Utah 7 year old Tennessee Walking Horse with 6 months professional training ridden in  snaffle or Dr. Bristol bit in English style endurance in round pen indoor and outdoor arena by adv beginner rider.

Question: Having trouble teaching horse to slow down his canter. He is all or nothing. Picks up left lead every time but I have trouble getting the right lead takes two or three
tries before we get it.

Thanks
Marion



From Panelist Lee

To get a horse to slow down his canter, you need to play some mind games with him, and also allow him to develop the strength in his back and hindquarters that is necessary for a good slow canter. The mind game is -- don't canter for very long.  Ask him to canter, go three or four strides, then slow instantly to a walk. Walk a relatively long way, then ask again for three or four strides of the canter, then return to the walk.  Keep this up long enough and the horse is going to get the idea that since he can't go very far in it anyway, there is no reason to rush when you ask him to canter.  You can also add a little bit to this game by cantering, walking two steps, then backing a step or two before you ask for the canter again. This not only convinces him that he has no reason to rush, but it helps get
his back rounder under him and creates a more impulsive but less rushed gait.

As for the leads -- it depends a lot on how you ask for a canter depart.  I prefer old method of bending the horse toward the desired lead, using the outside leg to ask for a light haunches-in, moving the hind quarters over a little toward the direction of the lead, keeping the head and neck straight or slighlty tipped in the direction of the lead, and asking with weight in my opposite seat bone for the horse to strike off into the canter, just as
his outside hind leg sets down in the walk. This takes some timing and practice, but it is almost impossible for a horse to take a wrong lead using these aids.

The horse may also be stiff to the right, so a lot of work bending him in circles, both large and small, and spirals in that direction may help. I would do this in the true snaffle, not the Dr. Bristol, which can be a little severe.

Good luck.

Lee Ziegler



From Panelist Laura

Sounds like you have a good start for a nice canter, just need to teach your horse to rate his speed.  Try to do most of your canter work in the round pen where the horse will feel more confined to help keep him slow.  

A few of the different things you could try are:  

(1) let him go for a while at his favorite speed then use your hands to slow him down (gradually) while keeping a little leg on him to keep him from falling out of the canter.  Don't get discourage or frustrated with him - sometimes this takes quite a while; 

(2) try canter, stop, start, stop, back up a little, canter again and stop.  Get 
him started thinking that he canters for a few strides and then stops 
(sometimes this helps get the horse thinking about going slower since he 
knows a stop is coming up);  

(3)  try cantering in smaller circles; 

(4) in a larger arena, work on figure 8's with a simple lead change in the center 
(gives him something fun to do while working on his leads - usually helps 
slow him down when he figures out the pattern); 

(5) hand gallop out on a good trail and slow him down & collect him going up hills; 

(6) canter in a plowed field (have on splint boots and don't work in deep dirt very long).  

Good luck.

Laura



From Panelsit Erica

Try keeping your horse busy and focused on you at the walk and running walk - eventually letting him naturally give the canter. Keeping him soft and focused prior to will help keep him unrushed in the canter. 

Also, in picking up your right lead, try moving his shoulder to the right as you cue the canter. Moving the weight in the direction of the lead will help him naturally pick up that lead. 

Good luck!!
Erica Frei

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