Working on the Canter

Does anybody have any suggestions for schooling the canter?

I am riding a horse that doesn’t exactly like to canter. The owner thinks maybe it is because of his short back although saddle fit has been checked many times and that doesn’t appear to be a glaring factor. The vet/chiro has been out to see him fairly recently and she hasn’t expressed any concerns about his inability to school dressage. His owner says that many times in the past when she has asked him to canter he will stomp and/or buck. I haven’t experienced either of those when I ride him but he does pin his ears and the transition is not very clean.

My inclination is to just ride a ton of transitions until he doesn’t feel like it is such a huge event- I think it has been a major fight for a while so every time someone asks for the canter he wigs out. Last night I asked him for canter from the walk and though he pinned his ears, he picked up the correct leads and I didn’t get an out of control explosive depart either- it was decent. He also came back to me a little quicker than previously as well. I’ll admit that with this horse I have actually had more trouble with a downward transition from the canter than actually getting him to canter. Our trainer said that his owner has had the opposite problem so they haven’t had the opportunity to work on downward transitions from the canter much at all. That was a lengthy explanation, I know, my apologies. I’ll return to the question at hand:

Can you share any tips for schooling the canter?

  • Should I only be asking from the trot or is asking from the walk okay too?
  • Any canter relaxation tips for horse or rider?
  • Do you do any specific exercises to work on canter that you really like?



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