whole circle before I asked her to pick up a canter again, because I know this is her problem area. Today was the first time ever that I tried to do less than a whole circle, because I thought we had gotten over that bump.
 

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when the gait comes

As I suspected...there is your problem.

You don't wait for the gait, but ride into the gait.

Example.

When I want Spy to go from trot to canter (I use alternative leg aids along with seat direction) I stop one leg BUT continue with the inside leg as my aid for the canter...WHILE HE IS IN TROT. To come forward into the trot after the canter I resume the alternative leg trot aids with a slight bracing of the seat (followed by a forward push) ...WHILE he is in canter and it becomes instantanious.

In the beginning with a less sensative horse the canter may continue but I STILL use trot aids. Also in the beginning when the horse does not yet understand I will position the horse so it will trot. A shoulder fore is the first position. Failure will be followed by a full shoulder in. Failure will be followed with a 360 turn ..WHILE they are in canter or the gait you wish to transition out of.

If you ride straight forward you give the advantage to the horse.

It is the rider's JOB to position the horse so it can comply with what you want. The problem with most riders is the seem to have a brain freeze and do the exact opposite.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Oh, ok. I think I understand. I'll have to re-read after a good night's sleep but I think I got it, lol. Thanks so much, Spyder! I've been stopping canter movement in my body all this time, but not really creating trot movement. I'm trying to suspend movement and then trot. As a side note, we only canter [at least for now] on 20m circles, because of a combination of things, mostly footing concerns. Not sure if that's relevant but I thought I'd throw it out there...

More suggestions are still greatly welcomed! I'll try anything and everything! =D
 

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Oh, ok. I think I understand. I'll have to re-read after a good night's sleep but I think I got it, lol. Thanks so much, Spyder! I've been stopping canter movement in my body all this time, but not really creating trot movement. I'm trying to suspend movement and then trot. As a side note, we only canter [at least for now] on 20m circles, because of a combination of things, mostly footing concerns. Not sure if that's relevant but I thought I'd throw it out there...

More suggestions are still greatly welcomed! I'll try anything and everything! =D
Aha, I see you caught the magic words -- "forward into the trot." You ride forward from the canter into the trot. You don't "stop" any movement. You change it.

Great explanations from Spyder and Anabel, as usual!
 
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