So, I have this 7yo large pony I bought in August. Typically while trotting he has an easy slow pace, and then sometimes when you push him out he moves out really nicely. A lot of the time however, if you try to make him move at more than a pokey pace he does this strange hopping thing? If you continue to push him he’ll hop into a canter for one or two strides. It almost feels like he’s a little off (which is what I thought at first but he has been extensively checked over) with his front end kind of popping up- its hard to describe. Sometimes, he doesn’t do it at all, and other times he does it all the time. Most of the time, its just every now in then especially up the quarter line or in one particular corner. My trainer thinks its excessive energy or something and her solution is typically to have him canter a few laps right off the bat to ‘run it out of him’. It doesn’t bother me much per se, but if he does it in front of a judge, it looks like I’m riding a lame pony, so I was wondering if someone had a different opinion both in what it is he is doing and how to potentially stop it.
It sounds like he is behind your leg. Rather then moving forward, he goes up to avoid engaging his hind end. Galloping up can help, not because he is hyper, but because it gets him to engage. I know alot of ponies who do this. It’s a learned behavior from teaching beginners.
I had a school pony that would do this when she got board–kind of hop into a half canter step. Some days she was obnoxious about it and other days not so. Usually, if she were being ridden by the walk-trot kids she would get bored and do this, but if it was with an older kid doing canter and jumping as well as trotting, she wouldn’t
I had a young horse that would so this. It was basically an aversion to going forward and properly balancing around the corners. Fitness and proper forward/engaging work was the remedy. He also need a little more respect for the leg.
OP, be clearer with your aids. Don’t allow pokey paces.
He is giving you an « in between faster trot/canter » gait…
My older 17h2 gelding pony used to do that when he thought one of his beginner rider was asking for canter from a slow poked trot. He would actually kinda pretend to start cantering by lifting his head and « hopping » a few strides.
He was actually really listening to what the rider was asking; a mix of faster/misplaced for canter cues. So can’t blame him.
He wasn’t lame at all. And he tried this fooling trick on me but I always corrected him by either transition to walk or canter, and then reestablishing the trot correctly.
It was just a little cue problem. Once he « remembered » what my working walk-trot-canter cues were, it was fine.
Loved him to pieces, may he rest in peace.
This is likely due to him just not wanting to go forward - cantering before you work is a nice way to get them loose but I wouldn’t call this a behavior due to being fresh, I’d actually say it was more to do with being lazy.
I had one that did this everything he walked in the ring at a show - never at home, drove me nuts!
When he does it, try kicking him forward and making him gallop a lap, he’ll learn quick it’s easier to move off your leg and trot up and underneath himself than it is to have to gallop around.
Also work on fittness and getting him strong!
My bold. Your pony won’t look lame when he does this, it’s just a step up into the canter. It is an evasion because it’s easier to canter on the forehand than to trot pushing from behind. Your trainer’s solution isn’t due to using up excess energy, it’s because she wants him to move forward and galloping him a bit helps get him off his forehand. Which then helps you because he’s going forward when you come back to the trot, making it easier for both of you.
Flatwork is key to his success in jumping, so taking short cuts and going fast won’t help him, or you, be successful. It will just illustrate the holes in your riding and his training and cause issues down the road.