The Horse Forum banner
1 - 8 of 8 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
872 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Its been awhile since I updated on my young gelding's progress. He's turning 7 in April. When I bought him I didn't try him (thanks, Covid) but his sales videos made him look pretty fair in WTC, even had a novice rider on him and he seemed fine. I am in a lesson program a couple times a week and still working walk/trot. Why? I have cantered and galloped other horses before, but my horse seems to be unbalanced in canter. I have a trainer who is working to get his canter more confident once or twice a week, and in addition I lunge him for short periods for verbal commands.

He has always been better in the outdoor arena, more forward, with a good demeanor. But now that the weather has made our outdoor un-usable, we are now limited to the indoor. Lately, he has been grumpy with me and not wanting to work. I admit that since I'm only doing walk trot I am usually riding about 35 minutes before I get bored. I am looking forward to doing canter work as I am feeling more confident seeing him work with the trainer.

So he's been testing me a bit...humping up when I ask for trot or more trot. A couple days ago he refused to walk forward, began to hump up, so I disengaged his hind and booted him. He soon realized he couldn't get away with that, but it bugs me that he tries. After 2 frustrating rides, the lady who schools him mentioned she would work him differently - he's been spoiled and I don't work him enough....she cantered him and demanded much more of him than usual. He respects her, but I don't get that kind of respect from him. I have been bucked off him early on when I was cantering....that has created some insecurity about using my crop. I am using spurs and feel okay with my leg position.

My aim is for this trainer to help my horse get balanced and confident in canter so I can get on, optimally when she is around to watch me. But I need to also be able to be more confident riding out some misbehaviors as well as disciplining appropriately. This frustrates me because I'm of a certain age! Thanks for listening. Feel free to comment.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
10 Posts
I could have written your post. I am in the exact same boat with my 4-year old mare, down to the details. No help, but approaching it the same as you - working with a trainer to get her stronger and more balanced in the canter, realizing I need to be more consistent and confident in working her through her testing/naughty behaviors (I've checking everything that could be causing her pain - ulcers, saddle fit, chiro, etc), and working her harder - not unfairly, but pushing her a bit more like moving more forward in the trot, etc.

I'm frustrated too as a 47 year old returning rider! I keep telling myself I can do this! But I'm still insecure. Watching the trainer ride her has helped a bit, and it helps having him coach me on her, especially at the canter.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
16,079 Posts
Is the horse built balanced?
Truly?
I mean shoulders, barrel, hips...and there equal & even one side to the other in his bone build?
Now his muscling...same thing?
Equal and balanced one side to the other?
Are his larger bone joints, knees and hocks the same height? Be surprised how many animals are not and it can make a big difference in balanced feel when ridden.
Personally, I would start exploring that fact.

Most indoors you don't have the same amount of room to move in straight lines so a bend, a turn...whatever you want to call it is necessary for the animal to ride indoors.
If your animal is not built evenly, not muscled evenly, it can and does make a difference in balance and that goes for you too.
Right handed or left? Which direction do you favor riding in and is that also the horses dominant side?
Could be a reason you feel resistance,a reluctance and the animal unhappy to quietly hack around for you.
Your trainer is riding probably assisting the animal to compensate for the unbalanced it has....unless they teach that to you you can't help the animal to work better when you not know what it is the other rider is doing...
Trainers are wonderful, providing they teach the owner/rider what and how to do so the animal is worked with similarly otherwise to me...no.
Have you considered instead of just training rides you take lessons where she works then you ride immediately so you feel right away what is happening and can copy it? With the trainer also ground coaching you it might make a difference in outcome...
Its your dime, you get to choose how it is spent.:unsure:
🐴... jmo...
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
50,331 Posts
I suggest you ditch the spurs .. They can make a horse want to hump up, for sure.

Get a crop, or dressage whip, and use it! noisily, on your own boot or thigh. Like this:
You get on, adjust your seat, pick up the reins, tap her with your heels and cluck to her to walk off. If she drags off like a ton of concrete, you immediately take the crop and smack you own leg while you put that leg on her briskly. the noise will startle her and I bet she will move out. if you ask for a trot and she doesn't move off briskly, you do it again, BUT you smack HER.

If you fear she will buck, try smacking her on her shoulder instead of her hind end. it IS punishment, not a cue. She HAD the cue and ignored it, so it IS punishment, no bones about it, and does not need to be where your leg is. the noisy smack is more about saying "Hey! this is your captain speaking!"
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,776 Posts
FWIW, I had a similar problem with Pony. He was very unbalanced at the canter, which led to him throwing his head down, throwing his shoulder in, and falling in hard. Always to the left. I fell off a couple of times. It took the trainer a year of weekly rides to get him balanced. He also starting getting balky at the trot, and THAT turned out to be saddle fit. I thought that saddle fit him. I don't know, maybe it did once, but it was hurting him worse and worse to the point where one day he came in in such pain that he couldn't even pick up his front feet to be picked. He felt so bad. He had to stay in a paddock for a couple of weeks, and then get chiropractic work, and then of course the new saddle.

The point of all of this is for you to not give up hope. He is now doing AMAZING. He is just the best Pony ever. He does anything and everything I ask, no attitude, no refusals, nothing. It just took us a while to get there.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
872 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Hi all. The muscle/body balance is a good question for my chiro. She hasn't mentioned anything but I will be sure to ask her next time. My horse used to canter using his neck and head for more balance, but that has improved greatly. Apart from being slightly downhill in his conformation, Boo looks to have better than average coupling, shoulder angle and a strong lumbar. He certainly has gained alot of muscle since I've had him, going on 10 months..

Regards to using a dressage crop, I ride with one as well.... I find there's two ways of using a crop. One is to tap continually until you get the response you want (equitation science) and the other is how you suggested or a smack on the offending part.

My trainer rides with these big ol western spurs and he doesn't give her hardly much guff. My spurs are a smaller, soft round ball type - I always check with my trainer's eyes to see if I am bugging him by mistake.

Saddle fit: his english saddle is custom for him and got checked recently. I don't believe he has ulcers from how I am seeing he behaves and other indicators.

I will check in with the trainer today and ask how much she is having to hold him up and how balanced she considers him to be. Last ride, she used a bungy type neck relaxer. An interesting point: there were some training rides that she did that were more work for him than usual, involved cantering, of course. Sometimes, the next day, either from attitude, soreness, or both, he wouldn't move forward for me. From a halt! I was in a lesson once when this happened and my coach was worried it would escalate into a rear. DIsengaging the hind worked and alot of GRRR GIT!

The last training ride (trainer called it a compliance training ride) she really worked his butt off - his butt cheeks were white with foam. I wondered if she was overdoing it, but he was not giving her any argument. The next day I had a lesson - figured he'd be sore, but did a long warm up and to both me and my coach's surprise - he was not sulky or grumpy. There were two moments in the lesson he did try and test me though.

Due to the weather and all the snow on the ground we haven't been able to trail ride outdoors. I think he is arena sour as well.

I do plan to ask my schooling trainer to ride first and then have me ride under her direction. My english coach doesn't ride anymore, just does lessons with me.

My confidence thing relates to how I'm not entirely sure how much my horse will escalate when he is in that grumpy mood. I'm not a fearful person, just want to be careful - at 67 I don't bounce well.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
872 Posts
Discussion Starter · #8 ·
My western trainer had a schooling ride yesterday and at the end of the ride gave him a grade of A+. She was very pleased with how soft and responsive he was, cantering easily off her kiss voice command. I asked her if she had to hold him together, she said no, just for a stride or two at the first canter due to him wanting to go. I asked how balanced she thought he was. Her reply was, most horses exhibit some unbalance in the canter, and he wasn't that bad. In fact there was some very nice lope, and even some canter departs from a walk. Watching them looking quite relaxed, made me feel better about trying to canter in my lesson the next day.

Today I was pleased to see no grumpiness to moving forward in my lesson. Much more forward and we practiced leg yields at the trot, then moving into the canter. My old habit of using only the outside leg for canter depart didn't cue Boo before, so I remembered to use both legs and he stepped up into the canter nicely. I just had to stay off his face - my coach said Boo thought I would shut him down, there was mild anxiety with his head carriage, but that he did relax.
We did both directions with only one wrong lead depart, and I am thinking much more positively about his demeanor and compliance. Isn't it funny how a good ride can erase the memory of those two bad rides a couple weeks ago!
 
1 - 8 of 8 Posts
Top