A New Wrinkle

The weather today is amazing  - sunny and warm, with a refreshing breeze to keep flies down. Doug and I are taking Megan and some of her clients to the Apple Blossom Paint, Appaloosa and Open horse show later, so I squeezed in a ride. (As an aside, we're researching our horse business idea with Megan).
Rogo is going well. I really need to focus on and learn how to warm him up and read his warm up needs on a ride by ride basis. It makes all the difference in the world. As he gets warmed up you can feel him come more underneath himself, bend more nicely and evenly, become more forward, etc. I know, seems self evident, but he hasn't always been this way. This is a great stage of training for us because he's learning to carry himself.
Here's the wrinkle - a couple of times recently he's taken off at a gallop when picking up the left lead canter. Both times I brought him back without incident and continued on, thinking it was a fluke. He's never done this before when working at home in the ring. (He did it routinely at Cheryl's last spring, outside, when he was learning to canter - always coming around the corner to the left and onto a grassy slope. She told me to let him.)
Today when I rode he galloped off every time I transitioned from trot to left canter. It's a little disconcerting to say the least to be on a young, galloping 17+ hand horse, when you'd planned on a canter. I tried to calmly bring him back, and each time I did, but this isn't a good thing. If he's doing this at home what will he do at a show? In an effort to stick with the test I was riding I put him onto the 20m circle where required. Maybe not the smartest move - we went around that circle like barrel racers, leaned way over, sand flying. I'd manage each time to get him down to a reasonable facsimile of a forward working canter (well, maybe a slower hand gallop).
I think I'll take a different approach next time and bring him right back to a trot and insist on a correct canter before we go ahead. Wish I had a teacher right now...
I may be asking too strongly for his stage of training. Maybe he needs a lighter aid now or more warm up. Any thoughts are welcome.


Annette said…
That's a tough one! Jackson used to gallop off on his more difficult lead and my trainer, like yours, told me to let him and that it would get more controlled as he became more balanced. Another trainer suggested I longe him before riding and work on canter transitions on the lead line with voice commands. When he has that down, I can ask with my voice and no leg (at first) and he should, theoretically, make a smoother stress free transition. Of course, he came up lame immediately after that so I haven't had a chance to try it. But its the only thought I could come up with for you...
Anonymous said…
It may be hard for him to balance himself on his harder lead, or perhaps he's a bit sore somewhere. Or maybe it's an issue with his breathing, like Drift was having at the clinic.
Anonymous said…
I usually look at behavior ilke this in two ways. They are either having difficultly finding their balance, or if they are truly bolting it is a pain related issue. Balance will come in time and good riding, pain has to be checked out.

Good luck!
Make sure you're not anticipating his running off and unconsciously "preparing" for it. Easier to say than do :)
Barbara said…
Is he good at a walk to canter transition? This is usually more balanced. If he can do that then I think you just have a balancing on the lead problem. Can you do just a few steps of trot, a few steps of canter... repeat over and over. It can start out ugly but usually smooths out once they figure out they are making a transition quickly. You might want to start out on the other lead.
Hurricanes12 said…
wow, that sounds scary. i've never seen that before, hopefully you fix it! wish i could suggest something :/
Carol said…
Thanks for all the great feedback and ideas everyone. Greatly appreciated. I don't think it's a balance problem, because he's been quite balanced at the canter for a while now (cantering under saddle for over a year) and he can counter canter on both leads. I don't think he was in pain either, because he was fine at walk and trot and we did get a decent canter in the end. There were no pinned ears or signs of pain. He always picks up the correct lead and has never done this, except as I explained in the post - a year ago on a grassy slope. I tried him quickly at the end of the day yesterday and he was lazy (or tired?) as could be - hard to hold into a canter, let alone try to gallop.
I'm going to make sure I'm not anticipating, make sure he is balanced (there was a very muddy spot as soon as he cantered, so maybe he wanted to get through that and lost his balance), and I'm going to try the canter trot canter transitions. I'll try walk canter too. He's just started this, but if he has extra energy it's a good way to stay calm and focus.
Thanks again!
Jeni said…
No idea's here, my mares have no desire to even canter let alone bolt or rush it.

I personally would have done exactly what you did, ride it out and do circles to control the speed. I may have done figure 8's with lead changes..

Hope you get it figured out.
http://risingrainbow.blogspot.com/ said…
I did have a couple of thoughts about Rogo galloping off. Sometimes it is over cueing that causes that but if it's not that I try a couple of things. Every time my horse gets too fast, I go in a small circle. One small enough the horse has to slow down. Then when I get the right speed I go back to the rail, if the horse immediately speeds us I got right back to the small circle. It usually doesn't take long for them to get the idea.
I will say that either of the above two ways I do only with a horse that's been under saddle for a while. I would not do it with a horse just started because it would be too much strain on the legs but seems to me you've been riding Rogo for a while and this shouldn't be a problem.
There's another thing I use with my young horses when I am teaching them their leads. I work in a figure eight made up of two probably twenty meter circles. The point in the middle of the figure eight is my starting point. I lope a circle to the right. Then stop in the middle and maybe lope a circle left then stop in the middle. I mix up which direction I am going so the horse doesn't anticipate, which means sometimes I repeat the same circle over before stopping to go the other way. And sometimes I ride through the stop and make another full circle. This exercise usually gets the horse really listening to the cues and I think part of Rogo galloping off is he is not listening so this could be helpful.
If the horse isn't responsive to that, I do a one rein stop then I lope the horse out of that stop. Same thing here, if the horse speeds up I go straight back to the one rein stop.
Then there is always the method of making them gallop. Just riding it past where it if fun for the horse and it really wants to stop. Taking the "fun" out of galloping can fix a runaway horse.
Faboulista said…
hmmm i wish i could help except i have never rode except once in the romanian countryside. nothing profesional just a normal horse that me and my brother decided to walk around the hills of southern romania.