What is it with the canter? It’s the gate the I adore more than anything – the gliding on air feeling with a 3 beat gate and a rush like being on a roller coaster. At the same time I’ve come to slightly, should I say, “fear” it, on ‘new’ horses as my adult precautious nature sets in and I think of how in my experience, I’ve had more horses buck at the canter than any other gate. The first time I cantered my husband’s horse Tiara, everything went fine. So we cantered again. Everything was fine – and yes this was her first time cantering under saddle with a rider. The 3rd time in that session started out okay and then she was like, hey I wonder what happens if I start bucking? I stayed on for a couple of bucks that felt like 5 minutes in slow motion, and then once my center of balance was off, it was all over. I knew I would be meeting the ground in seconds, and I did. Course, I got back on and managed a walk but that was all I could really manage while I was mending my ouchies.
With my first horse Cheyenne, she was lovely at every gate. She had a thing though for the canter where she would try these little mini hops from time to time. She would rather just walk as she was rather lazy by nature, but once we’d get up to a canter, I knew that her normal super obedient attitude would change and she would try things. Maybe it was my anticipation for what I expected that caused her to recognize my intuitions and THAT was what caused her to change. Horses are in fact, very in tune with our emotions. Or maybe she was just lazy and really didn’t want to go. I don’t know.
What I DO know is that the canter now for me, is a gate that I move on to with caution. Naturally when cantering an off-the-track thoroughbred, that precaution comes without exception, no matter how docile he may be, and especially when doing it for the first time.
A few weeks back I was on Kilo and feeling very confident that day. I kissed him into a canter. He broke into a very quick trot, so I slowed him down to a more controllable pace. We tried again. He picked up the correct lead at the canter and after probably 2 strides I slowed him down. That was my first test. To see how he would initially react. Baby steps.
Last night we were in the ‘big’ field which is about 120 feet square. Normally we ride in a small(er) circular area in the 1st paddock but in preparing him for future trail rides, I wanted to test a new area, and a bigger area, to see how he would react. Tacking up was okay until he spooked over a crazy fly hitting the electric. He didn’t have a horrible spook, but the suddenness of it made even me jump a little. I was adjusting his saddle and he was tied to a firm post with a loose quick release knot. He spooked, jumping backward about 10 feet and the knot came loose but his lead was long enough that I was able to grab it and quiet him down as he stopped. I’m glad he isn’t a spook and run type of horse.
After several minutes of lungeing, he kicked up his heels a little and was feeling good. The weather is MUCH less humid, thank goodness, and it shows. I got on and we walked and did some turns and bending. We went around the big big field and then came back to our starting place. Worked a little on the trot and he was listening well, as always. Then I had the confidence to just do it. So I asked him for a canter. He almost immediately picked up the lead like nothing and unlike my mare that always hated the canter, he had his EARS FORWARD! I’m thinking to myself, gosh I LOVE having a thoroughbred!!! Don’t get me wrong, he’s not like a get-up-and-go type. He would still rather be lazy, but at least when we’re cantering he really does seem to enjoy it. We didn’t do too many strides – maybe 5 or 6 but it was enough. He was good. He was happy. I was happy. So we ended on that note 🙂 And I can’t wait for our next ride.
I LOVE this horse!!!!