Horses - Behavior Issues, Breaking and Training/Cantering
I have written to you many times and you have always given great advice. I looked on your website but didn't see any training videos about cantering. I have a 13 yr old quarter horse mare that I have had for 7 yrs. She is a great horse and I wouldn't give her up for anything. I ride her western with a rope halter and side pull. No bits, no spurs.
She has a nice walk and trot and great gallop, but I need to work on her canter. When I ask for a canter, she sometimes goes directly into her gallop. Very controlled, and not "running off" but I asked for a canter. I have her stop, back her up and try it again, but I know it's something I am not doing right or giving her the right communication. Is there something on your website that I missed that could help me? She is a great partner - I just don't want to fail her by giving her the wrong cue.
I saw you were writing to Rick; however, the question ended up in the question pool. When you ask for the canter and she goes into forward movement, are you sure it's a gallop, or is she cantering with a lot of extension?
Do some circles with her when you first ask for that canter. She can't go out into a gallop (controlled or not) if she's going in a circle. That should help her understand that what you want is the canter and that she doesn't need to launch forward. You could also try asking her for the canter on the long side of the arena. When she decides to gallop, bring her down into a circle until she slows the gait back to a canter. When she does, put her back on the rail. Goes into a gallop, circle. Canter, back on the rail. It was a technique we used with horses being restarted at our rescue when they got excited or too forward during the canter. The idea is that she'll begin to put 2 and 2 together and say to herself, "galloping gets me circles. cantering means I get to go places."
Remember, outside leg cues the lead. Outside rein should be open to take pressure off the outside and pulling her into the rail. Inside leg holds her to the rail & inside rein should be closed (straight line, if not a little shorter) to immediately turn her into that circle.
Feel free to email back if you need more clarification. :) Hope this helps.