View Full Version : bucking into canter

27-09-05, 12:42 PM
Hi... I have a four year old anglo mare who I am starting to have a lot of trouble with when cantering. She is generally an easy going horse these days, but she has a bit of history as being very nervous and difficult. Her trot work is now really nice, soft, forward and balanced but when I try and canter her she jacks up and pig roots. I generally keep my leg on until she canters and once she is going she is pretty good although she feels a little unbalanced and finds it hard to keep going. Anyway, I figured the pig rooting was just her way of trying to evade having to canter but I think it has now become a bit of a habit and today she did it worse than usual and she actually bucked me off! Don't know what to do... I've decided she needs to be lunged more at the canter so she gets the hang of that upward transition and I've got someone coming to check her back tomorrow to make sure she isn't sore. Saddle shouldn't be an issue because I had it professionally fitted??? Any other suggestions? Should I stop attempting to canter for awhile until she is more established on the lunge?

27-09-05, 12:58 PM
ok well ther are a few things the pigrooting culd be but as she is four my guess would be that it is just her way of finding her legs and working out how to actually get into canter. are you trying to canter on a circle or around the arena? i wouldnt suggest lunging if she is unbalanced in the canter because she may not be able to find her legs properly on the small circle an dfall over and hurt herself, but it depends on how unbalanced she is and how gud ur surface is. i also hav a four year old mare who is quite established in her work (she can do shoulder in, counter canter, travers etc.)but as we work on collecting her canter to do simple changes she got quite bouncy behind and started bucking etc, which after talking to a few people i found was quite common in young horses to start bucking or pigrooting in canter, however now my mare can do simple chnages very nicely and very rarely bucks, so perhaps ur mare is also going through a stage? anyway they wer just my ideas! so gud luck with her

27-09-05, 01:06 PM
A bit hard without seeing the pair of you, TG, but 99 times out of 100 this problem (not rare, by the way) is caused by a bad trot. Not forward enough, not balanced enough, whatever - but pretty well every time it's the trot, the lack of balance and forwardness, that's the problem.

Try keeping her much better forward in trot - try not to let her run but if she does well at least she's forward - even stay in rising trot for the transition. No half halts, just forward, forward, forward.

Try it on the 20metre circle, and do trot/canter/trot transitions plenty of times - try not to pull on the reins at all, just concentrate on keeping her forward from your leg and lower your weight for the down transition. Most important to not interfere with her head/mouth.

Good luck!! :-)

27-09-05, 01:30 PM
Thanks for the suggestions...I know she is only young but its just a bit frustrating. As far as her balance is concerned, she's actually pretty balanced once she actually is cantering so i don't think lunging can hurt. Its also interesting that out of the arena I do a bit of hill work, etc. and she generally just pops straight into canter! In the arena I used to just push, push until she ran into canter, but recently as she's been getting better I've sat for a few strides, half-halted then asked for canter and she was starting to get some reasonable transitions but only one or two in between the pig rooting. I think your right in that she's just working out where to put her legs and I think I might just do mostly trot work for awhile and maybe some cantering on the lunge too and see how she goes.

27-09-05, 01:39 PM
I agree with ernie. It is usually a forward problem. You say she finds it hard to keep going at the canter which does sound like she is not forward enough. Ensure that she is REALLY repsonsive to you stop go aids at the lower paces before trying the canter again.

Young horses are a bit like riding a bike. It is harder for them to keep their balance on the circle when going slow. Put a bit more impulsion into the equation and the bike becomes much easier to balance. On some larger young horses a 20m crcle is just too tight. Provided you feel she won't run away and you feel confident enough you might want to try taking her into a large paddock or training track and give her plenty of room. The extra space can often encourage the horse to 'open up' and go more forward.

A monkey grip may help you stay on if you wish to try correcting her yourself. Better that you stay on if nothing else rather than teach her she can get you off. If you feel that she has really gotten one over you then please get an experienced rider to solve it. No use getting yourself hurt.

It is usually a young horse thing and they do grow out of it. Have faith!

27-09-05, 01:53 PM
Totally agree on getting her out of the arena, as I said she's heaps better on the road... might just leave the canter for a bit until I'm in a lesson cos I agree I really don't want her to learn she can get people off! I'm usually pretty good at staying on but not today!

27-09-05, 02:10 PM
This is totally different to what everyone else has said but i once knew a horse that did the same thing into the canter. Similarly he was trying to find his legs but he was the type of horse who was weighty (he could sense the riders weight very easily) and the rider was one who sat deeply in the saddle. The rider lifted her wieght a little bit and sat softly and after a while the horse realised it was comfortable and went into the canter easily. The only problem with this (and the rider said this) was to make your seat lighter made you more vulnerable to getting bucked off. Maybe once you fix her bucking problem in a lesson or something you could try this after.

27-09-05, 02:22 PM
Count me in for agreement with Ernie and Twinpines.

When you are riding out, they are usually motoring along and have no problem. In the arena, they are not so self motivated.

It is very easy to make the mistake of 'steadying' the trot when we sit to prepare (if I could have a dollar for every instructor who told me to slow or shorten to prepare.....)
It is very easy to accidently block the momentum with a 'half halt' if the half halt is not yet coming through properly.

If they have not got that self motivated feel, that bit of momentum, then 2 things often happen. You have to kick and kick, which upsets and insults. When they do canter they have to 'thrust' into it, which unbalances and can frighten them.

Rule No. 82 - Falling off is not an option. (Rules 5 to 100 all pertain to not falling off!) :+

27-09-05, 02:38 PM
No, it's not totally different, Horseychick. A very good point to make.

There are so many ways to express the use of the hips in the canter aids, the lightening of the seat to allow the horse to engage and follow through. Sit heavy in the seat and again we will block the forward motion.
Others may explain better.

Especially in the young or green horse the back end has to be free to move. A lot of the early canter work should be done in a lightly forward seat. (Presuming rule No 82 is adhered to!)

28-09-05, 12:54 AM
I don't think lunging would hurt. your horse will develop her own balance, and also learn the voice aids which can be helpful when teaching them the aids under saddle in the early stages. Lots of transitions, perhaps use 2 lunge reins so you can control the outside rein and keep her on a large circle. Be careful not to let her drop her shoulder and fall in, that doesnt help her balance, and is incorrect.

28-09-05, 01:18 AM
I second what has been written thus far and will add, can you perhaps get your instructor (or someone else you really trust) to have a ride and see what happens?

You could also start asking your horse for a bit faster trot and reward when she responds. Keep repeating until you get the canter and then reward her for the 'try'.

Lot's of baby steps with lot's of reward - make it really obvious (you can refine later). Seems she needs more incentive (some horses do).

Let us know how you go?

28-09-05, 11:57 AM
Thanks for all the response... I have had other people ride her, including a good friend who is a great rider and she too had the pig rooting problem. I think yesterday when I came off it was the same problem but she actually put in a decent buck which she hasn't done before then. Today, another friend who is a professional horse masseur (sp?) and a high level dressage rider came out and she felt around and she was definately a bit tight in the hind quarter and hamstrings (worse on the offside). After she manipulated her for a bit I hopped on and she told me to come across the diagonal and then ask for canter in the corner...surprisingly she just popped straight into canter on both reins with no jacking up or pig rooting. I was also be told not to let her get too deep, which I was, before the transition because if her front end is down her back end can come up too easily. She showed me where to give her a rub before I hop on which I will do, as well as making sure I walk her for ten minutes before I trot... plus I'll get her out again in a couple of weeks. Touch wood, things will improve from here on in... Thanks for all your suggestions!!!

28-09-05, 02:18 PM
Something one of the other posters said made me think of something else to remember when asking for the transition. A light seat is good but a better explanation might be that you need to keep the inside hind free to take up the extra weight in the transition. The inside hind is the start of the canter stride. This means you have to give the inside rein quite a lot when they are learning so as not to block the hind leg. Don't be afraid to have her almost flexed to the outside during the transistion to start with, till she gets the idea.

Sounds like you have found the massage thing is helping too, which is good news!

Good Luck!

29-09-05, 02:33 AM
You could also consider getting her stifles checked out by the vet.
Lots of young horses are mildly locky in the stifles, especially if they have cold or heavy blood. Does she ever seem to "leave a leg"? How does she go walking down hills and backing up?
You can improve it with hill work and trotting and cantering in straight lines, and they mostly outgrow it.

29-09-05, 04:07 AM
and alot of locking stifles can be caused by long toes and the horse trying to compensate (things are not always what they seem lol).

29-09-05, 05:12 AM
It sounds a bit like she may not be ready for canter under saddle, although her trot work may be great she may just not be completly ready for the canter. I had this problem before.
Try doing lots of lunge work at the canter and possibly hill work (at the trot under saddle). Once she can do at least 5 or 6 circles on the lunge at the canter quite comfortably she could be ready for it under saddle (this is what I was recomended to do and I found it worked for me).
Hope it all works out.
Good luck.

29-09-05, 09:00 AM
my horse used to buck into the canter and it was simply because his back hurt, all i did was get a good chiropractor out to him and the problem was fixed instantly. You should eliminate pain before you get into all the psychological reasons why she is doing it.

05-10-05, 01:11 AM
my gelding used to buck when i cantered and jumped him and i found out that it WAS the saddle! even though i had it professionally fitted because he was young he was changing shape as he grew and git more muscles. maybe you could get someone to come out and check the saddle again?
Good Luck!

06-10-05, 10:18 AM
Update on my mare... past week have not asked for canter just lots of trot work and I have been asking for more at the trot too - spiralling circles, short steps, etc... as well as doing a lot more sitting trot than I was and she has been going very nicely. I also popped over a few jumps on her to give her something else to do and she seems to enjoy it. Today i wasn't going to canter but she was a bit spooky (due to new alpacas on property) and she shied into canter so I kept her going and she felt good so I decided I would ask for canter on both reins by coming across diagonal and then asking for canter in corner and she just popped into it nicely. Interestingly I lunged her one day and as someone suggested already she might have a tendency to buck on the lunge which she did! She gets a but excited on the lunge and turns into a bit of a bronco.
Horsemadme - I totally agree about the ill-fitting saddle and changing shape...when I got my saddle fitted, he told me that it might need to be altered a bit once she grows and muscles up so I may get it checked again in the near future.

07-10-05, 12:48 AM
Sometimes bucking into the canter is related to how well the horse understands the leg aids. Can the mare calmly execute correct turns on the forehand (that is, obediently moving away from the outside leg, behind the girth urges?) If not, this will solve your problem.