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Discussion Starter #1
My gelding has a counter canter problem. When lunging. He is on the correct lead to the right. But when he goes to the left he counter canters. His front lead is correct but his back lead is not right. I do not notice him counter cantering under saddle. Just when lunging. Why is he doing this? He doesn't act up or avoid cantering. So I don't think it is pain. What else could it be?
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He is disuniting, not counter cantering. Counter canter has the horse on the same lead with both front and hind legs, but it is bent in the direction of travel. It's actually quite a difficult movement and most dressage horses aren't introduced to it until they are at a very solid level of education.

I would say your horse is either lacking balance on the lunge circle, or has a pain/discomfort issue. Cantering disunited is not something you want to encourage.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Oh okay I was told counter canter is when the leads of the front and back legs are different. He doesn't avoid cantering. He canters willingly on lunge and under saddle with no problems. He shows no signs of pain. He really seems to enjoy being ridden. He doesn't disunite under saddle. I don't know how to discourage it. How do I get him balanced?
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Just as an aside, the other term is "cross cantering".

Some horses will cross canter on the lunge but I have found, at least in my experience, that it doesn't necessarily casue an issue under saddle. As Kayty indicated, a horse that cross canters on the lunge is probably simply unbalanced but you need to rule out discomfort as well. Cross cantering can result from lack of muscle, lack of coordination, being lazy and not bending/using themselves properly.....I also find that horses will correct the cross canter themselves (if it is not discomfort related), either coming down to the trot on their own and recantering or doing a lead swap to get to a true canter even if on the incorrect lead. Obviously you want to correct the lead so it is the proper one for the direction you are lunging since allowing the wrong lead on the lunge just encourages more imbalance.

In my horse's case, he will do a swap in front and then yank away going sideways if he gets a wild moment on the lunge. He also has to be perfectly balanced to maintain his proper canter on the lunge; he tends to swap behind as soon as he loses even the slightest bend to the inside and this also occurs under saddle..we are working on it :)
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Oh okay. I understand. Yeah it could be lack of muscle. I haven't been working him as much as I should. When he does it I'll either turn him the other direction or cluck him to go faster. It seems to work but he still starts out cross cantering to the left. What would be making him unbalanced/uncoordinated? He's 15 so he's not inexperienced. Haha.
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Counter canter is different from cross cantering.

In counter canter horse is traveling to right but on left lead (or vice versa). In cross cantering horse is on one lead with front legs and opposite lead with back legs.

Since horse is OK when ridden then you'll have to be careful when to make/keep horse correct when lunging. Make certain you use lunge line to get head/nose pointed "inward" (bending towards lunger) and use whip where riders legs would go at girth to keep horse on perimeter of circle.

How do you attach the lunge line to the bridle? Do you attach on outside bit ring, thread over poll and down to bit, then go thru bit (ring) to lungers hands?
 

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Try asking him for a little more speed. He may find your lunge line too short and sometimes by letting him go out farther the problem is corrected.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I actually free lunge him in the round pen. Join up. When I do lunge him on a line, it's a 20 ft lunge line and I attach it to the ring under the halter.
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Discussion Starter #10
I don't know. I just want to know if it needs to be fixed and how to fix it.
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I don't know. I just want to know if it needs to be fixed and how to fix it.
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I just realized how my original question could have read as really snarky lol. I didn't mean it to sound like that at all, I meant like I was wondering if it was a problem when horses do that, just out of my own curiosity, not trying to be criticizing the topic or anything. I dont know if that makes sense haha I just felt bad when I reread my post and realized how rude it could sound. :p
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Discussion Starter #12
Oh haha I didn't read it as rude. I just really don't know. It looks wield when horses do it though.
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Discussion Starter #13
Wierd*
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I don't know. I just want to know if it needs to be fixed and how to fix it.
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Cross cantering on the lunge isn't a huge deal as long as it doesn't carry over under saddle. THe horse is simply unbalanced on the lunge, or lazy in that he isn't using himself properly. If you are just trying to bleed off energy I wouldn/t worry too much. If you are actually lunging for conditioning then yes, you want to correct the cross cantering by getting the horse to trot again and then asking for the correct lead canter.

Remember to make a triangle while lunging. You are the high point of the triangle and should be positioned just behind the horse's shoulder. The horse's nose (with lunge line attached) is the second angle of the triangle and your extended arm with the lunge whip positioned to the back of the horse behind the haunches is the third angle. This encourages the horse to use his back end and bend around the circle instead of just "moving" around in a circle. I attach the line the same way, to the loose ring under the chin...that way I can get the horse to change directions without having to switch the line. If I use a lunging caveson then I attach the lunge line to the center ring on the nose.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Oh okay thank you. He doesn't do it under saddle so I guess that's good lol
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Just curious, why is it considered bad/unbalanced if a horse has a disunited/rotary gallop? I can see why it would be so at the canter, because of the rhythm, but it's so common for dogs and other animals to have a rotary gallop. Obviously horses aren't dogs, but it just doesn't look unbalanced to my eye for the opposite hind leg to lead, perhaps because I'm used to canines galloping in such a way.
 

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If your horse cross canters under saddle and you are going around a corner you can feel the imbalance. If the horse is on the correct lead in front and the outside lead in back, they can't get that inside hind under them for that nicely balanced bend. In the opposite, with the front lead wrong and the hind correct, the horse is going to pop the shoulder to the outside which is also going to cause an imbalance in the turn.

Now, my horse, on the lunge at least, if he gets a burr in his tail about something and decides he wants to try and yank me off my feet, he will swap in front and then pull to the outside. He has a lot more leverage being on that outside lead in front at that point :) and he is really good at doing it with no forewarning. He'll be cantering nicely and then just swaps and goes sideways.

I also notice that if my horse cross canters he tends to kick himself in the leg. This probably happens due to the stride in the canter and the cross action.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Wow that sounds like a rough work out! I'd hate to be dragged around cuz my horse has a burr lol.
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