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Discuss Slowing canter for western pleasure at the Horse Training forum - Horse Forums.

I have a Polish Arabian mare I am training Western pleasure with. She's 11 years ...
  1. #1
    Full Member DreamingInColor's Avatar
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    Slowing canter for western pleasure

    I have a Polish Arabian mare I am training Western pleasure with. She's 11 years old, 14.2hh and I've had her since 2001. She is an all around horse, she does Hunter/Jumper, Jumpers, Dressage, Roping, Team Penning, English Pleasure, Endurance, Trail, Halter and Showmanship. I am now going for the extra one, Western Pleasure. She can do this with the gaits she needs for it, and she does it extremely well, earning loads of high point awards and championships in all areas of riding. She naturally has an extended trot that looks gorgeous(you know those arabs), I have already been able to slow her trot to a very, very slow and nice jog. She's very easily taught. She has always had a fast canter, and when I first got her, she had been being neglected and was an extremely rough canter ride, but she has smoothed out(thank goodness, if I kept riding that I would have ended up needing back surgery! lmao) and slowed down to a nice canter, but we're having trouble slowing at the canter, to a western pleasure lope. She works absolutely beautiful in draw reins, and even though I'm not doing anything different(she's already got a nice arab western pleasure headset, draw reins aren't needed, I am just using this as an example from when I used them to get her head flexed for it) she does a rocking horse canter(I'm not a fan of the rocking horse canter..I like a much slower lope for WP, but not rocking horse..they look weird doing it!), and I can get her to do an awesome lope then if I ask her for more "go"..but I will not use draw reins on her in the arab breed shows/region shows. I've tried the 'canter a few strides, then stop, then repeat' method and that will slow her down for that day, but then the next day she's right back at square one and I've been working on this since the beginning of last year. I cannot get it correct, I feel bad that I am misleading her somewhere in my training. So I would like any ideas on slowing her canter to a lope, please!! Thanks!
    "When nature made the Arabian, she made no mistake"

  2. #2
    Senior Member kat399's Avatar
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    I worked on a horse who had the same problem. Ask her to collect and then strike off out of a corner. Don't put any pressure on the bit when she's at the moment of suspension but as soon as she lands do a slight half halt. It might be confusing at first but once you get the rhythm it's easy. Make sure to sit deep in your saddle and relax your legs so she doesn't think your asking her to speed up. Keep half halting when she's got all hooves on the ground. I did this for an hour with a speedy appy and at the end he had a very smooth Western lope. My coach was very surprised.

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    Try working in circles. Let the figure slow her down. Take off at her nice canter. Get her going smoothly on a 20-30 meter (large) circle. Then slowly spiral her toward the center until you get down to 15 meters. Keep her from falling in by supporting her with your inside leg. Keep your outside rein steady to keep her from popping her shoulder out and overbending. Sit more weight in your outside seat bone to allow her inside hind leg to reach under herself better. Sit BACK, look UP, relax your lower back, BREATHE, and slow your own seat down and really drive into the saddle.

    Once she's going at a slow lope in this small circle, spiral her back out to the large circle. Use your outside rein to keep her slow (half halt her with your outside rein and inside calf). Keep your own seat steady and slow. BREATH slowly. Hum or sing a slow tune, or put some slow music on. Or, try putting some bells on your saddle so you can hear the rythm. They will help your horse too.

    If she speeds back up, spiral her back in and get her slow again.

    It takes a LOT of muscle and balance for a horse to lope slow properly with a rider up there. Just be patient. It will take MONTHS of proper riding for her to build up those muscles and really get a nice lope down pat. Just keep working and remember to reward her for loping nicely.

    Also, so she doesn't get bored, take her out on the trail! Work her up hills at the trot in a lowered frame to help build those topline and hip muscles. When you canter on the trail, collect her up to a lope for a few strides, then let her back out. She'll have fun out there, and you'll still be able to work on her.

    ~Barbara
    Arete Stables
    "To be an equestrian in the classical sense is not just to be a rider. It is a position in life."
    --Charles de Kunffy

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    Full Member DreamingInColor's Avatar
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    those are great ideas, and I will definitely be trying that! She does a perfect lope on the lunge line if I just wiggle the lunge line and bit and tell her "easy" she slows waaaayyyy down and does it great, so I am thinking she's just having problems with carrying a rider while doing it, I am 85lbs, so I don't think it should be too incredibly hard for her to learn to carry me like that. Haha, she goes on trails every day after riding, sometimes we just have a trail day. We have loads of hills so I make sure to work on those, going up and down(not over working her on them). We have trails that go up into the mountains, and she loves riding out and going through rivers,woods,etc. and exploring. I think every horse should get a chance to get out and trail ride, just so that they don't get arena-sour and it makes it a lot more fun for them, I think. Just a change in scenery I think is good for them. Anyway, As soon as I get the chance to ride, like when it ISN'T 18 degrees and snowing, I will work on that.
    "When nature made the Arabian, she made no mistake"

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