...Do you think it applies equally to xc and stadium? I mean do you ride the same with just a different canter or can you try to be more accurate in show jumping without messing up your horses initiative? Also, if you do have a good canter and your line is good and you can see moving up or holding slightly would improve your take off spot, can you do anything? Or do you really just let the horse deal with it. Or by leaving them alone to they learn to do it themselves? (Anonymous)
These are great questions, as I think so many riders are confused and unsure about this subject, with so many different and opposing opinions out there. You can definitely... (Click on Question Title above (in blue) to read full answer)
Many of us are followers especially in a circumstance that’s new to us, a circumstance where we may lack surety or self-confidence. “If you don’t know where to go, go where someone has gone before!” But this approach won’t always work to your benefit. (Click on Blog Title above (in blue) to read full entry)
Hi Chris! Many horses have this problem! When a horse is having trouble maintaining the rhythm in their gaits, usually one or both of these things is happening... (Click on Question Title above (in blue) to read full answer)
Many performance horses work hard for a living. And since horses don't have the ability to vocally voice their complaints, it is 100% up to us as owners, riders, and trainers to make sure they are truly comfortable in their jobs. While an obvious lameness is usually fairly easy to see, it becomes a whole lot more tricky when the horse isn't outright lame, yet is NQR, or "not quite right."
Sometimes this is due to a bilateral lameness, meaning both front feet or both hocks hurt equally, which creates a situation where the horse might not actually "limp," because both sides hurt. And sometimes the horse has soreness somewhere in his body, that is unlikely to make him limp, even if it is quite sore. This is a tough situation for some horses, if their owners are the type to say, "If he's not limping, he's fine." Not only is it unfair to the horse to be made to work when he's sore, very often when minor problems are overlooked, they can turn into big problems down the road.
Here are some things to think about, and 15 different signs to watch for, to help you make sure your horse isn't working with pain in his body: (Click on Article Title above (in blue) to read full article)
A good trainer will know what you are capable of, and may sometimes push you slightly out of your comfort zone, asking you to do something that you would probably not attempt on your own. This can be a great opportunity to make a big "deposit" in your account of confidence!
As you are about to come down the centerline of a dressage test, briefly think about something that you know will make you smile. You and your horse will both relax, which will make for a happier performance. The judge will see the difference!
The Great Debate - To Look For a Distance or Focus on the Quality of the Canter When Jumping
There is a great debate in the Eventing world, almost exclusively in the US... over whether or not riders should "look for a distance" for their horses when coming into their fences. While it is commonplace for Hunter/Jumper riders to do so (and this is where this idea comes from), Event riders need to think a bit differently for one very important reason! Because our cross county jumps are solid, we HAVE to train our horses with the mindset of nurturing their ability to think for themselves. Read on to find out how and why! (Click on Article Title above (in blue) to read full article)
We have been working on our canter all winter and I do feel like my ability to compress his stride is improving. I wanted to send you a recent video of us jumping, I can get him back and balanced after the fences but it takes me several strides and as he gets more excited about jumping I noticed that he likes to lunge forward in the last stride to the jump jumping at vs. up and over. I have read your article about how to get your horse to spend more time in the air and I will use all of those suggestions at home. Just wanted to see if you have any other tips or things that we need to address. (Susanne) (Click on Question or Video Title above (in blue) to read the answer and critique of this video)
...In the walk and trot he is light as a feather. Maintains an incredible contact for the amount of training he has had and is soft in the hands and very responsive. When we get into canter, he maintains his connection and pace but becomes a bit of a freight train. He isn't "hanging" on the bit and diving down, but is just very strong, and has a tendency to lose his right shoulder when passing the by the entry gate. He will try to "bolt" (not full bolt but really cock his shoulder out and drift) towards the gate even when on a 20m circle on the opposite end of the arena. Even with a VERY strong outside rein and really putting on the leg, I feel he could break for the gate if he really wanted to and I don't have full control. With how gentle, willing, and soft he is in the walk and trot I hate to "upgrade" to some of the stronger bits, and wondering if there is something you know of that will give a little more control and help shut down his shoulder without being consistently harsh. (Samantha)
From what you are saying, my advice would be to... (Click on Question Title above (in blue) to read full answer)
What you do with your seat when you ask for the canter will effect the quality of the canter transition. If you stiffen your hips and back as you ask for the canter (as many riders do when they ask for the canter too strongly,) the horse’s movement will be stifled. If you allow your hips and lower back to be supple and follow the horse’s motion while you are asking for the canter, the horse can respond with more active hind leg engagement in the transition.
"When you get on, you should feel that your stirrups are a little bit short. As you warm up, as you come out of the saddle and come forward and jump, you should feel that you’re coming into a more comfortable position. If when you get on, you’re comfortable in your stirrups, they’re invariably too long." ~ William Fox-Pitt
"Dressage is not just for competition. It is gymnastics for horses and all horses can benefit from it, as they are more likely to stay sound with a long, stretchy neck, soft body and easy movement." ~ Carl Hester
"Connection is often misunderstood. The horse must be taught to go from the seat and leg to the hand for it to be correct. But some riders will try to force it by working their hands and arms to “work the horse’s neck back and forth to achieve that lightness,” which is incorrect." ~ Lilo Fore
With horses that like to curl their neck and become over bent, the rider needs to be careful not to get their reins too short. This will cause the horse to stay too short in the neck. Think of having longer arms that are always reaching towards the horse’s mouth.
If you overdo counter bend to the point where your horse is falling in on his inside shoulder, it can quickly become a counter productive exercise. Do not let the horse’s neck bend excessively in any direction.
When riding on slippery footing, think about some of the same tactics that you would use to drive on an icy road. Go a little more slowly and don't make any sudden turns or changes of speed. Also think about stepping a little more into your outside stirrup in your turns, to help you be more effective with your outside aids. This will help your horse keep his outside hind leg more under his body, so his hind legs will be less likely to slip out from under him on the turns.
"Working over a single pole on the ground, notice if the young horse prefers to chip in a short stride or stretch for a long stride. Then remember this is the default that they will return to when things go wrong." ~ Eric Smiley
Does Your Horse Pick Up the Canter With His Haunches In?
Left to their own devices, horses almost always find the easiest way to do things. And that can mean finding out that it is easier to pick up the canter by swinging the haunches to the inside, rather then staying straight and actually engaging the hind legs more to make the transition.
Why is picking up the canter with the haunches in a problem? Because it almost always means the horse is more on the forehand as he begins the canter. And it is always better to start with a good canter, than it is to try to fix that canter after a poor transition!
Now, on to how to fix the problem! First of all, make sure you are not actually causing this problem by... (Click on Article Title above (in blue) to read full article)
What does this rider need to work on?? If YOU were this rider's instructor, what particular exercises would you have them do? (Click on Discussion Title above (in blue) to read this educational discussion)
We must not forget that the horses we ride today are descended from the ones who did NOT get eaten by the mountain lion at the water hole. In other words, it is perfectly normal for horses to be spooky.
We were working on his flying changes—a middle aged OTTB with a flock of internalized tensions and a penchant for sucking back behind the leg. I was hoping to use some combinations of canter leg yield and canter half pass to make him come forward to the hand and to lessen the surprise of the change aids. (Click on Blog Title above (in blue) to read full entry)
I find that many riders are using bits that are too big for their horse’s mouths. While certainly better than a bit that is too small, when a bit is too big there is too much movement of the bit sliding back and forth in the horse’s mouth. Horses want the bit to be still in their mouths, they don’t want it sliding left and right all the time.
The Wiggly Worm Exercise is invaluable for green horses, as it will educate them on how to turn effortlessly from feather light rider aids. It can also be a great exercise for improving suppleness and relaxation with horses at all levels. Read on to find out how to do it! (Click on Article Title above (in blue) to read full article)
"The most important thing is for the horse to be thinking on its own. Unless you’re Michael Jung, you make mistakes and things go wrong. You have to teach the horse the stride isn’t always right, the line isn’t always right, and that’s why we start from trot." ~ William Fox Pitt