Question: My horse breaks into the canter from the trot all the time. Why would she do this and how can I keep her in the trot? I ride hunt seat and flat – English. I have tried to bring her back to the trot but she just keeps breaking.
Answer from April Reeves: While you can simply continue to ask the horse to go back to the trot, this will not solve the problem, as you are only compensating for an underlying problem. It’s like taking drugs when your stomach hurts. Just find out what caused the painful stomach!
Several causes could be:
- A painful saddle fit,
- A painful bit (the second you put pressure on the mouth, the horse tries to run through it to avoid the pain),
- The inability to maintain balance and therefore breaking into the canter, as it is easier for her,
- She is speedy and just keeps going until she canters,
- Your aids are confusing,
- You are not riding well enough, causing balance problems and a sore back,
- Or she is unsound.
This is one of those difficult questions to answer correctly without seeing the symptoms. What alerted me to the fact I may not be able to help in an article was your wording “all the time”. Chronic problems have deeper roots.
Whenever you come across a problem like this that has a number of causes, call a local professional for help. It may cost you $50 or so, but the problem needs to be solved quickly for several reasons:
You need to get back to a place where you can ride properly again,
You need to add to your knowledge base to be able to problem solve yourself,
You need to solve the problem before it becomes dangerous.
Here are a few questions to ask yourself:
- Does my saddle fit straight on the horses back? Meaning, when you look at the saddle from behind, does it sit squarely in line with the middle of the horse’s back? Does it sit on the wither (not good)? Does it leave a dry spot after a sweaty ride (not good)?
- Are you using the lightest bit possible, with a soft responsive feeling hand (good) or are you using the bit as main control (not good)?
- Is the horse too much for you to handle and ride comfortably?
- Does the horse run through the bit – when you gently bring pressure to her mouth, does she speed up and push against you?
- Is she speedy for no apparent reason?
- Do you understand correct aids and do you use them correctly all the time?
- How long have you been riding?
- Can you use professional help once in a while to keep up your knowledge?
- Has the vet seen the horse?
There are answers to these questions all over this blog. While they help, they will not replace a qualified human being on the ground to witness the problem. The one-rein stop won’t work if your saddle is pinching.
Some problems are easy to diagnose and some are not, such as this one. Please find someone in your area who can help you.