Everything apparently but that’s horses for you.
There is something in particular that I’m doing wrong and I need to figure out what it is. A trainer would be helpful here, but I’m not quite ready to re enter the world of lessons. H’Appy isn’t to the point where I think the money would be well spent yet. Soon though. Instead I’m turning to the hive mind of the blogosphere for suggestions.
The problem: all my horses think “canter” when all I want is “trot”.
It happened a lot with Gem and both TrainerJ and I chalked it up to her hyper sensitive, high energy self.
But it is happening with H’Appy too and I’m convinced it is something I’m doing to confuse him.
Let me fill in some details.
Saturday afternoon I hopped back on. This was the third ride with the Dynamic Duo out of sight in the new pasture and true to form he was settled and focused once again. He may be a Doofus but he is a Doofus with a brain and time has shown me that after a few repeated experiences, he returns to his calm self. He didn’t even need time on the lunge before mounting.
Off we went for a nice long walk warm up. While he was more focused, didn’t yell for his friends and didn’t argue with me, I could tell he had a lot of energy so we quickly proceeded to trot. Except he wanted to canter instead. We talked about that and after a while he chilled out about it and acquiesced to trotting.
Confession time here. I could enter an arena and remain in the trot for hours and never tire of it. That’s probably not normal and more than likely bores the horse to death even with changes in direction, various figures and walk breaks. I get it.
Since I wanted to work on the canter anyway, once he gave me an entire circuit of the arena without breaking from the trot, I cued for the canter and off we went. I focused hard on sitting down, leaning back so that while I felt like I was laying on his butt my shadow proved I was vertical (I’m a habitual forward leaner) and not driving with my seat.
By the end I was feeling a lot better about my position and steering and it was a fantastic ride.
When I did take breaks from cantering and then got him back into the trot he would try to canter again. Now I know canter work jazzes many a horse up and I’m sure he was also anticipating the cue, but this isn’t unusual for horses I am riding to jump to canter.
Since he was attentive under me, I decided to pay extra attention to what I was doing so that I could maybe isolate some factors and play around with my position. This led to the following data:
- Leaning forward while posting speeds him up and he breaks to canter
- Leaning back does the same thing
- Sitting tall and vertically slows him down and keeps him in the trot easier
- Slowing my posting allows him to stay under me better and therefore maintain the trot better
- Turning is almost always where he breaks to canter. Maybe I’m sports car racing around my turns? Or maybe he learned in lessons that he was always asked to canter in a turn?
- Going back towards home is another favorite spot to try to canter. That’s bad behavior related not necessarily my fault.
- He does prefer to shuffle in the trot or break canter versus give a nice true working trot. Extended trot leads to cantering. Fitness issue? Connection issue on my end?
- I tend to throw him away in the trot transition. This was created by Mr. I Like To Throw Temper Tantrums throwing his head all over the place in the transition. I think maybe I should stop doing that now and keep contact so he can’t go racing off in the wrong gait.
- I am always more tense than I should be and I’ve figured out that I have a pretty hard core driving seat at all times. I yell even when I don’t think I am. This probably isn’t helping.
There were other issues that popped up in the ride as always but this is the main one I’d really like to fix soon. I want to be able to trot when I want and for how long I want without breaking gait. For a lot of reasons but mostly because it is annoying as hell to be trotting one step then cantering then walking or halting and cycling back through. That whole rhythm thing and all. I had the same or similar issue with Gem too so it has to be driven by me and something I’m doing while trotting that tells the horse to canter without me knowing it.
Any suggestions from you all on what to work on or improve to fix this?