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Controls Of The Horse – Leg Aids

How to Get a “Quiet” Horse to Pick Up the Canter Promptly

Submitted by member: Smackey

I’ve got a 7-year-old Oldenburg that swishes his tail, especially when picking up the canter or doing a lead change, but he can do it around a course too. He has a fairly pleasant and quiet temperament but this seems to be a habit of his. He is a big lazy warmblood that needs to be ridden with spurs most of the time, and I am wondering if there is some leg and/or hand aids I need to adapt or change or develop that will help us to communicate better and perhaps get him to stop swishing his tail so much. Do you have any suggestions?

Answer by Bernie

My guess is because your horse is  admittedly a big lazy warmblood and has to be ridden with spurs most of the time, he is probably a bit dead and behind your leg. Horses like this often bait riders into using their leg and spur constantly. This results in making the horse more dead to your leg and irritating some, which may be your case. Horses must be trained to be lightly responsive to your leg/spur and react instantly.

You can find information on getting your horse in front of your leg in my three part series Fundamentals of Flatwork – Basic, Intermediate, and Advanced. Which should help you train him to respond lightly to your leg aids and result in your having to use less leg and spur for your canter departures and flying changes, thereby irritating him less. I also would suggest not wearing your spur too high, which can unintentionally irritating him. Good luck with this and keep me posted.

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Bernie Traurig

As a Horseman, Bernie is renowned for not only his riding talents but for his teaching and coaching gifts. As a competitor, Bernie has represented the United States Equestrian Team both at home and abroad on many occasions and reached the top of the sport in all 3 of the International Equestrian Olympic disciplines: Show Jumping, Dressage, and Eventing.After amassing 60 years worth of training and riding techniques and experiences with thousands of horses, Bernie is driven to give back to the sport that has given him so much fulfillment and success.

This Post Has 3 Comments
  1. I have an OTTB 5 yr mare that is lazy but super sensitive. I am having trouble picking up the canter. I love the basics and the dull horse videos. We have a nice walk and trot now from the slightest pressure and if she is hesitent, and the cluck doesn’t immediately work, a slight tap of the crop works great and then she is good to the leg again. The canter is a different story. She trots faster and faster. I am wondering if picking up the canter from the walk would be a better option and how much I should get after her to actually pick up the canter. She is perfect on the lunge line, I say canter and she steps into the canter every time, just when I am on her we struggle.

    1. I myself having the same issues. Following. I have been using a dressage whip. Just to help cue. It has helped.

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