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You are in... Forums > Riding and Training > General > New horse - issues in arena!

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spirit11

Joined:

Oct 11

Posts: 26

spirit11 says:

New horse - issues in arena!

Hi,

I have a kind of new horse (saving up to officially buy him in Mar/Apr) and currently have lessons on him but I really struggle with cantering in the school.

He is a comtois x anglo arab, 15.2, quite chunky but lots of energy (7 yrs old) and he hasnt really been schooled much for arena work, he is amazing for hacking though

I am not very experienced really but can canter ok on finer/more trained horses in the school, doing circles, routines etc... but I really struggle on him as he has a fast canter and also can only canter from a trot (a fast one at that!) I always feel he is running away with me and I also feel unbalanced compared to when I ride others. Even at a trot, it is hard to trot slowly. Is it just a matter of training and collecting him, or will we always struggle doing that kind of thing?

Any tips would be amazing!

Thanks

 

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dollymix

Joined:

Oct 07

Posts: 1602

dollymix says:

New horse - issues in arena!

sounds to me like it is a matter of practise makes perfect!

 

If your horse has not previously been schooled in an arena, he will find it difficult to begin with. Out hacking, a hrose uses different muscles and generally speaking, although you will enjoy cantering through feilds and stuff, most hacking is done in walk.

 

Take time with him in the school...spend lots of time in walk, getting him to stretch and bend. To begin with, just 'go large' around the arena and keep circle work to a minimum, or at least until he is fully warmed up. In your canter work, again, concentrate on maintaining the canter usingthe whole school, not just on a tight circule, which he'll find difficult. Once you have done more school work, he'll begin to find it easier.

 

Try not to worry about him runnign away with you...if he doesn't do this in open spaces, he is unlikely to in the school. Yes, he probably will feel faster, although to some extent this can be a slight illusion...when a big open field is in front of you to canter up, it'll feel slower than fence posts and markers whizzing past in a school (hope that makes sense!!). He will probably also need to go a bit faster in the school to start with too as he'll find it difficult to take the corners...but after a few weeks, he will get better.

 

Try to practise some schooling whilst out hacking...i.e, trying to slow the trot down, and maybe doing some circles in an open space. Also bend and flex his neck from side to side.

 

You'll get there - it just takes time and practise!

 

Good luck

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psych4riding

Joined:

Jun 11

Posts: 3

psych4riding says:

Re: New horse - issues in arena!

 I completely agree with what dollymix has to say but have a little more to add from a human perspective. You say the canter is rushed and he can only achieve canter from a fast trot. If you look at the first bit, as dollymix says, this could be the illusion of being in a smaller space and/or the canter could be rushed because you're nervous/apprehensive of what it is you're doing and transferring these emotions to your horse. So perhaps, as well as gradually increasing your schooling work with him, focus on making yourself relax. Deep breaths, mentally working through every muscle in your body (start at the top and work down, or the bottom and work up - depending on where you feel the most tense) and relaxing each muscle individually and even thinking 'slowly' will all help to relax you which, in turn, will relax him.

You say you're already having lessons on him. Does your instructor remark on your body position and how relaxed (or not) you are or is this something you could discuss with your instructor for them to focus on with you? Sometimes someone just telling you to drop your shoulders, relax your hips and stop tensing at the knees is all you will need. I have found that people I have taught in similar situations to yours also 'fix' their hands and tense a lot through the shoulders, arms and wrists/hands. Fixed hands on your horse's mouth will never lead to a nice ride and he won't thank you for it!

If you can hack out with someone who can instruct you on your position (as it should be in the school (and out hacking but everyone likes to be more 'comfy' out hacking!!)) then even better. That way you can work on your position and feeling relaxed in all three gaits so you develop a feel of how it should be when you go in the school. That way you know exactly what it is you're trying to achieve and what it feels like rather than having an idea but not being sure how to get there by the most effective route.

And don't be afraid to try a few schooling exercises while you're hacking. Big circles in all three gaits (go easy in the canter - slipping on wet/greasy grass is unnerving for horse and rider) and slowing/quickening the gait (can be done in all three gaits) using only your seat and a half halt while in an open space will also help you develop a feel and sensitivity through your seat so you know what really pushes his buttons or chills him out. A tense bottom will lead to your horse's back being tense and if you're tense your horse thinks there must be something frightening that you need to run away from and so you will go faster! A deep breath, rolling back and down of the shoulders and relaxing your bottom will make a difference before you even start!

Also, one last thing(!), try to remove/ignore/forget the rushing experiences you have had while schooling previously. If you go in apprehensive then so will your horse. If you can forget the rushing from the previous session, go in with a clear frame of mind and relaxed body it will all help to prevent your horse from becoming nervous and apprehensive. 

I hope this has helped and if you need any more advice please give me a shout.

The Riders Sport Psychologist

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spirit11

Joined:

Oct 11

Posts: 26

spirit11 says:

Re: New horse - issues in arena!

thanks for all the advice, I have quite a few issues to work on I think!  I think a huge part of the problem is me and my mentality and perhaps as he is quite young and a little unschooled/inexperienced, perhaps we arent the best match but he is very safe and exceptionally well behaved on the ground etc... so I definitely see it as something we can work on together! I have read so much about green horses not suiting green riders but I really want it to work with him and I know it is possible.....eventually!

I completely see what you mean about any tension from me affecting him and im sure it doesnt help the situation at all but everyone seems to say he is quite hot, even more experienced riders, so I think that is part of the issue aswell but obv if I was more experienced i could relax more. I really love him though as he is quite chunky and sane but has the ooomph of an arab

Sometimes in a lesson I ride other horses which are more schooled and my position is a lot better (according to my instructor), I think because I feel more confident on them and relaxed. I feel I need to hold his reins shorter to hold him back when trotting/cantering as he doesnt have that nice slow rocking movement, so it pulls me forwards (another issue of mine!) and this must make him more tense...

Unfortunately the trails around here are normally single tracks, no open fields really, just long gallops, so difficult to circle or anything but I know what you mean and I think my position is a lot better on a hack..i think I relax more as there are other things to focus on...not corners, other riders, spectators! lol

I am going to work on spending a lot of time walking with him like you say and just getting to know him better and what makes him tick, its hard in a lesson environment so will do this on my own.

Basically, I think I have quite a few issues to work on! Thanks so again much for the advice

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lauralou15

Joined:

Apr 10

Posts: 449

lauralou15 says:

Re: New horse - issues in arena!

do you have lessons in a group or on your own? if you are in a group maybe invest in some lessons that is just you and your horse...

you say you ride other horses occasionally..does this mean other people ride your horse as well? I know it's the wrong thing to say as it's sort of giving up but maybe someone with a little more experience could start him off in the school and just get him a bit more supple etc for you before you take over?

now don't get me wrong I'm not suggesting leaving all his learning curve up to someone else I'm just saying if he had a little more knowledge of what is expected of him from someone with a little more confidence than yourself then you would feel more confident with it and so then you could both continue to learn together and you would both feel better...all I'm talking is maybe 2 or 3 lessons nothing extensive.

Or if you don't want to do that get another rider who is quite experienced this may or may not be your instructor (sometimes I find instructors are good at teachhing but out of practice actually riding) to stand with you in the school and go through exactly what they would do with the horse and how then your doing the work and getting to know the horse and hes getting to know you and you will grow your confidence.

Hope you find something that suits you both good luck :)

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