Canter balance

Nikiwink
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Canter balance

Postby Nikiwink » Sat Jan 20, 2018 12:48 pm

Can consistently counter cantering both leads be a sign of sacro issues? Or something else besides balance/strength?

Mid last year i was given by a great friend a very cute little buckskin 6yo tb x qh. He's very very green (ie I've started him myself and we've had only 5 or 6 rides) but mostly a real dude and been a lot of fun so far.

His canter tho is all over the shop. Working in hand/lunging he's gone from having only right canter to then countering to the left and then changing (prob 50% of the time only in front) after a stride to disuniting left to today consistently cantering normally (and fairly calmly/balanced) but on the wrong lead both reins.

Thanks

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StraightForward
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Re: Canter balance

Postby StraightForward » Sat Jan 20, 2018 3:26 pm

Well, we need pics of this new subject. :)

It might not hurt to get him checked out and adjusted if you have access to a good person. However, this just sounds like normal green horse stuff/weakness to me. As you get more into riding him, he might be a horse that you want to work in walk and trot for a significant amount of time to teach him proper bending and body control before asking for canter.

My last horse was an appy that could barely even canter in the field when I got her as a 3-year old. I had to do a lot of systematic lunging to get her to the point that she could canter on both leads, as in, 6 days a week, I'd trundle out and make her canter both directions, and at first I had to keep the line fairly short and keep up a trot myself to circle her large enough that she could manage the canter. Lots of T/C transitions, even if not the correct lead, helped strengthen her to where she could manage it.

Luckily she was a born trail horse, so once she was broke enough, I took her out 2x a week and cantered on the trails to build her fitness. Also, jumping small grids did wonders for her (trot in, canter out).

My current green project is going through this too but luckily is a little more athletic than the appy. Coincidentally, she's also a QH/TB like your guy - when I got her, there was no right lead canter, and she'd often swap in back going to the left. Then I taught her to be more balanced, and she started to find right lead, which is her hollow side, to be easier. On the left, she falls to the inside, so when asked for proper left canter with the shoulders up, she gets rather stressed and offers the right lead, but it is getting better. FWIW, she has needed some physio work, but she had a history of some, I'd say some inconsiderate training before I bought her, rather than being a clean slate like your fellow.
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musical comedy
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Re: Canter balance

Postby musical comedy » Sat Jan 20, 2018 3:30 pm

It could be several things. Stifle would be my first thought. If I had a horse doing this, I wouldn't try to diagnose it myself nor wait it out thinking it would resolve. I'd have a good sport horse vet look at it.

StraightForward, I'd have a vet (not a chiro) look at your horse too.

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StraightForward
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Re: Canter balance

Postby StraightForward » Sat Jan 20, 2018 5:37 pm

musical comedy wrote:StraightForward, I'd have a vet (not a chiro) look at your horse too.


FWIW, I had a vet check my appy a couple times when I was starting her, and she never found any problems above the asymmetries that an unridden horse would develop based on their movement preferences. That vet did chiro, acupuncture and bodywork, but unfortunately has moved out of the area.

I've had current horse getting monthly bodywork and she improves steadily with that and my training program, so I don't see a reason to involve a vet unless she stops improving. We cantered both directions in our lesson yesterday, and the instructor's assessment was also that it was young horse weakness.
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Nikiwink
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Re: Canter balance

Postby Nikiwink » Sun Jan 21, 2018 2:39 am

Thanks for the replies.

I have had him looked over by several therapy specialists and a vet friend did a basic check for me. There are a few "red flags" for possible sacro issues (what makes you think stifle please musical comedy?) but nothing obvious and no pain responses except the unbalanced cantering (and they are all lessening which is making us think its training related). I have been advised by all to work him and see how he goes. He is quite straight behind and inclined to have long hind toes. He hadn't had his feet done in 18-24mths or so when i got him so that was the first focus and they are now much better (along with teeth, massage, feeding up, vaccs, worming etc lol). I also don't have a great surface for him to work on which doesn't help (currently working in open sand based paddocks). i haven't bothered cantering undersaddle unless he falls into it so far its all been in hand work. I have just never had a horse whos canter is quite like this before.

Here's the requested pics :)

Sorry this is the best confo pic i could find.
Image

Image

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Ride 2 i think
Image

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Re: Canter balance

Postby musical comedy » Sun Jan 21, 2018 10:28 am

Nikiwink wrote:I have had him looked over by several therapy specialists and a vet friend did a basic check for me. There are a few "red flags" for possible sacro issues (what makes you think stifle please musical comedy?) but nothing obvious and no pain responses except the unbalanced cantering (and they are all lessening which is making us think its training related). I have been advised by all to work him and see how he goes. He is quite straight behind and inclined to have long hind toes. <respectfully snipped>.

Nikiwink, I base my opinions on past personal experience and that of others, discussing things with my very good sporthorse vet, reading vet articles, etc. Stifle problems seem to be the reason for most canter issues rather than hocks or sacrum. I'm not denying that young horses, especially with initial poor training, can be undeveloped on one side causing them to not want to bend and canter on the correct lead. I also understand why thorough PPE's aren't done on very inexpensive or gift horses. However, any horse I bring in to ride I would have flexion tests performed by a good vet. Some consider it overkill I'm sure, but I have my vet do flexions on my horses several times a year just to stay on top of things. Since your new horse has been vet checked, then it probably is training related. Your horse is obviously very green. If it were me, I'd stay with the trot until you can get him bending on both sides evenly. I don't like to canter a horse until it is reliably on the bit, but I know that's a minority opinion.

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StraightForward
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Re: Canter balance

Postby StraightForward » Sun Jan 21, 2018 4:10 pm

Cute horse! He looks a little downhill, which probably makes the canter a little harder as well. However, from the trot pic, it looks like he'll be able to come under and develop a more level/uphill balance with training, which makes the canter easier.

I also notice that he is standing under himself a bit in front - if this is his usual stance, he may have some heel pain, which is consistent with your description of his lack of hoof care, and should resolve once his trim is balanced.

What were the "red flags" for SI issues? Is he even/level when viewed from behind?
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Re: Canter balance

Postby Chisamba » Sun Jan 21, 2018 6:50 pm

canter is not a natural gait, its is a trained tempo . in nature horses walk, trot and gallop. in nature horses mostly counterbend, and lean when running. i have started upward of a hundred horses, and i would guess that about eighty percent of them did not canter on the correct lead until they had the training and learned to adjust their balance. None of them had any issue that needed vet attention. now, having said that, I am talking about horses that spent most of the first few years of their life in large pastures in big herds, and were not stabled, longed, or even led around that much. Horses that are raised to be sport horses, and have work, longing, even in hand work, if the horse consistently offers cross canter or counter balance, i would have a basic soundness evaluation done before pushing them to rule out pain. Some people are pretty good at evaluating movement with the eye, and others need help.

if the horse has already been evaluated for issues , then you may go ahead and address the stiffness and lack of balance with training.

Nikiwink
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Re: Canter balance

Postby Nikiwink » Wed Jan 24, 2018 1:27 am

Thanks Musical Comedy. I was curious as my experience with similar symptoms have all led to sacro (and the odd hock) issue vs stifle.

Thanks StraightForward - yep he's a cutie and yep definitely downhill though he does move like the picture majority of the time. No its not his normal stance in front - he was just eating out of the blue tub in front of him. He initially did tend to stand under himself behind though thats improved with the trims/muscle work. Yes hes level in movment and muscling. Mostly related to how he is quite onesided and that he has big opinions on how his back feet should be handled/held/positioned. Again seems to be improving fairly quickly so suspect its more a training issue.

Chisamba - i think you are right in regards to this horse - canter is not natural for him. I suspect he may be a bit too smart too. Hes the second horse ive had that i had to teach different signals for each lead and i have to be very specific in regards to when i ask for canter. After last nights session i suspect that is more influential than i thought. Hes always been light and reactive but last night i really focused on my timing and asking off a slight leg yield out etc and i had much more success with his leads.


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