Establishing balance and improving an ex-racehorse's canter

Welcome to our new series focussing on retraining ex-racehorses, up every Wednesday!

Last year, Your Horse went to HEROS, a charity who retrain racers. Here we have their tips on establishing balance and improving an ex-racehorse's canter...

“It’s important not to rush reschooling and the urge to work in canter, as you should really concentrate on walk and trot work first,” says Sue.

“You need to establish these two paces as it will make for better transitions to canter at a later date and will help with suppleness and steering.”

When first being re-schooled, some ex-racehorses are unbalanced so remember that certain school movements such as tight circles and shallow serpentines will be harder, so work on the outer track changing the rein on a steady bend across the arena.

Racehorses have learnt to go from a standstill in the stalls to gallop, so re-educating them to steadily trot and go forward to canter takes time.

“Initially, ex-racers tend to rush the trot to strike canter like a youngster,” says Sue.

“Be patient and slow the trot down so they’re balanced, and ask for canter in the corner by giving a definite leg aid.”

When out hacking, it’s advisable not to gallop as it contradicts the retraining process.

“We tend to use walk, trot and then eventually introduce canter on grass, so that they learn it needs to be controlled,” says Sue.

“Its essential that we know what each ex-racehorse can and can't do before rehoming.”