Advice for 5yo stressing about the canter transition

now_loves_mares

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My just 5yo, who's still a little green, seems to be quite stressed about the transition up to canter. She was getting the hang of it last year, then had about 3 months off over winter, and now she is properly back in work she really isn't settling into the canter part.

She's sharp, but also needs to be ridden firmly off the leg, and will get a bit bolshy if you don't keep her active, then remember and ride more strongly. I find I need to keep her sharply off the leg from the outset, then she is normally fine. But even if I do this, she gets stressed about the transition. She's pretty much ok on the lunge, but ridden she throws her head up and hollows. Then of course I collapse and flap my elbows like a chicken, she gets stressed again, and then she threatens to back right off the leg and turn herself inside out... It's normally ok for the first transition, and the canter itself is getting really nice, today it felt totally up in front and rideable. However, as soon as I changed the rein to ask again, she could sense it coming and even the trot was getting choppy, with her head rather violently being tossed back at me.

In the spirit of TD's post below, I clearly am not asking her correctly or doing her any favours. Any tips to make it easier for both of us? I find she's fine when jumping as that gives her something else to concentrate on (and possibly me too, as I suspect I'm now anticipating issues). When lunging I use the word "canter" followed by a sort of trilly PPRRRR sound which she was taught as "go faster" but I've never really used it when riding. Would it be as simple as that?

I didn't really see it through today as had been bucked off and stood on already (not really her fault, we were chased by dogs
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) but it's a shame as the canter was less painful than rising trot; and it's kind of going to be hard to do well eventing out of trot
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KatB

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How is she if you get off her back when she is cantering? Have you let her just bowl on into canter a bit? It is messy, but to start with you can kind of bump them into canter from a slightly more forward than normal trot? Will she canter out on hacks?
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now_loves_mares

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Ummm - I don't really hack out! we only have roads round us, and she's still a little at the "unpredictable" stage
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Getting off her back might work - my trainer did the important work on her last year (which is probably why she got the hang of the transitions) and she said that at first she always felt the need to go into a forward seat. She's maybe just a bit weaker in the back again and finding it hard to balance my weight (though in my defence, I do weigh under 8 stone
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KatB

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Ah ok!! Does she do pole work and jumping yet? If so does she "fall" into canter after fences? Sometimes hacking out is the best way to get them forward, my horse was horrid and couldn't canter in a school for AGES as he just wasnt balanced enough to get round the corners and as a result panicked and wouldnt go into canter at all!!
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Try asking for canter out of a corner so she has the whole long side to canter down? And get off her back so she is wanting to go forward a bit
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bclaire5712

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i would break the canter transition down in to stages. collect her up and put your outside leg on then release and carry on trotting then once shes settled with that ask for canter over a pole as they tend to concentrate on the pole and keep thare head down makeing it easier for you and therfore more comfortable for her.
 

now_loves_mares

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Yes she's done quite a bit of jumping, and is pretty smug about it - can canter dog legs between fences, that sort of thing. She doesn't seem to have this "I won't go forward issue" when jumping - it actually seems to settle her. Agreed that accidentally falling into canter might help, though I don't have jumps and as I use a borrowed school, not sure if they'd let me keep a couple there - I could ask though.

It's annoying, as once she's in canter she's balanced, rhythmical, fairly steady in the hand - quite easy. You just need to get there first!

If I can walk tomorrow I will try some different things - otherwise, I might just lunge her as she clearly needs no more time off!
 

punk

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She's not by Accondy is she?!!!

Only a joke, but we bred a filly from our WHP to Accondy, and she is a great little eventer now (only 14.2)

We had terrible trouble getting her to understand the canter aid!! As you say, she was quite happy to hop a X pole and break into canter, but from trot to canter, her head would come up, tail swish and just run faster!!

Took a lot of patience - even me running in front of her in 'canter' mode!!!! Did work - she seemed to understand the difference between me trotting and cantering!!
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Try doing more over poles if she enjoys it, and giving the aid as you land each time - and then a few strides before the pole once she has got the message.

One point though - she was quite a late developer (like all Accondy's) and was still down at the front at 4. so found it difficult to get hind legs under her. She is now 6 and finds it all very easy - be patient!!!!!
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now_loves_mares

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No not an Accondy - I've heard they're a bit sharp! She's by Spartan Heights though, and boy can she move like her lineage. Thankfully she hasn't figured out that this can be done with jockey on board
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I think I'll keep using a wee jump for now, probably no point stressing about it as I'm sure she'll realise it's easy eventually. She's still quite whippet like but also strangely strong in her rear end. She's so short in the back (only wears a 5'9" rug) and then her bum really comes under her, that she looks like a steeplechaser - hence the ability to gallop astonishingly fast.... She'll probably be a rubbish show jumper then
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Baydale

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I'd put a pole on the ground in opposite corners of the arena, ride a circle then ask for canter with the voice over the pole, not changing anything - assuming your position was good and the trot was forward enough. If she canters, carry on down the next long side and circle, avoiding the other pole, then come back to trot, trot a circle and then ask again over the other pole. If she doesn't canter, stay on a circle at that end of the school and ask her again over the pole until she gets the message. Once cantering I wouldn't stay in canter for too long, work more on repetitions until the penny has well and truly dropped.
 

amandaco2

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is it the canter or sitting trot she gets wound up about?
i would try to keep her relaxed and working properly and accepting you sitting by sitting for 3 strides then rising again.make sure the rhythm and shape remains the same
then quietly ask for canter on the odd occasion.going onto a circle can help keep the bend and keep her rounder.
 

SamuelWhiskers

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My big irish horse was just the same with his canter, he is 7 this year and it is only just coming together now, but has been well worth the wait!

My trainer did exactly the same as Baydale said, as he also loves his jumping, infact we even lent one edge of the pole on the boards of the school, creating a mini mini jump, this worked a treat!

I also came right off his back in a forward seating and just concentrated keeping him going forward for as many laps as i could get. He cantered when jumping a course and when hunting ;-) ! so i carried this on out hacking, taking opportunities on wide grass verges, big fields and tracks and just kept sending him more forward if he looked like spooky in the hedges.

Not sure if you can box up and go somewhere away from the roads with a friend and canter together, gradually my horse has forgotten how difficult he thought it was, now enjoys it!! We had our best collected canter ever at our lesson on Thursday and boy it felt good after 2 years of waiting!!

I hope this helps!

P.s i don't really have use of a school at home, so i'm sure it won't take you 2 years!!
 

now_loves_mares

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Thanks everyone - useful suggestions that I can try. Unfortunately I can barely move today after getting kicked in the knee yesterday, so it will have to wait a few more days (she says optimistically).

I will maybe try to get my OH to come and video me next time so you can give me some CC (oh but be gentle!!)
 
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what i think is happening is you are both anticipating the transition. first make sure your horse is comfortable with u in sitting trot, horses that get nervos of the canter transition get tense as soon at the rider sits. the reason she does not do it when you are jumping is because you don't have the same reaction, you know you have to canter and you just do it. you need to think about riding a generous 20m circle and do quick canter trottransitions trying to matain the sitting trot between, if she gets tense and starts backing off the leg go back 2walk trot transitions, and change the rein alot. you must make sure you are not tensing the hand or driving with the leg let your self become soft and move from your hips and stomach so that your hand is giving and your leg can be quick. remember when she is doing someting right just sit still don't drive your horse forward because it will push her off balance and she will lose confidence and panic more.
 
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