Teaching a horse to canter?

I am buying a 7 year old pony that is really good at walk and trot, but doesn’t canter yet, I am a fully capable rider for her, I just haven’t trained a horse by myself before, how do you teach them to canter? She canters on the lounge line, she was just a little kids pony all her life, so she never learned to canter, and the horses I have helped train were either not to the point that we were cantering yet, or already did it, just needed help learning how not to buck while cantering, and stuff like that.

I trained a 5 year old Welsh cross by establishing a vocal cue (kissing twice) on the lunge, and did that until it was super solid (aka, cue --> directly into canter). Then I hopped on her with my trainer holding the lunge line and the verbal cue transferred right over.

Just keep trotting faster…

This. They eventually loose balance and fall into canter. Reward, trot, try again.

Um, no. Don’t keep trotting faster until they fall into canter unless you’re completely not interested in the right kind of canter! I say this as an owner of a cross of two breeds just unconvinced of the importance of canter.

  1. Connect the back to the front. This is not intuitive for some breeds/types.

  2. Train impulsion from the back and lightness in the front.

  3. Then put the horse in situations where canter will come more likely from the back -like inclines. BUT WAIT - don’t let your horse gallop the incline -galloping is much easier and unfortunately all on the forehand. Trot the incline then canter the incline.

Or you can run your horse into the canter from a fast trot and undo the messed up balance later. It would would work too. I guess it’s a question of how much of a hurry you’re in.

Paula

To depart initially it is take what you are given. But generally ask (on a lunge) for the depart as the horse crosses the centerline and before it meets the wall (with a cluck or a can-tee vocally as well). Then ask at the same place when ridden. Slow down, then ask (perhaps tap on shoulder with bat/sound as well). Do not do it on an incline, that could be a real problem.

I had to work on my gelding’s canter loose, in a ring (not a roundpen, he needed decent straight stretches to actually pick up the canter and canter enough steps to figure it out before having to balance around a turn). He had no natural canter at almost 10 years old, and in a round pen he’d just trot bigger and bigger. When we moved to a barn that allowed free lunging in the indoor (outdoor wasn’t fenced), I used the opportunity to let him work on his natural canter, without tack. Six months later, his rider started cantering him under saddle down the long sides, and today, two weeks after their first canter under saddle, they were able to canter a 20m circle without him breaking or falling over!
He has voice cues for almost everything. His vocabulary includes walk, trot, canter, left, right, in, out, focus, foot/bum/shoulder/nose, touch, back, and step up (his cue to pick up the pace at the same gait). It took about 3 months for him to associate “canter” with picking up the canter.
For the first 4ish months, he couldn’t maintain the right lead for more than a few strides. On the bright side, his lead changes are freaking seamless!!!

Now, all that being said, my guy was abused for the first 8 years of his life. he was in a small paddock with several other ungelded draft crosses, with really bad footing, so he didn’t have the opportunity to develop a natural canter when he was younger. I think that is what made it take so long to develop his canter. But, all that time paid off because he’s got a lovely canter now!!!

Does she have a natural canter at liberty or does she consistently avoid the canter? if the latter, you need to do a thorough vet check to rule out physical issues; also realize that it may take a good amount to time to establish a balanced canter under saddle, & she may never have a great canter … if you are able to gallop her on a track or on the beach/field etc, this will help establish forward.

Actually, if you try to get a nice, upwards canter on the first few tries, and using your hands too much, you’ll just end up with a horse who blocks on the transition.

I was not advocating getting that canter with a rider at first at all.

Paula

Since she canters on the longe have an assistant either in the saddle or holding the line and a longe whip ask for canter while the rider is giving the correct cues. Many smaller horses (ponies) who haven’t carried a rider who can keep them both in balance are afraid of being tipped and going over so the rider must be able to stay over the center of balance and not interfere.

So do you force them into a correct walk on the first ride too? Impulsion first, then you can do something with it.

Thank you! Balance-Impulsion-Canter.

Paula

First establish your communications on the longe, using voice commands that are sharp and crisp. then transfer those voice commands to your under saddle work. Try to see if the pony understands the use of the seat and legs or has only had rein control. Most horses easily learn transitions with very little hand easily. Once you and pony are on the same page for walk and trot, and transitions, put the pony on a 20 m circle in a fenced arena. Establish a steady trot, be sure the ponyis going well forward, then as you approach the fence sit, ask for canter, simultaneously using your voice command and maintaining your bending aids. Praise for even one or two steps. If nothing happens , ask again in the same way, in the same place. You may need to reinforce with a light tap with a whip behind your outside leg.

You do not force anything!!!

There is an occasional horse who finds it easier from the walk on a 10 m circle.

remember that the horse knows how to canter - so you don’t have to teach it how to canter.

instead you need to show it that it can canter with a rider on top. the easiest way to do this, once horse canters on the lunge reliably - is to sit on horse and have someone lunge it. your job would be to just sit there and the lunger will do the work. after horse can canter on the lunge with you on its back then you work to initiate the aids from its back.

using this method it might take a few rides to teach horse canter aids.

good luck.

[QUOTE=mbm;7080539]remember that the horse knows how to canter - so you don’t have to teach it how to canter.
[/QUOTE]

It’s not clear that this pony does know how to canter - trainer bought a broodmare prospect who was naturally lazy (& fat!!!), she just did NOT canter, no matter how determined the foal … she needed a lot of encouragement & groundwork to develop the canter before ever being cantered u/s.

A 7 yr old pony that has only done little kids (lead line? walk-trot?) may have been greatly discouraged in the canter.

[QUOTE=alto;7080611]It’s not clear that this pony does know how to canter - trainer bought a broodmare prospect who was naturally lazy (& fat!!!), she just did NOT canter, no matter how determined the foal … she needed a lot of encouragement & groundwork to develop the canter before ever being cantered u/s.

A 7 yr old pony that has only done little kids (lead line? walk-trot?) may have been greatly discouraged in the canter.[/QUOTE]

I said, she canters on the lounge line, she can canter, just doesn’t under saddle yet!

With impulsion? balanced? not on the forehand?

If pony is all of these things on the longe, but refusing to canter u/s, then I’d be looking at saddle fit or training/physical issue.

If pony has a consistent canter on the longe, why would you not just have someone longe pony + you, ask for canter transitions, apply suitable rider aids etc :confused:

Not that I am the OP, but facing a similar problem. Unfortunately I don’t have a second person to lunge me, so I am hoping the voice command will carry over. My mare is interesting because even though she has inherited her father’s lovely balanced Holsteiner canter the transition is…interesting…And she is somewhat hot so I am somewhat reticent about this cantering under saddle thing.

I just wanted to add to the good advice something that I’ve learned in the process of starting my mare. You need to focus on making sure that your hands stay quiet. I asked for the first few transitions on a pretty loose rein with a soft following hand/elbow so that when she did fall into the gait there was nothing to impede her head.

I also developed her canter on the lunge line, then asked for it in the saddle. It wasn’t pretty at first, but I wanted to establish forward first and let her get comfortable carrying me at the gait (and get ME used to how she carried herself) before I started trying to tweak things and asking her to come back to me for more balance. I found that if I asked for too much at once, she would just say “No.” and quit.

I’m not a professional, just wanted to add my observations into the pile.