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L*raNSpeedy said: I have a client with a Friesian cross Arab. But he is really very Friesian ish - more than the Arab - the Arab in him really just refines him and gives him more back and stretch than the two Friesians I have trained. He is a lot lighter to ride but if you see him canter the pasture - he is as majestic as an pure Friesian. He is 5 and the prior trainer had charged a lot but ridden almost not at all. I have been riding him and he has a solid walk, trot, stretch up through the back - he loves to stretch down - he is so uphill - at first when I trotted him it was like he was two horses - Friesian high step shuffle which was so uncmfortable and then lift through the back and stretch and up came the Arab and his gait was much more comfortable. So the goal was consistent pace there which he has - though with temps in the upper 80s and low 90s - he dies after 20 minutes of work. The canter is a challenge - on the lunge - he really has the look of a horse that says "I do not know this gait" and he runs into it - finds it - it looks majestic like a knight should be on him but WOW uncomfortable and certainly not correct. I ask him to slow and relax - he will for a millisecond - I see a GLIMPSE of the canter we're searching for and he instantly down transitions. It has been 2 months - and usually I find if I find that good canter for a millisecond each time - I get eventually 2 milliseconds and then 3 milliseconds and so on. He has not warmed up to this. Anyone know what I can do here? He is extremely well bred on both sides - beautiful and fancy and great now in lateral work at the trot. Just light yielding - spiral circles and some shoulder fore but its only been 2 months.
R*verOaksFarm said: The canter is a challenge - on the lunge - he really has the look of a horse that says "I do not know this gait" and he runs into it - finds it - it looks majestic like a knight should be on him but WOW uncomfortable and certainly not correct. I ask him to slow and relax - he will for a millisecond - I see a GLIMPSE of the canter we're searching for and he instantly down transitions. He may not be balanced enough to canter on the lunge....? Can you find a big field, or trails? I have Friesian crosses (Friesian Sporthorses specifically) and I've never encountered this problem with them, but as a teenager I once bought a Belgian draft horse which had been trained to plow but not to ride or canter. He ended up figuring out how to canter out on the trails, at the time it was pretty much the only place to find enough "room" for him. He ended up sorting it all out enough that he was scoring mid 60's at First Level at recognized shows, before I had to quit riding him due to injury. Good luck :)
C*llaway said: Take him on a trail ride and canter him up a hill.
L*raNSpeedy said: This is how I trained my WB who was like cantering two horses - a front horse and a rear horse. This horse is not like that but I will do it - I made my round pen larger than a regular one because of my WB so he can find a canter when he was young. I thought it was a Friesian thing because he really brings his front legs way up and pushes through the hind like the real showy Friesians do- but as I watch him I note that it seems as mental as it is physical. He is a little hot which is the Arab in him. My Friesian I had 15 years ago moved a bit like this but he was so relaxed mentally that I could ask him to engage and work right pretty easily. I did train a horse imported from Holland that had been a carriage horse. He was a bit of a pain to train to canter correctly but the owner did not want to go far and only wanted mainly recreational riding.
D*nella said: I know exactly what you are talking about. I have ridden/trained three of them and all have weak canters. My mare was so weak that she also could not canter on the lunge for the life of her..now she never scores less than an 8 for gaits and can do good counter canter, canter shoulder in ect. What you need to do is just ride him forward in a big canter ....forward enough to get his hind legs a bit under him. It helps if you can ride him lower in the neck too too so he can get his back up a bit and moving. Once you have built up enough strength for him to carry himself in an on the forehand canter for at least three or four laps around the arena, start asking him to come back...but just for one stride or so. And then forward big time again. You need to make him quick enough off the leg that you can bring him back and send him forward right away. Then just build on more strides coming back. It IS alot of work, neither breed is built to carry or is selected for their canter. So it will take time. Good luck!
L*bera said: Usually the easiest way is to teach them to do walk-canter transition.
S*bine said: Reading your description reminds me when I started with my Friesian Cross. I would say that River Oaks is totally correct- for increasing the fitness and teaching them how to canter- a country gallop every day for 10 minutes is IDEAL. Also patient proper trot work will build the condition and the strength in the rear to do the canter eventually. But trying to slow down the canter at this stage is totally premature- he just can't do it yet.....and that's noone's fault other than that the horse should have been properly worked by the previous trainer and since this time was lost- you are kind of starting from the very beginning. But after about 4-6 months - you should be in good shape if you follow the regiment.
D*nella said: Also patient proper trot work will build the condition and the strength in the rear to do the canter eventually I have to disagree. The problem Friesians have is the loading phase in the canter where the one hind leg momentarily carries the horse. That never happens in trot (and there are very, very few people who can develope the trot work on a friesian good enough to get it on the hindlegs anyways). The only way a horse developes carrying power in the canter (which is the whole problem here) is to canter. Friesians are probably a different cup of tea than the crosses.
H*mpton Bay said: I'm going to go with Donella. I have an appendix mare who is heavy in front. She's just built that way. She CAN lighten her forehand, but it takes a lot of strength. For the canter, we canter, collect, then go forward. Work on the w-c has been helpful as well. Since my mare is a hothead, she LOVES to just run around in the canter, so it's a fine line between going forward with the ability to come back, and going forward to run around like a mad woman. Lots of walk breaks will be necessary to not wear him out too much. With her, I tend to work one day on mostly trot work, and the next on strengthening the canter. She's working 2nd level, and she just tires in this heat when she's working that hard.
M*r4ward said: Patience, patience, patience. My full-blooded Friesian is turning 6 next month. I've been fighting to develop both canter leads for the past 2 years. When I got him, he was equally comfortable counter-cantering. I've been told by people more familiar with the breed that a 5 year-old Friesian is a 3 year-old anything else - they're late bloomers. My guy has a VERY nice canter now. He still screws up leads occasionally, but today we had a breakthrough: on a 20 meter circle, he picked up the wrong lead and swapped on his own, with no further input from me! All I can say is it will take a LOT of time. But Friesians are eager students, it just has to be explained in terms they can understand. And that means many, many short sessions that finish as soon as he gets it right (with sugar cubes or carrots as positive reinforcements to follow).
DJD said: My Friesian x Percheron gelding is 5 yrs old and has a horrible canter ... still. I can canter him on the longe line, but it's pretty awful and I keep it very short because it's too tight a circle for him to balance the canter in. When riding, his canter only feels semi-ok when we're on the trail or out in the field and moving well forward. Cantering on a 20m circle is very difficult for him. I'm attributing it to issues with balance, strength, his breeding, and his young age. I'm hopeful that he'll steady up and learn balance with more conditioning, more maturity (including finishing growing!), and more practice.
L*bera said: Don't practice the canter, practice the transition into the canter!
S*bine said: not sure if there is a difference between pure Friesians and Friesian Crosses...but the all out country canter helps build endurance- which is one thing you will need. The Canter itself on my cross was and is huge...it's a good high quality canter that the horse had to get used to managing with a rider on top...there was a part of him that had to mentally digest that. The physical strength has to do with building the right muscle. Getting the horse to build the right muscle for me was a lot of changes in frame - deep work and trot in all varieties. Because that was a gait that was not in itself making him worried- and he could relax and we could get into the proper working and medium pace without stress. Canter at first was stress...for some reason. I think you will increase the 'ridability' by trotting and you must canter in the country or in a big arena for a while before you'd want to slow the canter or ask for too much complication in the canter- so that the whole thing remains positive and relaxed for him. Drilling anything at this age - is IMO not appropriate.