Surely we should be able to do a prelim by now?

NooNoo59

Well-Known Member
Joined
3 December 2011
Messages
1,009
Location
kent
Having a negative day. Have had my boy for 2.5 years he was unfit and had never competed. We have been out a few times and done ok at intro. But the canter still needs lots of work I have 2 lessons a week and he is worked 5 days a week. We seem to have hit a wall! It is hard to keep going when others on the yard who started at the same time as me with a new horse are now starting novice. Where am I going wrong ?
 

claracanter

Well-Known Member
Joined
18 January 2012
Messages
1,427
What is the problem with the canter and what are you doing to try and improve it?
If you are having two lessons a week and not making any progress, maybe it's time for a fresh approach, perhaps try a new instructor?
 

NooNoo59

Well-Known Member
Joined
3 December 2011
Messages
1,009
Location
kent
Messy transition which is either me going into panic because it's not right or him not listening. Then maintaining the canter to execute movements. His last owner hardly ever cantered him and she had him for 8 years! So we had a lot of ground to make up but I am losing patience with myself as I am not a bad rider bit stiff and tense at times. He is very sensitive to ride but I only want to be able to canter a circle etc!
 

Asha

Well-Known Member
Joined
25 February 2012
Messages
3,821
Location
Cheshire
I found going on a farm ride / the gallops really helped my canter transitions. Maybe try that ?
 

chaps89

Well-Known Member
Joined
8 July 2009
Messages
4,638
Location
Surrey
I am really limited in how much canter work I can do due to a lack of school and (at this time of year) soggy off road hacking. Our canter has improved no end though through getting walk and particularly trot right. Lots of transitions, work going up and down hill and mostly focussing on straightness. So it can be done but in all honesty I wouldn't have believed it without my instructor - maybe a fresh set of eyes and slightly different approach might not be a bad idea?
 

Sussexbythesea

Well-Known Member
Joined
2 July 2009
Messages
5,411
To be honest if you’re having two lessons a week and haven’t progressed then you need to change instructor.

Things I’ve done that helped me, really slow the trot down with your body and rhythm of rising before asking for canter. Practice lengthening and shortening the stride in trot using your body. Only sit for a few steps of trot at first if this unbalances you. If the trot is too quick everything becomes unbalanced very quickly and then the Horse will tend to run on rather than strike off. Try leg-yielding across the school from the centre line and ask for canter as you reach the outside track. This engages the horses hind quarters and makes it easier for them to strike off.

If you have a tendency to tip forward as you ask for canter look over your opposite shoulder as you ask for the transition as this will help prevent that (I tip I read by Tina Sederholm years ago).

Start with cantering only a few strides at first before bringing back and rebalancing at trot. Make sure the horse is not overbent to the inside so keep your outside rein and don’t overuse your inside rein, you’ll find you get a better canter if the horse is straighter.

If you have a biomechanics instructor near you have some lessons with them. They understand that not everyone else is built a natural rider but will really help you become aware of how your body influences the Horse even just tiny postural changes can make a massive difference.
 

tatty_v

Well-Known Member
Joined
25 March 2015
Messages
825
Do you think you are putting too much pressure on yourself for everything to be perfect before moving up a level? I've moved up to Novice with my pony despite the canter not being perfect and am really enjoying the extra challenges, as is he. I would also second the recommendation to consider your instructor. Do you do lots of schooling exercises in canter? We spend lots of time on canter leg yields, loops, counter canter etc.
 

ihatework

Well-Known Member
Joined
7 September 2004
Messages
17,180
2 lessons a week and 2 years later, still with issues getting into and maintaining canter - yes I would agree there is an issue somewhere.

What you need first is a good and honest trainer that can evaluate the whole situation - horse / rider / management and make effective changes as required.
 

be positive

Well-Known Member
Joined
9 July 2011
Messages
19,205
I would be interested to know what exercises you do in the lessons to improve the canter and transitions as I would expect canter to be fairly well established and transitions balanced by now especially with an older horse however little he may have done in the past it is not as if he is still a growing 6 year old that hasn't found his own strength.

Some instructors find thinking outside the box beyond their experience and have limited tools available for anything that doesn't go as it should, I have had numerous through my yard with canter issues and they have nearly all required a different approach to get established, if they cannot just pop into canter I will look at the whole horse to ensure there is nothing obviously wrong and then work on everything else to get them more secure before tacking the canter.
I always try popping a pole or small jump, if that helps we use that method to get the transition and gradually build up the canter, it rarely fails but if it does we will try walk to canter, allowing them to run into it while we are in light seat much the same as you might out hacking, a lot of the canter work will be in a light seat so the horse can move under you, sitting deep will not be used until they are able to maintain a decent canter without getting tight, plenty of moving on, if able some small gridwork will also be used, it can take a few weeks or months to be able to sit deep but by then they should be stronger and carrying themselves and the rider, you can then start to get some proper work.
 

ester

Not slacking-multitasking
Joined
31 December 2008
Messages
52,846
Location
Cambridge
I agree there is an issue for you not to have progressed in that time with that input.

Does he go better in lessons/with someone else on him or is it pretty consistant? I too would be getting an experienced fresh pair of eyes on the situation.
 

Maesto's Girl

Well-Known Member
Joined
4 January 2016
Messages
286
I agree with the change of instructor. I was having issues with mine and added a new instructor to the mix about 4 months ago....we are now almost balanced and working from behind. The right instructor can work wonders
 

TGM

Well-Known Member
Joined
3 April 2003
Messages
15,745
Location
South East
Agree that a fresh set of eyes on the problem would help. Is there any chance that there could be a subtle physical problem that could be making the canter difficult for the horse? Does he canter well on the lunge and/or with another rider? Has he got any obvious conformation flaws that are making the canter hard?
 

only_me

Well-Known Member
Joined
7 June 2007
Messages
13,869
Location
Ireland
How long have you been riding? Are you based at a riding school? Was your horse previously working in a riding school?

What type of horse is he? Some horses find it more difficult in canter than others.

Tbh I’d expect a horse to be able to go out and do a prelim from a young age - mine was 4 when in prelim.

Can you canter a 20m circle and do a trot-canter transition in the the corner of the school?
 

NooNoo59

Well-Known Member
Joined
3 December 2011
Messages
1,009
Location
kent
I am not at a riding school and have been having lessons on my own horses for about 20 years! He is stuffy as has done very little work for most of his life, he is put together well and moves nicely. He seems to be more forward with my instructor and a friend who has a lesson on him once a week but they are both 5ft 8in and I am 5ft 2in so I think length of leg helps. I am having a lesson with a visiting instructor on Saturday so her input will be interesting
 

ester

Not slacking-multitasking
Joined
31 December 2008
Messages
52,846
Location
Cambridge
I don't think not having done much for most of his life is a reason to be stuffy really, it sounds like you are just letting him have that as an excuse. He presumably has a reasonable level of fitness and has now been in a school enough that unless there is a physical issue (which is why I asked about how he was with others) he ought to be able to manage a decent canter.
 

NooNoo59

Well-Known Member
Joined
3 December 2011
Messages
1,009
Location
kent
I don't think there is a physical issue he has had a bit of a respiratory thing for a couple of weeks and I have made allowance for that. Back lady is always very pleased with him and getting new saddle fitted next week. I wonder if I am cautious about getting him too fit in case he is too much horse for me to ride? This is what I like about the forum gets the little grey cells working!
 

ester

Not slacking-multitasking
Joined
31 December 2008
Messages
52,846
Location
Cambridge
ah, yes I do think you need to think about your feelings about it and how you ride him :). Again that is why another instructor input might well be helpful to help you figure things out and move forwards :).
 

HappyHorses:)

Well-Known Member
Joined
28 May 2010
Messages
851
Defiantly be good to get a fresh pair of eyes on you by the sound of things.

Do also think that you might be over thinking the canter aspect which in turn could make you over ride/ tense etc without realising it?

Will he jump around a course of fences? I found this good for one of my youngsters who just didn't get the canter thing. Trot into the fence and he will land in canter, light seat and encourage on for a few strides. A course is great as having to plan for your next fence will naturally encourage you to sit up and keep your contact whilst having the forward momentum.
 

Bernster

Well-Known Member
Joined
14 August 2011
Messages
5,824
Location
London
The combination of my horse's greenness/age and my riding ability have meant we have made slow progress. But it has been steady and a vast improvement from where we started. If it were a case that you felt it wasn't as balanced, or soft etc., as you'd like, then that's one thing. But actually reading what you've said, I'm with the others and would agree that it's right to expect more progress than you have. Sounds like one for a fresh pair of eyes, maybe for them to ride and comment, and ensuring there's nothing physical hindering him.

I had a mare who struggled with one canter lead (that was the only indication), who wasn't obv lame, wasn't picked it up despite several checks, who turned out to have an underlying issue after all and needed surgery.
 

JFTDWS

Wears headscarf humorously...
Joined
4 November 2010
Messages
20,919
Location
East Angular - ish
It certainly sounds like something is amiss - either poor instruction, too much soft-hearted-ness from you, or an underlying issue.

If you were struggling to get competitive at prelim after a couple of years, I could well understand it - it can be quite competitive, especially at unaffiliated, with very experienced riders and purpose-bred horses dominating some leagues / venues. But I would certainly expect any sound, reasonably competent horse to be capable of performing an accurate (if not delightfully attractive) prelim within the time frame you describe.

A fresh pair of eyes is definitely the way forward - several pairs of eyes would be even better!
 

OldieButGoodie

Well-Known Member
Joined
16 August 2017
Messages
165
I had a similar problem with my big lad for quite a few years which was fixed by a couple of things. Weight loss (his not mine), in hand pole work, better saddle and good instructor. OK in the past the instructor had to chase him with a lunge whip (admittedly) but it certainly made a difference! She also sometimes gets me to stand in the stirrups just to allow him to 'go'. Its also been drummed into me that the quality of his trot is vital for a good canter - he has to be going forward and listening. He's always been a wee bit stiff (he's only 8) in his hips and seemed to find cantering with a rider on board difficult. Now that he's leaner fitter older more forward and more balanced he is doing Prelims. We seldom make it into the top 6 but after 3 years I'm just happy to be there!!
 

NooNoo59

Well-Known Member
Joined
3 December 2011
Messages
1,009
Location
kent
Pole work sounds good. I don't jump anymore but might get my daughter to jump on. Also May be having a free canter might get him more awake. Weight is always an issue although we are working on it. It's just disheartening getting on in the school and he is such hard work when I know how well he can go even with me on him.
 

NooNoo59

Well-Known Member
Joined
3 December 2011
Messages
1,009
Location
kent
I don't think not having done much for most of his life is a reason to be stuffy really, it sounds like you are just letting him have that as an excuse. He presumably has a reasonable level of fitness and has now been in a school enough that unless there is a physical issue (which is why I asked about how he was with others) he ought to be able to manage a decent canter.
Had a much better lesson tonight with a get on with it attitude! Managed 4 decent canters the transitions need work but that's me. He has a big canter and I have to also get used to that. Different attitude different pony. Thanks for the advise hopefully now onwards and upwards !
 

ester

Not slacking-multitasking
Joined
31 December 2008
Messages
52,846
Location
Cambridge
Great :), don't underestimate what the pair of you are likely capable of if you want to do it :). While millipops is obviously amazing I do find her story with Kira very inspiring as she was a horse truely doing nothing :).
 

Embo

Well-Known Member
Joined
9 October 2003
Messages
1,509
Location
Kent
Good update OP!

Just to add my two cents...

Firstly, don't compare yourself to others! You are on your own journey and you should focus on that. I know from experience how disheartening it can be when you watch friends progress much faster than yourself. It doesn't get you anywhere, so concentrate on you. Once you crack your current problem you will probably find you make quick progress - until the next problem comes along. Training is a constant of progress and plateau. It sounds like you're already making headway, which is great!

Attitude is everything, and it seems like you've worked this out for yourself already. If you feel bad for the horse because he didn't do anything for 8 years, it will come through in your riding. Then the horse will do as you allow, such as break from the canter or not canter at all. Get on with a positive mindset, and be firm but fair. Insist that he canters as long as you want him to. This may require a bit of 'loud' riding for a short while, but if you are consistent in your insistence the horse will soon learn that you mean it and it's much easier to do as you ask in the first place! Again from experience, my horse is naturally lazy (energy efficient!?) and will do the very minimum the rider allows (unless you're jumping, then he has all the energy!). So I have to make sure I am always on the ball. If I let one lazy transition go, it sets the mood for the rest of the session and I have to work extra hard to get him in front of my leg.

Have you spoken to your instructor about your concerns? They are not mind readers after all. Although I agree that more progress should have been made in the time you state, if your instructor is assuming you are happy as you are, why change? For the first year with my current trainer, my confidence was shot and I could barely get correct lead in canter, let alone maintain it! So he kept a soft approach and didn't push me. It was only when I turned around and said, you know what, I'm fed up with this and started voicing ambitions and having discussions did the training change. Progress came much faster after this. If you already have these kind of discussions, then I also agree that a new instructor may be the way forward.

Try and keep the horse's workload as varied as possible. We've had a long, horrid winter. I myself have been limited to riding in our small indoor all winter as I work full time and our outdoor has no lights. Weekends were spent with some hacking and some trips out if we were able, but he was becoming quite stale by the time the clocks finally changed. Now we are able to add even more variety, he is much happier in his work.

Try not to keep looking at how long it's taking. It's taken me 4 years for my horse and I to finally start understanding each other and making real progress - and we still have a long way to go! We aren't all blessed with natural feel and talent for riding, so it can take a little longer to get where you're going. But you will get there :)

Best of luck, I hope we get even more good updates soon!
 

NooNoo59

Well-Known Member
Joined
3 December 2011
Messages
1,009
Location
kent
Thank you. My instructor gets me she understands that I have needed time to get to s much bigger much lazier horse. Will let you all know when we do that first prelim! It's very hard not to judge yourself against others but I am trying and everyone can see s huge difference in him so positive thoughts from now on
 

ycbm

Well-Known Member
Joined
30 January 2015
Messages
28,115
Great advice from everyone :)

I've only ever ridden one horse who took that long to 'get' canter. He has PSSM.

You describe him as 'big' and 'lazy', and if your progress doesn't carry on as you would like and he continues to feel lazy even when he should be fit, you could think about testing him for type I and/or trying very high vitamin E with oil or alcar.
 

Notimetoride

Well-Known Member
Joined
30 August 2014
Messages
1,093
I think you just need to enter one and not worry. I started doing prelims with a very hit and miss canter (still is sometimes) but I found in a competition atmosphere, adrenalin helps no end ! I bet you a pound to a penny you'll get that canter in your test. And if you don't, it's not the end of the world. It's only one part of the test - you can pick up marks on other things.
 
Top