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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have a horse that previously did harness racing. I'm having a really hard time getting him to canter.
On the left lead, when I ask him to canter, he just completely freaks out and runs off in a very fast trot. He's pretty uncontrollable when he does this and finds it hard to make sharp turns because I'll try to slow him down by making very small circles, but instead he just looks to the inside but his hind doesn't follow so he goes straight. He ran into a pole with his back leg because of this once, and now every time he runs off like this I panic a little because I'm scared he might run into something again. When I ask him to trot on the right hand he's able to do it more calmly IF I stay on a circle, as soon as I try to straighten up and go down a straight line he falls back into trot.
How can I train the canter with him so that he doesn't run away, and eventually be able to canter straight lines with him? And make him more agile and balanced so he can make sharper turns?
 

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Start on a larger circle, and establish a good trot with a consistent tempo. Carefully bring your outside leg back, still keeping your heel down. Give him a little rub on the withers, talk to him, and gently squeeze with your calf. If he runs into a fast trot, stay calm on the larger circle. Post the trot gently - go up and down with the rhythm YOU want to go, which may not necessarily be how fast he is actually going. Get a good trot back, and try again. Try your best to get him back quickly if he runs away. Use as much seat as possible, not your hands. I obviously don't know your horse, but I hope this helps!
 

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You're going to have to do isolating exercises with his horse. You going to teach him to two track, first with the shoulders off the track going in a circle then with the hind end off the track going in a circle. First at a walk then at a trot. Then you are going to get him to bend around your leg at a walk, almost in the shape of a "C", first to the outside, then to the inside, walk and trot. When you can perfect all those exercises at a trot, you have to work getting his weight over his hind end, collecting up all his energy so it's over his rear. When you can do that, then you move his outside hip over, hold his shoulder, then release the energy you collected from the rear, if you did your homework properly, the horse has no choice but to pick up the canter. Very little hand/rein, mostly seat, weight & legs gets the best results.
 
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how long has he been off the track? You are asking him to change EVERYTHING about the way he has been taught, and bred, to move.


I think it can be done, but it will not be easy, and you will have to be patient and understanding in that he is not just naturally able to canter, and certainly NOT on a circle.
 

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how long has he been off the track? You are asking him to change EVERYTHING about the way he has been taught, and bred, to move.


I think it can be done, but it will not be easy, and you will have to be patient and understanding in that he is not just naturally able to canter, and certainly NOT on a circle.
This is exactly why you have to isolate the front, train flex, isolate the back, train that end, then put it all together and move it in an arc. This is how I train green horses to canter, counter canter, this is why horses I have trained don't pick up wrong leads, throw their heads in the air above contact, and why I win horsemanship, equitation classes. OP if my instructions to you seem foreign, enlist in a trainer who will do this. All the good ones I know of do this, I didn't make this up, hah, I wish!
 
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This is exactly why you have to isolate the front, train flex, isolate the back, train that end, then put it all together and move it in an arc. This is how I train green horses to canter, counter canter, this is why horses I have trained don't pick up wrong leads, throw their heads in the air above contact, and why I win horsemanship, equitation classes. OP if my instructions to you seem foreign, enlist in a trainer who will do this. All the good ones I know of do this, I didn't make this up, hah, I wish!


@waresbear it sounds as if you feel I am arguing with your advice, . . no, not at all.

my remarks about the amount of time off the track, and the difficulty were not meant as a disagreement , or question of your training technique. I was talking to the OP. I agree with you , and am sure you can train , and win!
 

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No I wasn't arguing with you, I was explaining that is how a horse is trained to canter. It is a long, tedious, however not difficult process. I think why people run into problems is because they expect results quickly. Unfortunately, many horses don't pick up things quickly, especially when they know & were taught something different. You go slow, build the muscle memory in the flex areas. Horse may offer all sorts of weird awkward gaits, be patient, be soft, they will get it. This is where a knowledgeable trainer succeeds and the rest of us get frustrated.
 

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Since you're a little nervous about the horse rushing through and also the horse is struggling with balance issues, it might be helpful to work from the ground and get the canter more solid on the lunge or long lines before trying under saddle.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
how long has he been off the track? You are asking him to change EVERYTHING about the way he has been taught, and bred, to move.


I think it can be done, but it will not be easy, and you will have to be patient and understanding in that he is not just naturally able to canter, and certainly NOT on a circle.
Yeah I understand that not all horses find it easy to canter, however for him, he finds it easier to canter in a circle
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
how long has he been off the track? You are asking him to change EVERYTHING about the way he has been taught, and bred, to move.


I think it can be done, but it will not be easy, and you will have to be patient and understanding in that he is not just naturally able to canter, and certainly NOT on a circle.
Yeah I understand that not all horses find it easy to canter, however for him, he finds it easier to canter in a circle
And he's been off the track for a few years, probably about 4?
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
You're going to have to do isolating exercises with his horse. You going to teach him to two track, first with the shoulders off the track going in a circle then with the hind end off the track going in a circle. First at a walk then at a trot. Then you are going to get him to bend around your leg at a walk, almost in the shape of a "C", first to the outside, then to the inside, walk and trot. When you can perfect all those exercises at a trot, you have to work getting his weight over his hind end, collecting up all his energy so it's over his rear. When you can do that, then you move his outside hip over, hold his shoulder, then release the energy you collected from the rear, if you did your homework properly, the horse has no choice but to pick up the canter. Very little hand/rein, mostly seat, weight & legs gets the best results.
How do I ask him to do take his shoulders or hind off track properly?
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Since you're a little nervous about the horse rushing through and also the horse is struggling with balance issues, it might be helpful to work from the ground and get the canter more solid on the lunge or long lines before trying under saddle.
Yeah, I thought that too, it's just he also finds lunging a bit confusing I think? When I try to lunge him he stops and goes backwards or tries to go the other way.
 

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How do I ask him to do take his shoulders or hind off track properly?
I hate to tell you this but, if you don't know how to do it, you need somebody experienced from the ground to show you how. If I explained it to you, there are so many variables, you could end up doing the wrong thing and get really good at it too! My best advice to you is to get an instructor that knows how to train a proper canter, among other skills, they can tell you when you're out of position when you think you are in the proper position, etc. I used to train horses for the public, it was not beneath me to haul the horse that I was being paid to train, to another trainer to have them show me how to do it properly when I was running into a problem. Best money I ever spent.
 
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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
I hate to tell you this but, if you don't know how to do it, you need somebody experienced from the ground to show you how. If I explained it to you, there are so many variables, you could end up doing the wrong thing and get really good at it too! My best advice to you is to get an instructor that knows how to train a proper canter, among other skills, they can tell you when you're out of position when you think you are in the proper position, etc. I used to train horses for the public, it was not beneath me to haul the horse that I was being paid to train, to another trainer to have them show me how to do it properly when I was running into a problem. Best money I ever spent.
Yeah, I guess the best way is to get a trainer to help me, I thought maybe I could try myself, but like you said I don't want to do it wrong and get really good at it haha, thanks :D
 
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