|Virginia 8 year old Standardbred ridden
in English bridle,loosering French link snaffle, drop noseband and
English All-purpose saddle in 100x200'arena by Advanced rider
Question: I am having trouble getting my mare to canter, especially
to the Right. She never raced, and her trot work is quite good now. She
will sometimes "get it" and canter nicely & fairly smoothly. But most
of the times it's rough- she'll lose her balance & rhythm & start
to pace; or canter in front & pace/trot behind she's a pacer). I've
started doing work with
From Panelist Lee
You are on the right track with the jump/canter training. Other
things that will help her develop her hindquarters are lots of transitions
-- walk, trot, walk --- walk, halt, back, walk, -- walk, halt, back,
trot .... and any work you can do in some collection at the walk or trot.
practice lots of bends, too -- good circles and curves, to develop her
Good luck with your retraining project -- she sounds like a lot of fun!
From Panlist Erica
It might really help your mare to work up to canter work on the lunge
line - allowing her to find her own balance and footfall without the added
weight/pull of the rider. This can be especially helpful with those that
are long and lanky or just not real graceful with their feet. Remember
to start slowly - warming up at a walk on the lunge on both sides and not
moving past a trot until your mare both builds up some more stamina but
is also able to
When you start working her again for the canter under saddle - try to keep her trot/pace speed slower and relaxed while cueing her to canter. If she gets rushed into the gait she will not be as confident or able to control her feet as well as if she were relaxed when going into it.
Also, be sure to check your saddle fit and be sure there aren't any sore areas on your mare as these may constrict her movement or make it very uncomfortable or even painful to canter. Good luck!
From Panelist Nancy
This problem of the "fall apart canter" is fairly common with the gaited horses. Sometimes they seem to be like a centipede - (too many legs!!). If you have a round pen to work her in you might do best to develop her canter in there. If you don't have a round pen, I would suggest that you start your canter on a circle or corner of an arena. When you get the canter, only ask for a few strides. Try to stop and praise her BEFORE her canter falls apart.
Remember, it doesn't do any good to practice a canter that is
not correct. You don't want to practice a bad canter.
A good exercise would be to ask her to do a canter depart from a back and
then, after a few strides, stop and back her a couple of steps and then
do another canter depart from the back. I think that should
hold her together better. Gradually she should be able to go a little
further in balance at a canter. Also, working in a round pen or on
a circle would help to keep her from falling apart. These exercises
Hope some of these suggestions will help.
From Panelist Stella
If she's 8, and you've had her only 2 1/2 years of that, it may be she was originally started to race, and not just a matter of breeding, but training to discourage cantering when asked for speed. This takes a longer, since you're retraining, not just training. The cantering is no longer a no-no, but "OK," so needs lots of extra reward and encourage to change her mentally as well as physically.
It's probably best to start by lunging, to not only induce the canter, but also strengthen her and praise. If she tends to pace, sometimes a quick "pop" and release of the lungeline, while using a lunge(I personally prefer a driving)whip just popping behind...but not necessarily making any contact...to encourage her to keep moving forward, so that her head comes in briefly and slightly to you, will help break it up....
Then under saddle, also use circles, not too small at first, small enough
to discourage extension of intermediate gaits(trot or pace), and use the
weight of your body and seat to rhythmically "rock" with the canter as
the horse's own weight as well, shifts from the lead leg to diagonal back.
If you allow, on your forward lean, your upper body to be somewhat over
the inside shoulder, she will have to "catch" your weight with her correct
From Panelist Liz
One thing that may help first would be to change your saddle. Many of the all purpose saddles can put a rider into a forward seat and if you are jumping this is the position you are in while jumping. On our gaited horse this seat keeps them from being able to maintain their own balance and balance a rider at the same time. Give another saddle a try, something like a strictly dressage, western, cut back any thing but a forward seat and be aware of how you are positioning your self. Ride in a nice classical position. This will help your horse a lot.
Also in working canter ,when one is having this trouble I will put the horse into a 50 foot circle at the canter and start to open it up bigger as they can hold it. Eventually widening it out to the rail. When they start to loose the canter tighten up your circle again. At the same time try to keep them from leaning to much in to the circle by supporting the shoulder that is one the inside of the circle. Keep the horses body as vertical to the ground as possible.
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