Z has always been reluctant to canter. Even when she came to me at about 20 months old she didn’t canter much in the pastures, but preferred trotting. It’s interesting that Dear One and Big Guy much preferred cantering over trotting. Some horses just seem to have their preference and Z is clearly partial to trotting.
She is now the 4th Arabian I’ve worked with that has been reluctant to canter. This was an issue with Beautiful Boy but I chalked that up to training inexperience of his former owners and it was overcome through clicker training the reinforcement of the canter depart at liberty in the roundpen. Another Arab came to me for some training, and he was also reluctant to canter when at liberty in the roundpen. Then there is DH’s Arab, R, who she has never cantered in the years she has owned him (there seems to be an injury which inhibits his canter).
I’m not trying to say this is true of all Arabs. Certainly I’ve seen those that take all the gaits and canter beautifully. It is just puzzling and may or may not be linked to the breed.
As she got older that preference became more obvious and it seemed to be even painful for her to canter on one lead. Z’s reluctance to canter is why I scheduled her for many sessions with the chiro before she left for the trainer.
The first two sessions were traumatic for her and me – I ended up standing between her and the chiro so the chiro could bring her arm over mine and do the body mechanics, with me standing in the line of fire. Without me standing there – the only person Z at that time would not attack – I am sure the chiro would have ended up injured.
It was truly amazing to see the difference in her behavior the last time she saw the chiro – she was perfectly calm and okay with being touched all over her body. I’ve also seen that she is less ticklish (especially after coming back from the trainers) and lifts her back legs more easily.
Now I’m ready to advance her training a bit so the other day I started asking for canter at liberty in the roundpen. Oh boy – you would have thought someone asked her to become the bride of an older, ugly man with no money because she did some awesome bucks and kicks and just plain “I do not want to do this!” stubborn behavior. LOL!
Well we worked through all that and cantering will now be part of her regular program. I did some more today at liberty (after lunging but before saddle work) and she was better but still needs a lot of convincing. The best thing though is that I finally saw a NICE canter for about 3-4 strides before she broke down and went into a jolting, on the forehand, trot.
We’ll get there – slow and steady wins the race 😉