View Full Version : It is so frustrating !
1st Aug 2002, 09:36 AM
I am having problems getting a couple of the horses that I ride in lessons to canter. Other horses that I ride strike off when I ask and I am not asking them any differently. Last lesson I got the horse to canter on the circle and then second time I asked her during the same lesson she just would not go, just broke into a faster trot (my instructor checked the position of my outside leg) , though I was using the same aids. The only thing I hope someone can answer for me is the question of the outside leg behind the girth (because I forgot to ask my instructor) - do you just move the lower leg or move back the whole leg - I think it is the whole leg as often it is said to bring your inside hip forward which will put the outside leg in the right place (and that would be the whole leg). I get frustrated when I cannot get the horse to canter after a couple of trys and I think this may make it worse - because this causes me to tense up my leg muscles (and probably seat) when trying 'too' hard. Would the tension pass on to the horse and confuse it. Can anyone make sense of this or has anyone experienced a similar thing.
1st Aug 2002, 10:07 AM
Okay, there a are probably people better placed than me to describe this to you - so hopefully they will post soon.
When you ask for a transition it means using the whole of your body. Often horses will lean on their inside or outside shoulder on one rein, and this will results in them striking off on the wrong leg or just running forward in the trot. These are usually classic signs of the horse being unbalanced before you ask for the transition. Without seeing the horse, it is a bit hard to try and correct what is happening at the time. However, some ways of trying to correct this are...
a) get your inside hip bone well over the inside hind leg. If your body weight is giving conflicting signals to your legs the horse will get confused and is more than likely to 'run' into the trot. To do this try looking over your outside shoulder as you begin to ask for catner, this helps to push the hip bone forward naturally.
b) ask for slight outward flexion of the horses neck, whilst it seems a bit odd at first this actually gets the horse to straighten up through it's back. Once it's straight it is much easier for the horse to canter. If you ride with a crop also try using it in the outside hand, you don't necessarily need to tap the horse with it, often they just respond to it's presence.
c) If these do not work, ocmbine them with over-exaggerating the position of your outside leg and really put it far behind the girth. Depending on how the horse has been schooled over the years the position of your outside leg for one horse, will not necessarily work for another.
d) Squeeze hard with your outside leg, this will push the hind legs under the horse allowing them more impulsion with which to take off.
e) Try up and down direct transitions trot-halt etc. this will make the horse listen to you more. If the horse starts to run on when you ask for canter, don't keep asking for the canter as at this point you need to rebalance the trot, bring it immediately into walk/halt, rebalance and then try and push off into a good working trot and if the horse is really supple from halt to canter.
1st Aug 2002, 01:19 PM
I don't have much to add to Anuvb's great response, but I did want to mention that it may help to give a little preparatory half-halt before giving the canter aids. If he's trotting off quickly, he may be falling on his forehand due to lack of balance, and the half-halt can ensure that he's balanced correctly before you ask. Also, be sure that you're not putting your weight forward when asking. That's something I still find myself doing sometimes and it makes it difficult for the horse to lift off properly.
1st Aug 2002, 03:00 PM
If you are trying too hard (which is very common!) then you are probably tightening up your upper thighs, tensing in your back, and actually blocking the horse from swinging through his back and engaging his quarters for a smooth transition. So the horse hollows and runs faster instead. Try concentrating on walk/trot transitions, making sure that you are opening your pelvis to allow the upward transition, and feel a tightening in your pelvis for the downward transition. Make sure that you can do a few strides of sitting trot keeping the same rythmn and keeping your pelvis relaxed and "open". Then try a few walk/canter transitions - just gather the walk up, open your pelvis and push a bit harder. Doesn't matter if you get a couple of strides of trot, the point is not to think too hard, so that you don't tighten up. Once you get in the habit of the transition again, you'll be fine.
This problem often occurs when going from a horse used for beginners, to one that is more advanced. The advanced horse is used to more precise aids, and to listening to the seat. The rider doesn't quite get it right, gets tense, tries too hard, and then it all goes from bad to worse. I've been riding for years, and to my embarassment had exactly this problem when I started going for training on an advanced schoolmaster, three or four years ago. Suddenly, from riding my old mare who knew what I meant, I had to be super-precise in my aids. I learnt a lot though, and am a better rider for it. Just think of this as a phase that is adding to your experience, and try to be more aware of which parts of your body are in tension, and learn to control the tightening and loosening of your muscles. Good luck.
1st Aug 2002, 03:10 PM
I sometimes have the same problems with the school horses I ride. I find I can get a great transition out of a walk, but when I transition from a trot, half the time the horse would just run.
I read an article in Practical Horseman about trot-canter transitions, and when I used their tips in my next lesson, my transitions were all incredibly smooth. Here's the basic gist of their suggestions (with some things my trainer has told me):
1. Make sure you're moving in a nice, steady posting trot. It's hard to ask for a smooth canter transition if you're not posting with your horse or he's losing impulsion or whatever. Have a nice, smooth, steady rhythm before you ask for the canter.
2. Shorten the inside rein (support with the outside), and give a nudge with your outside heel a few inches behind the girth when you sit your post. (This, believe it or not, worked even on school horses with dead sides!) Make SURE you are sitting back when you ask for this. Many a horse will immediately stop cantering the second your weight goes too far forward.
Hope this helps!
14th Aug 2002, 05:02 PM
OH MY GOODNESS! I have been struggling with this for two months!!!! I was reading your post, and I could have sworn that I wrote it! A few people have told me that everyone has at least one major "issue" with their riding at any given time, and this has been mine. It's good to hear that someone else understands!
14th Aug 2002, 05:49 PM
Just a few things I wanted to add to Anuvb's post. When you are flexing the horse's neck to the outside that is actually bringing the horse's head "out" of the way. Also, when you are cueing with your outside leg pressure, imagine that you are picking up the outside ribs and throwing the inside leg out. Throwing that shoulder out is what you want because thats the correct lead :D.
*throws confetti* 100 posts for me! :D okay sorry had to have my moment of celebration :p
16th Aug 2002, 01:48 PM
Thanks everyone for your advice !
I have had a few lessons on a dressage schoolmaster recently and there was no problems asking for canter - from walk even ! However I am out of the country at the moment and have not yet had a chance to try it out on some of the school beasts! These horses are ridden by children and novice adults and I suppose they are used to being pulled in the mouth and inadvertently kicked so, as people have said before, it is no suprise that they have lost responsiveness (poor things). However it upsets me that you have to 'kick' some of these school horses to get the horse to canter as things should not have to be that way.
Hot to trot I recommend that you get some lessons on a 'true ' schoolmaster if that is possible. It has done wonders for my confidence as I have realised that it is not ALWAYS me but in fact may be the horse that you have to ride in the school - and it is not the horses fault but the way that it has been ridden in the past that is the root of the problem. To be able to ask a dressage horse, that is capable of advanced movements, to make a transition and for the horse to do so when you ask is a wonderful feeling and you know you have asked properly !- I hope you get to experience that too !
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