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Canter to trot or walk difficulty…any suggestions thanks  

Active Member

Canter to trot or walk difficulty…any suggestions thanks

Luna our Criollo 10 year old mare just wants to keep on going….

Looking for any help out there any suggestions please. Luna has had no schooling or very little before we got her two years ago we bought her from a family who found her too difficult to enjoy her. I think before that she was used as a work horse on a farm or ranch with herds either cattle or horse, gauchos style , we are in Uruguay.

I am currently introducing her to all aspects of riding. Doing lots of transitions to slow her down, and its working, she is slowing. The problem I have is when we try canter down to trot it is very bumpy and then she wants to break back into canter without any request from me.

It is as though she is thinking      ‘ ok I am being asked to canter therefore we must be trying to get somewhere as quick as we can until I am asked to stop'.

Even when I hold her in trot as soon as I release she’s off again.  A bit like a spider, two speeds, motionless or lighting fast, nothing in between. Only when we canter.

  This has been the case for the past 6 months. Granted we have not just concentrated on flat work but am lost as to the approach to take now to try to convey the message it’s okay to canter then come down to trot and maintain a steady trot. 

We have been working on long slow walk and trot where she stretches out and she is good with that as are her transitions walk trot, halt, walk, trot, or halt trot halt.

 It’s just after the first canter getting her to come down to stay in a trot is like fighting a bear and she is as quick a as rattle snake, a very sweet one.

  As above anybody had this problem or any suggestions would be appreciated.  I have read the items on here, ‘Forward down Transitions’ and ‘Ride a Good canter Walk Transition’. They are  great but still not quite hitting the mark with me for this.   Thanks   mvfjps  

Topic starter Posted : 24/09/2020 11:13 pm
How To Dressage
Forum Moderator Moderator

Hello @mvfjps

Thank you for posting in our forum ? We just wanted to let you know of two other articles that might be relevant. 

There are a few exercises in these posts that you can try with Luna if you think they'll help ? 

HTD x 

Website Administrator & Lover of Cadbury Creme Eggs! | How To Dressage

Posted : 26/09/2020 11:02 am
Active Member

@how-to-dressage     HTD.  Thanks for the guidance. Appreciated mvfjps

Topic starter Posted : 26/09/2020 12:24 pm
P.B. Equestrian
Estimable Member

The key I have found with these types of horses is getting them to bend through the body and relax in the hand, ie allow the leg and get off the hand. Sounds like you've been making the right moves to get the relaxation and stretching in the walk and trot which is awesome. From here, if you haven't already, I would do quite a bit of gentle leg yields in walk and trot to get that relaxation around your leg. My fave one is simply on a 20m circle leg yield in barely a metre nice and steady, change flexion, then head on out again, and weave in and out of the circle making sure the forehand stays steady and encouraging the hind end to step over and under getting those ribs soft around your legs and elastic change of bend in your fingers. Once good on a circle do the same going large just gently coming in a couple of steps, then back out, and back in etc etc. This will help with the aid for bend which you need when coming out of your canter. If you and your horse can't flex in a relaxed manner, they're going to lock on your hand and rush away from your leg no matter what you do. 

So coming to the canter, once you feel you have this bending business sorted from practicing the lots of mini leg yields, pop up into canter for barely a circle (and it will be much easier to come back on a circle than a straight), really ask for the bend, do some half halts and give and retake of the hands to help get more compliant, close your thigh, think trot, and when back in the trot put the inside on like your going to leg yield out and continue the half halts and releases of the hand so they can't grab and run, and go straight back into your mini leg yields again at a steady pace to get the relaxation through the body and bend around your leg again, then when fully relaxed try the canter again. The key is to get them relaxed in your hand and bending around your leg. Also your voice is a strong tool too, so keep asking calmly for the trot and keep riding to the trot even if she wants to canter. Another thing would be to look at how she does her transitions on the lunge/long lines, and these methods can be used to help strengthen her and build her independence in those transitions.

Carl Hester has a good quote that fits here: "hot horses need to be ridden with the leg on, and lazy horses need to be ridden with the leg off"

Let us know how you get on!

Posted : 27/10/2020 12:31 am