Controlling canter without pulling

Joined
29 December 2016
Messages
41
Struggling with cantering a new horse… he’s EXTREMELY responsive to the point where if I’m walking and I move my leg a tiny bit he zooms off into trot. I then try to slow him but use of my seat, it doesn’t work, which just leads to me going tense trying to pull with heavy hands and I hate myself for it. If I then ask him to move into canter I wouldn’t say he rushes but just goes. He doesn’t listen and if I put my leg on he just speeds up. If I try to shorten or lengthen it i get nothing so I just feel as if I’m a blob perched on top and for me it’s so important when jumping I have that control/ ability to feel “with the horse”. If I try to ride more with him I just feel like I have to tense up again.
He’s not very well schooled which is something I hope to sort with the help of an instructor so am thinking that could be part of the issue? He doesn’t seem to understand that leg can mean bend or just go. That or he’s just completely not what i’m used to (which is true- old horse I could do a round with completely off the leg with no reigns if needed) or I lack complete ability to ride (also true ahah). Just wondering if anyone has any tips/ advise? Or am I wrong in thinking I should have this control and should just let him get on with it?
Thank you!!!
 

lucy_108

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Joined
28 August 2018
Messages
49
Personally, I'd find an instructor and book a whole heap of lessons, not because it sounds like you're incapable of dealing with this, but because it makes THE WORLD of difference having someone on the ground and you'd be amazed at how some tiny adjustments can really transform the horses way of going.

Most importantly, don't worry about it. Just keep everything chilled. The bottom line is, forward horses have to learn to accept your leg so if that means sticking to walk for 4 weeks, then so be it! I had an explosive little horse much the same, I only had to think trot and we were off and his canter was like riding a runaway train. I went for lessons and found the right trainer. In the first lesson she had me doing turn on the forehand (this horse was in no way, shape or form a dressage horse - he was hardly a schooled horse to be honest :p) and it wound him up something chronic, however, we persevered and suddenly, he began to accept the bridle, listen to my seat and actually lift. Then I was riding this huge powerhouse canter down the longside thinking 'holy sh*t, he's got it!'. I would NEVER have been able to do that without help though!
 
Joined
29 December 2016
Messages
41
Personally, I'd find an instructor and book a whole heap of lessons, not because it sounds like you're incapable of dealing with this, but because it makes THE WORLD of difference having someone on the ground and you'd be amazed at how some tiny adjustments can really transform the horses way of going.

Most importantly, don't worry about it. Just keep everything chilled. The bottom line is, forward horses have to learn to accept your leg so if that means sticking to walk for 4 weeks, then so be it! I had an explosive little horse much the same, I only had to think trot and we were off and his canter was like riding a runaway train. I went for lessons and found the right trainer. In the first lesson she had me doing turn on the forehand (this horse was in no way, shape or form a dressage horse - he was hardly a schooled horse to be honest :p) and it wound him up something chronic, however, we persevered and suddenly, he began to accept the bridle, listen to my seat and actually lift. Then I was riding this huge powerhouse canter down the longside thinking 'holy sh*t, he's got it!'. I would NEVER have been able to do that without help though!
Honestly you don’t know how relieved this has made me! To be honest I accepted I was going to need lessons from the start i think I’ve just Got my self into a state of worry thinking he’s not the right horse for me etc and that’s just how he is. But he sounds similar to yours so it’s a relief to know that it CAN be solved with some work!!! Here’s to some dressage lessons hehe.
 

Bernster

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Joined
14 August 2011
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7,012
Location
London
Is this your horse to ride regularly and have lessons on, not a riding school horse? If it’s yours, then don’t despair! It can and should get better. (Obv a riding school horse can be improved too but you don’t have control over what’s going on outside of lessons.)

I am dealing with the same. 6 months down the line with a new horse and we are finally starting to crack it. That may seem like a long time but it’s been steady progress generally (with a few hairy moments initially!) and we’ve been getting to know each other and doing lots of different things. I actually didn’t do much ridden work in the school for the first few months whilst he built his strength and balance.

First off for me was making sure all was well in terms of the horse being sound, up to the work, tack fitting etc. Then it’s been a full on journey with regular lessons, my trainer schooling him, pole work, long reining, hacking out, and physio, saddle fit. These have all helped us improve. The lessons are a massive part of it as I tend to brace and pull, so I’m learning new tools and controlling my reactions. A neck strap has been a big help too, to avoid me socking him in the teeth!

There will be lots of bits to unpick and your issues will be different to mine, which is why having good help on the ground is vital. I honestly couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel initially but now I trust that it will come - it’s still not there yet but I feel confident in the process.
 
Joined
29 December 2016
Messages
41
Is this your horse to ride regularly and have lessons on, not a riding school horse? If it’s yours, then don’t despair! It can and should get better. (Obv a riding school horse can be improved too but you don’t have control over what’s going on outside of lessons.)

I am dealing with the same. 6 months down the line with a new horse and we are finally starting to crack it. That may seem like a long time but it’s been steady progress generally (with a few hairy moments initially!) and we’ve been getting to know each other and doing lots of different things. I actually didn’t do much ridden work in the school for the first few months whilst he built his strength and balance.

First off for me was making sure all was well in terms of the horse being sound, up to the work, tack fitting etc. Then it’s been a full on journey with regular lessons, my trainer schooling him, pole work, long reining, hacking out, and physio, saddle fit. These have all helped us improve. The lessons are a massive part of it as I tend to brace and pull, so I’m learning new tools and controlling my reactions. A neck strap has been a big help too, to avoid me socking him in the teeth!

There will be lots of bits to unpick and your issues will be different to mine, which is why having good help on the ground is vital. I honestly couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel initially but now I trust that it will come - it’s still not there yet but I feel confident in the process.
Thank you so much for your reply. Sounds like I’m in a very similar situation to the one that you were in that he’s a new horse (mine!) I bought him knowing and expecting that he’ll need work on his flat in order to improve his jumping (he’s got a great jump but I feel his jumping career so far has been rushed and needs pulling back to the basics so he can jump even better/ listen to his rider!). I’ve just started to panic that it’s my fault he’s being like he is but I’m starting to realise from you amazing people that it probs isn’t just me and is down to lacking basics!!! It’s so good to know that it’s something that can be sorted, albeit with a lot of work. Looks like I’ll be booking A LOT of lessons hehe. He flew through a 5 stage vetting last week and his tack is deffo well fitted so not too worried about that but the suggestion of the physio is a very gd point, thank you. A big part of it is him being quite nervous I think, he tenses up alot when he moves forward so I’m hoping time alone will help him chill a bit too. Thank you so much:)
 

iknowmyvalue

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Joined
22 August 2016
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1,027
Location
Lincolnshire
You could be describing my boy! We’re a bit further down the journey than you are right now (I’ve had him for coming up to 5 months) but he was exactly as you describe. I always describe it as like I was wearing electric spurs!

I’ll not say that he’s perfect now, he does still scoot forward if you use too much leg too quickly, but we’re getting there. Like you, his canter used to just be all over the shop, getting faster and faster round the arena (his canter is ENORMOUS which didn’t help matters!).

The biggest thing is lessons and practice! We did a lot of work in walk/trot, especially working on leg yields, shallow loops, spirals etc. All things where you need your leg but the speed is somewhat controlled by the movement itself. Plus changing my riding so the leg is always there somewhat, it’s just a variation as to how much “pressure” is applied. If you like the horse, you’ll get there! I absolutely love working with mine and find him so rewarding!
 

sbloom

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Joined
14 September 2011
Messages
5,897
Location
Suffolk
You describe him as responsive to your leg, which makes it feel like it's your fault for using too much. Actually he's not responsive as he doesn't accept the leg. Instead he's not "on the aids", he's not understanding what the aids mean. Reframe it, that he simply needs time doing the right work to understand what you're asking him.
 

tristar

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Joined
23 August 2010
Messages
5,026
what does he do with his head when he rushes?

does he feel like he`s running away from under you, and do you bounce in the canter, like his back is hard to sit on?
 
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