Strong mare - I'm struggling in canter

(45 Posts)
SerotoninCanEatTomorrow Fri 10-May-13 08:57:26

Hello all, I have been given the awesome opportunity to ride a friends horse regularly (which is awesome!)

She's 20, been there done that and eaten the Tshirt in absolutely everything. Very responsive under the leg, lovely paces and I love her.

However, she is a nightmare in canter. She bucks on the leg aid, and then is almost impossible to ride a controlled straight canter - she is so strong I can't hold her and she has a tendency to do sideways instead of forward. I want to feel in control - I can't hack her because she is so fizzy she just dashes off and there isn't anyone I can ride out with at the moment.

What can I do to control her? I already ride in a bungee hmmconfused

Smartieaddict Fri 10-May-13 09:22:41

Have you tried having some lessons on her? What is she like to canter in the school?

Is she like this with your friend?

SerotoninCanEatTomorrow Fri 10-May-13 09:42:04

The cantering is in the school I haven't taken her out myself yet (only started riding her last week)

The local riding school won't teach her but I think one of the liveries there used to teach so I might ask her for a lesson.

I am pretty confident but she is so strong!

SerotoninCanEatTomorrow Fri 10-May-13 09:42:53

My friend hasn't ridden her in ages, i think part of the problem is that she hasn't had regular work.

KnittyGritty Fri 10-May-13 09:49:16

Could you lunge her before riding?

SerotoninCanEatTomorrow Fri 10-May-13 10:38:10

I was thinking of that but I have never lunged before. Have been on a lunged horse, seen others doing it and I checked out a couple Of YouTube videos - can I lunge her in her bridle? How would I attach the lunge?

I am so clueless hmm

You can lunge in a bridle, goes through the bit ring on the nearside, then over the poll and attaches the other side. Swap the lunge rein to the other side when you change direction.

If you haven't done it before it's good to get a more experienced friend to help - your position etc. makes quite a difference and it's easy to get in a muddle with the lunge rein and trip over the lunge whip.

SerotoninCanEatTomorrow Fri 10-May-13 13:23:53

Thank you, I think this afternoon I might tack her up and lunge her for 20 mins or so, then get on and work her a bit more. Maybe when she is less excited she will be easier to handle (and I won't be dreading trying to canter)

Callisto Fri 10-May-13 13:31:03

Get the bungee off for a start. Why does she need it?

Regular work. Some horses can be ridden off the field as and when, some need to be either worked every day or be roughed off completely.

You need to be really careful about lunging if you have never done it before. I doubt you'll bugger her up by doing it wrong, but if she is feisty (and it sounds as though she is), she could tank off with you and either hurt herself, or hurt you. You will need side reins, a lunge rein, lunge whip and a pair of gloves. Lunge line should go through the bit and attach to the ring on the far side from you (some people like to put it through the bit, over the headpiece and then attach to the bit ring on the furthest side from you but I think this puts too much pool pressure on). Side reins should be tight enough to keep her nose in and not so tight that she is over bent. Do you have a round pen you can lunge in? If not use one end/corner of the school depending how big it is. Remember she is 20, just work on transitions to start with - walk-trot-walk etc, and just give her 10 mins the first few times. No need to ever get her cantering on the lunge.

I would also suggest the Dr Green has got something to do with her behaviour, and could she be in season?

Callisto Fri 10-May-13 13:37:22

Just to add, lunging is a really good way to get a horse responding to your voice and helps to build a bond. Try and be consistent with your voice commands, praise her if she does it right and she will learn to listen to you. You'll find that she will also begin to listen to your voice when you're on board.

We had a big, uncouth bugger in for breaking recently (who nobody liked apart from me) and I did lots of work with him on the ground. After a couple of weeks he became very voice responsive and would do stuff for me that he refused to do for anyone else.

Booboostoo Fri 10-May-13 16:51:36

Has this horse been off work? If yes she will need bringing into work slowly. If she was field rested she will need a couple of weeks of walk work (minimum) before you do a month of walking and troting. Only then should you think of cantering her. You also need to do low and long work to strengthen her back and take off the bungee. Best to hack her out in straight lines to start off with and don't introduce lunging until she is a lot fitter.

Has her saddle been rechecked? She is bound to have changed shape after a while off work.

When you do canter her keep her on a circle, give her head a bit (the cantering on the spot could be her reacting to a too strong hand aid) and keep her bent around your inside leg. To control the speed half halt her but make sure you allow her to go forwards.

SaggyOldClothCatPuss Sat 11-May-13 20:56:58

I wouldn't put the lunge line over the poll. It gives a gag action and may wont necessarily release when you need it to. Clip on one dude of the bit, go under the chin and through the nearest ring. Or use a caveson.

SerotoninCanEatTomorrow Sun 12-May-13 12:34:18

I lunged her, discovered quickly that she is terrified of the lunge whip. She went beautifully for me, walk trot and canter. I am a bit nervous of losing the bungee though!

We worked her an hour and she was still full of go although she did sweat up. Only 20 mins on the lunge and then some walk/trot/halt transitions.

DolomitesDonkey Sun 12-May-13 12:46:12

20 minutes is a bit much for any horse on the lunge - consider halving this and using a stopwatch. It can out serious stress on muscles and joints.

Ditch the whip and "follow" with your free hand. Your hands should guide her, one at her head and one an invisible line at her tail. You shouldn't need it anyway as you should drive her away with your body language - ie don't lead her out to the circle, she should move, not you!

horseylady Sun 12-May-13 16:59:50

I never use a whip. I'd only ever lunge for a max of 20mins and I tend to stick to walk and trot (trot mainly as I use it for fitness work) I hardly canter her on the lunge unless I've got an issue. It puts a tremendous amount of pressure on them which is unnecessary.

Go back to basics, get some lessons and work through it slowly. Lots of half halts, lots of transitions and get yourselves both balanced. Stick to walk and trot for a while if necessary. The canter will come.

And please please ditch the bungee.

SerotoninCanEatTomorrow Sun 12-May-13 18:18:44

I didn't use the whip at all after her immediate reaction - didn't need it. She listened well to my voice and was so responsive. Tomorrow I will see how she goes without the bungee and lunge a bit first.

I think she is just so excited to be going that she gets herself wound up going in. Some lessons would be good, the instructor I use said to lunge her for a while first and was who told me I needed the bungee - not sure why but I imagine its because she gets her head up too high and charges off!

I need us both back to basics, going to ask one of the girls that has a livery there to hack out with me tomorrow I think, see what she is like.

Butkin Sun 12-May-13 20:38:15

All the advice on lunging so far is sensible. If you're worried about her carrying her head too high have you put her in a martingale?

I would ditch the bungee as well. We have used them when DD was little and not strong enough to hold her ponies in a good position but unnecessary and restrictive for an adult to use unless there is a specific purpose.

I would also find out what feed she is on and work out with the owner about taking some of the fizz out of her that way. If she is getting good grass and fibre she doesn't really need any mixes if she's not competing.

SerotoninCanEatTomorrow Sun 12-May-13 20:50:58

She is on grass and a tiny bit of hay, no mix whatsoever. She is currently stabled during the day and out at night.

I think she is just excited and so strong - once I have got her cantering she pulls me diagonally across the school and I can barely stop her!

It's a bit scary and I think I am telegraphing that to her because I am nervous of her reaction - the bucking on going into canter and then the tanking off almost sideways!

I do ride her on a circle and transition into canter from a walk as she rushes in trot!

I think we need to practice together grin

batteryhen Sun 12-May-13 22:14:04

I would also suggest plenty of work in trot for now. Forget the canter and concentrate on transitions up and down from trot to walk, lots of half halts too. Keep them short and snappy to get her really thinking and listening to you. You say you dread canter, she will pick up on your nerves and this will make her more exciteable.
Lucky you having a lovely horse to ride smile

gordyslovesheep Sun 12-May-13 22:45:09

I was going to say what Batteryhen said - work on being in control in trot for now - she should be listening to you not rushing ahead x

SerotoninCanEatTomorrow Sun 12-May-13 23:44:25

Thank you all for the advice, it's really useful. Going to try her with no bungee tomorrow, she is such a kind horse on the ground so I hope I can get the best out of her!

She is so stunning looking too, gorgeous chestnut with a flaxen mane...

Pin up!

SerotoninCanEatTomorrow Mon 13-May-13 14:57:17

Took the bungee off today. Lunged gently without it first, just walk and a little trot.

Rode in it and she was brill. Didn't rush, ears forward and listening, head wasn't up and she felt way more relaxed, so thanks to all that said to get rid!

Didn't canter today just worked on leg and voice aids grin

CountryCob Mon 13-May-13 16:16:47

I think working on trot and lots of transitions is the best way to start, when she gets strong it might be an idea rather than just holding back to check gently with one reign and then the other if that makes sense so they cannot take the bit and to try and keep things a bit softer. A lesson may help teaching this, maybe consider a hacking lesson if you can find an instructer with access to a horse locally who will? Also I find loose ring bits more helpful as they cannot hold as much and I moved from an eggbutt to a lozenge snaffle as the eggbutt was hitting the roof of my warmblood's mouth. I had/ have this problem with mine but more under control, he is also much better in front than behind other horses so that could be a good place to start, I must warn you though it took me a couple of years to get on top of, he was 12 when I got him, we had a lot of problems with evasion in the school as well and the horse did not understand that leg on means go which was a problem when trying to get him out of the bucking, turns on the forehand helped with this. Sometimes a friend and I go out and take turns doing short bursts of canter in front and behind to get them listening to you more, like schooling for hacking work, that helps mine realise its not all a race. The roots of my horse's bucking are in ill fitting saddles over the years though so I would look for movement in the saddle which could be causing problems, especially at the back of the saddle where she may have lost muscle with being out of work, if the problem is that she is trying to get away from pain then all the riding in the world will not solve and lunging will not show. As usual it is back/ saddle/ teeth checking and a lot of patience, expensive timsconsuming and easier said than done with a horse you do not own I know, good luck and take it easy at first x

dappleton Tue 14-May-13 11:19:40

Just catching up and reading through your posts, congrats on yesterday, sounds like you are making progress. Glad you have got rid of the bungee....
In my opinion if the horse is a been-there-done-that type the odd behaviour is either a health problem - back/teeth, a tack problem - possibly even just the bungee! - or its just getting to know each other......if you're already making progress it sounds likely to be the latter.
I wouldn't rush the canter, it will come. I'm working with a new horse at the moment that is similar, beautiful until we get to canter! canter is a big unbalanced mess with limbs flying all over the place, head flying up, dropping onto the forehand, jumping through the air....all of the last 2 weeks I stuck to walk and trot and outline - bit of lateral work, flexion work etc. Back to canter this week and it's already better. If you are still struggling get some lessons to help.
Good luck and have fun

elastamum Tue 14-May-13 11:38:29

Sounds like you are doing well! It takes a few months to establish a good relationship with a new horse so dont rush it and work on getting her calm and listening in walk and trot.

Lunge routinely for 10 -15 mins before you ride her until she settles for you. Far better to do this than have the first 15 mins with her not listening.

One comment on canter work is that most people dont do nearly enough schooling in canter to establish a good canter. If you think about trotting a horse for 15 mins routinely and doing school movements to establish a good trot, then you need to be doing similar in canter regularly to establish a good canter. Horse needs to be fit or they cant do what you ask, but you cannot get a good balanced responsive canter with good downward transitions, unless you also school in canter.

I do lunge in canter once mine are fit, as 3-5min canter sessions on the lunge help the horse establish their own balance and pace. I dont like to use side reins as I like to use lunging to get my horses to stretch down - but if you are not sure you have control I would keep them on and stick to trotting and walking with lots of transitons to get her listening

I then school in canter. 20m circles on either rein, up and downward transitions through walk and trot, working up to canter serpetines with transtions through walk on the centre line. It does take a few months to get to this point, but if you want to have a horse that is good in canter you need to work at it until canter is no big deal.

Check her back and teeth if they havent been done and also consider that it is a lot harder to school an older horse than a young one as often they dont have the right muscles developed to do what you ask.

Enjoy smile

SerotoninCanEatTomorrow Tue 14-May-13 13:05:42

Thank you all for the help!

I think I may have rushed us both into cantering, happy to stay at walk and trot for now until I know she is listening and responding.

I will keep you posted grin

Ehhn Tue 14-May-13 14:44:44

Just a thought - introduce leg yield in and out on a circle at a trot, bringing down from 20m to 10 m back to 20m. Then when cantering, so something similar, though you may need to only go down to 15m if she's 20 yro. Can do this in the school or in a field.

SerotoninCanEatTomorrow Fri 17-May-13 05:27:18

She had me off yesterday. Currently I'm hospital with a cracked vertebrae sad

SaggyOldClothCatPuss Fri 17-May-13 06:48:28

Fuck! Fingers crossed for a fast recovery.

Callisto Fri 17-May-13 08:17:22

Oh no. Poor you. What happened?

batteryhen Fri 17-May-13 08:22:32

Oh no! Fingers crossed for a quick recovery x

mrslaughan Fri 17-May-13 08:37:28

Oh shit - get better soon.

SerotoninCanEatTomorrow Fri 17-May-13 21:39:01

She took off in canter, got herself all above the bit and was going to fast to maintain the ever-decreasing circles, she slipped over and I somersaulted straight over her shoulder. Scary and VERY painful hmm

batteryhen Fri 17-May-13 22:26:49

That sounds awfulsad. I hope you feel better soon. Just a thought, if she is getting above the bit, is she hollowing through her back? Have you had her back checked? Just the bucking when asked to canter, getting above the bit and getting faster and faster sounds like she may be in pain? Especially if she has been there and done it, maybe this behaviour is pain induced?
Are you still in hospital?

Callisto Sat 18-May-13 08:07:43

Not good. Try not to let it put you off, and have a speedy recovery.

Booboostoo Sat 18-May-13 09:41:11

Oh my goodness! Poor you! I hope you are not in too much pain and you make a speedy recovery.

SerotoninCanEatTomorrow Sun 19-May-13 01:21:45

I am still in hospital yes, in until at least tomorrow. Won't be able to ride again for at least. 6 months dependant on how well the fracture heals x

gordyslovesheep Sun 19-May-13 20:25:44

oh poor you sad how scary x hope you heal fast

Sounds really rough. sad All the best.

WillowKnicks Mon 20-May-13 11:08:37

You poor thing!! What a shame & you were trying so hard with her sad

SerotoninCanEatTomorrow Mon 20-May-13 12:32:41

Her owner has decided to retire her hmm
She had a look in her eye about the whole thing and was very purposeful - it's going to take me a while to trust a horse again

Ok, I'm going to be not very nice here.

I'm really sorry about your fall, and do hope you recover quickly (my now ex fell last year & fractured his back. T12 I think) took him a while but he's back to normal now.

But, I think reading your thread this is a classic case of over horsing yourself.

I guess as riders its a risk we take every time we ride, but maybe when you do get back on, a calm ploddy type may serve you better untill you've got your confidence back xxx

SerotoninCanEatTomorrow Mon 20-May-13 15:02:34

Absolutely agree - I know what I am doing to a degree but she knew a heck of a lot more than me!

I'm going to get some more lessons before I take on another horse and a ploddy type is exactly what I need. If I can get on again at all - have started having bad dreams about the whole thing!

It's going to be a while until I can think about that anyway.

Is it a stable fracture?

The ex was only off his feet for a week or so, but very sore for about 4 weeks. After 6 weeks he was driving again & then started doing a bit of work from there, 6 months on he was right as rain again .

Once you've actually got back on you'll be fine, its the thought of it more than anything else.

Really hope it doesn't stop you riding completly xxx

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