He still thinks he's on the track and other cantering problems

This topic contains 3 replies, has 2 voices, and was last updated by  gina_pasquini 3 years, 8 months ago.

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  • Ribbon Original Poster
    Topics Started: 2Replies Posted: 2

    I’ve been having a lot of trouble with my OTTB leaser as of late. You may recognize me from the post about circling around the mounting block – thats still an issue, but we are getting better, slowly (VERY slowly…) – this is a new problem that’s just come in, seemingly with the cold weather.

    We’ll be cantering along, la-de-da and all of a sudden another horse starts cantering and suddenly my retired race-horse thinks he’s back on the track. Running up another horse’s tail like a lesson pony then acting offended when they kick out, running into the center of our ring only to try and throw me, then begin a leisurely trot back out onto the rail.

    So we try cantering just by ourselves. NOPE, still not good enough, its work. Back to the middle and back to the hopping.

    Rinse and repeat.

    So here’s my problem straight down to it:
    – My horse is having group cantering troubles, and now singular cantering troubles.
    – He’s never done this before, only recently after he’s gotten back from being a lesson horse over the summer as my lease was terminated and he was in full ownership of the barn, and I’m thinking it had something to do with being a “beginner” pony all summer.
    – This usually goes on during cloudy/rainy/windy weather. So bad weather

    What my instructor has told me:
    – I’m “choking” him with my hands (even though I ride with an extremely loose rein for warm up and only gradually increase as he likes his head down)
    – I need to relax and if anything keep him going through the racing other horses even though I feel like I’m in danger and I feel panicked.

    I haven’t cantered him in a group setting in over two months, and we’ve just started getting back into the singular cantering thing, but we do have hiccups.

    His tack:
    His brow band is too small, and I am replacing that soon. Other than that, his saddle fits him nicely, he has a nice bit in that’s very forgiving (we switched from an eggbutt snaffle to a D-Ring snaffle, but he’s been ridden in harsher and we made the switch during the summer and he was perfectly fine)

    So my real question:
    What am I doing wrong? Is something wrong with him? Am I doing something wrong other than with my hands? How should I approach the group setting?

    Yes I do Dressage, no I am not afraid to jump.

    gina_pasquini
    Topics Started: 1Replies Posted: 22

    Personally, I think he’s being a brat, senses your fear, and is taking full advantage of it. It most likely is something he picked up being a lesson horse over the Summer, and now you’re stuck with the problems. Your anxiety is most likely making it worse, but I don’t suggest riding your horse through a kicking episode because one of you is going to get hurt. My suggestion? Go back to basics. I would start from the ground, and then move up from there. On the ground, go over basic suppling exercises and teach him to give to pressure on both sides. Pull the rein gently toward his shoulder, and when he gives, reward him by instantly releasing the rein. This will help you control him if he decides to be foolish in the arena while cantering. As for the group cantering issue, I would lunge him while the other horses are doing their thing, and insist he focus on you. When they start to canter, insist he just walk. Ask him to canter while they are doing something else, just make sure he’s not looking around getting distracted. The point here is to keep his focus on you. Then canter him while they are cantering. When he seems to calm down, then you can take the saddle and hopefully his problems will have ironed themselves out. I hope I was able to help you. If you have any other questions, don’t hesitate to ask. Happy riding!! 🙂

    Ribbon Original Poster
    Topics Started: 2Replies Posted: 2

    I completely agree with your observation. He is being a brat, and he’s gotten a huge ego over the summer (one large reason why I have a strong dislike for other people riding him – he learns bad habits and him going away for the summer was like the last nail on the coffin). Its only gotten worse with the winter months since I can’t exercise him as much (no indoor and iced over rings, no trail riding since he’s not a trail horse). We’ve made progress, but I’m getting plain frustrated since I watch my instructor hop on him and he’s perfect but the second my butts in the saddle he turns into a speed demon.

    The ground exercises I will definitely try out, but sadly I’m not allowed to lunge at my barn. My instructor is more about toughing it out, and when I approached her about the lunging she said it wouldn’t be any use, that “I’m the one with the problem”.

    So I’m back to square one, but thank you for your suggestions!

    Yes I do Dressage, no I am not afraid to jump.

    gina_pasquini
    Topics Started: 1Replies Posted: 22

    Okay. Then here is plan B. When he becomes perfect at the ground work, then of course you will practice this while you are in the saddle. Gently apply pressure to the left rein toward your knee. When he gives, you will release. When you have perfected this, you will take it with you into the arena. Start by walking, ask him to stop, take three steps back, and then ask him for his head. Then move up to the trot. If you feel him speed up, you will ask him to stop, take three steps back, again stop, and apply pressure toward your knee. Then proceed. Work your way up to the canter. He’ll figure out that speeding is too much work, and this should help you gain control again. It will also prevent you from becoming scared, and “choking him”, which is a natural response to your fear. I hope this will help you. Please keep me posted.

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