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Re: GO, GO, GO

>Yes, my horse has only high gear BUT, it is 
>high gear in that gait.  So, actually he has a nice walk and only'
>occasionally does the jigging thing, when he trots he trots FAST,
>and when we canter he goes FAST.  Occasionally he will break into
>a run from a trot but is usually easy to pull back down into a 
>trot.  He will get carried away when running and I will NOT let 
>him run full speed.  But, he is a stuggle at the canter.  

When I'm working with a horse that has a tendency to rush in his gaits, I
spend a lot of time on working slowly and bending.  The gaits are harder to
do at a slow speed that has impulsion...kinda like riding a bike slowly and
doing tricks at the same time.  A lot of the rushing has to do with the
rear end not being part of the equation -- and the brain being occasionally
absent as well.  ;-)  Work slowly to start with no fast lunge sessions at
all for a while.  Do lots and lots of transitions...about every 6-10
strides...and concentrate on walk and trot gaits until the transitions are
smooth and *prompt*.  Work him in lots of transitions WITHIN each gait.
This is a good one for when you're riding also, but especially important to
do at the lunge.  Teach him to recognize his abilities within the gaits and
strengthen his ability to do them.  

Do lots of stretches...after he's warmed up, of course.  Help him extend
the length of his strides by stretching his legs on the ground then asking
him to stretch when you're in the saddle.  Put your legs on and off briefly
asking him to go more energetically forward -- but don't hold them on and
ask for the upward transition.  A gentle, long-legged squeeze should be
followed by a squeeze of your outside hand.  The outside hand will contain
the energy you just asked for with the legs so you don't go faster.  Relax
the hand (just go back to your normal hold...don't drop him by throwing the
reins away).  When you get all this coordinated, the horse will bring his
back legs under more, lift his frame, and push off in a larger stride --
he'll get more distance for his strides and for the time.  His speed won't
change but he'll feel like he has a much more "ground covering" stride.

BTW, that was a *half halt* you just did. ;-)  

In the
>arena we are doing about 50' circles at the canter.  Much smaller
>and it feels like he will fall.  

Do the circles as big as you can and concentrate on your body position and
the effect that it's having on his bend.  DO NOT drop your hand below the
withers or drop your shoulder -- the horse will feel as if he's falling
inward if you do this.  Bend his nose a tad to the inside and re-cue the
canter about every half circle...and control your speed with that outside
rein (doing that "half halt" thing again.)  Keep your eyes up and look
about 1/4 the way around the circle.  Give and take with the inside rein to
help his bend.  Basically you're teaching him HOW to canter and that he
*can* do it slowly.  It takes some practice and he'll soon start feeling a
lot more coordinated.  At that time, start making smaller and smaller
concentric circles until he starts to lose the canter, then make them
progressively bigger -- probably about 3 or 4 circles in and then the same
back out.  (This spiral can ultimately culminate with the canter pirouette
when the horse is further along in his gymnastic training.)  Be sure to sit
back...don't lean forward...when you're cantering.  Move your seat around
as if you are POLISHING the seat of the saddle.  Relax your legs.  

Longing he runs full out as well.
>I stopped using the round pen as he never seemed to tire, even
>doing constant direction changes.  

A lunge lesson should be used for training (mind melding) purposes only and
not to wear out the horse.  Besides being hard on his legs to run in all of
those circles, you end up with a horse that has developed good
cardio-vascular reserve, improved muscle tone, and no mind.  Use the lunge
time for warming up slowly, bending and relaxing, and transitions...and
strive to do this with barely a flick of your finger or a vibration on the
lunge line as the cue.  Always progressively minimize the cues you use.
And never allow them to buck, rear, or do any other obnoxious type
behaviors.  That stuff's for the pasture and should never happen in your

  He is a non-spooky
>trail horse who just loves to run.  He runs in the field all the
>time (no tack or anything to bother him) just for the heck of it.

Take him out for a some loooong medium and slow speed workouts when you're 
riding.  Work on your dressage basics.  Keep his mind involved -- the
smarter horses get bored quickly if you're not talking to them quite
regularly.  Give him lots of things to think about all of the time and he
won't be concentrating on just going fast. 

>He flies around with obvious arrogance and does advanced dressage
>movements just for fun.  

Anything they can do at liberty, they can do under saddle...if the rider
can cue correctly and then stay out of the way. ;-)

Good luck. 

Tyee Farm
Marysville, Wa.

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