>Subject: Re: Correct canter leads
>Date: Thu, 31 Aug 1995 18:37:43 -0700 (PDT)
>>I retrained a very thoroughly messed up mare that we rescued from starvation
>>last year who had a problem with her right lead, and the canter in general.
>>Had I punished her in any way I probably would not still be alive today- she
>>was VERY tense about the canter (especially when I asked for the right lead),
>>bucking, spinning around, threatening to rear and take off. Patient calm
>>persistence won out in the end.
>Could you elaborate on this? My 3 1/2 y.o TB is also very tense about
>the canter. First he bucks, then he rears, and then he tries
>desperately to take off. I've just stopped trying for now, and we've
>been working well at the walk and trot doing schooling figures until
>we're both bored (but relaxed) out of our minds. But I've been
>thinking about reintroducing the canter. On the lungeline, he also
>bucks and rears. A few harsh words and he stops and eventually he'll
>settle down, but under saddle, that hasn't happened.
>So I wondered what you meant by 'patient calm persistence'. What did
>you do? When ? How? Advice greatly appreciated
>Incidentally, he also spends a good part of the day bucking and
>rearing and doing amazing vertical leaps out in the pasture apparently
>just for the fun of it. He's been thoroughly examined and no physical
I know you said he's been examined, but was it by a chiropractor? That was
what helped my mare, Fancy, ALOT.
She would not act up in the canter on the lunge aside from the occasional head
toss to the left when we were going right (because she'd rather have been
going to the left, her "better" side). Since the left was he better lead on
the lunge, under saddle I started there, yelling at her and turning her to one
side if she bucked, praising her when she did'nt. She pretty much quit bucking
after the first chiropractic adjustment, so I'm not sure my training had
anything to do with that!
The major problem came going to the right. Fancy by this time was convinced
the left lead was the thing to do; after all, she'd been praised for it, and
at this point, a more actively praise seeking horse would be hard to find!
Some of her attitude was "please don't beat me", though, and this is what got
her in trouble, because her brain would just shut down when faced with a new
task- she was afraid to try and fail for fear of getting whacked. I don't
train through punishment, and I could tell if I did lose my temper just
once I might not survive the episode.
All this was over a period of six months or so, BTW. Anyways, when first asked
to canter on the right lead, she would corkscrew around and go to the left
again. This evolved into threatening to rear when I would not allow her to
turn around to the left. She would get very nervous the whole ride,
anticipating my request for the right lead. I almost sold her at this point; I
would get off her day after day just in tears. I cared about her a great deal,
and it seemed she liked me too by then- when loose she would follow me around
like a big dog (I let her loose in the yard while I am doing stalls and she
will follow me around from stall to stall, grazing just outside their doors,
We would go back to just riding the walk and trot for a few weeks, like you
are doing, then try the canter right lead again, with the same response. I
finally tracked down and called the man who had broken her at age 2 ( possibly
the source of the abuse she had suffered, but her *owner* had starved her,
too; she was a walking skeleton when I bought her) and asked him if he'd had
any problem with her canter. He said no. I asked him what aids he used for the
depart. He used the spiraling method someone else mentioned on here, and the
OUTSIDE LEG ONLY. Here I had been using inside seatbone and both legs, with
the outside leg back. Believe it or not, the first time I took her on a spiral
and brushed *only* my outside leg back, she jumped right into the right
lead canter! I felt so stupid, but so happy! We just did a few strides in
right lead that day, but a little more each day for the next week; within
about two weeks we were riding out in the field and I could ask for the lead
anywhere, not just on a spiral.
Fancy is the first horse I have owned that is *this* sensitive to little
position changes and subleties. My others are used in my lesson program and
are used to kind of having to "decipher" aids. If its too far off, they just
won't do anything. Fancy acted as if to her, a***up was going to get her
punished, hence the tenseness and acting up when she did'nt understand what I
meant by an aid. Now she accepts new challenges much more calmly, and if she
makes a mistake, does'nt lose her mind because she knows I won't hurt her, but
that we'll just try it again.
So that is what I meant by patient calm persistance!
Your horse *may* just have alot of energy, especially since it sounds like he
amuses himself when loose with the same antics he exhibits under saddle! Also,
he is still pretty young. If he has ever suceeded in losing the rider while
bucking, he may have learned to use it to get out of being ridden. You did not
say what his mental state is like under saddle- does he seem calm until the
canter, then acts up and gets agitated and won't settle down afterwards? How
much grain is he getting? Turnout? If you feel that he is too much for you to
handle, I would not hesitate to seek professional help. In the meantime, a
good chiropractor (I use one who is also a DVM) can tell you if there are any
physical reasons for the behavior. This kind of thing is really hard to
diagnose on the net because there are so many variables that go into the
equation that can only be seen in person- and by knowing the particular