Teaching a Horse to Canter
I have a 9-year-old horse who is ridden by my 10-year-old child. The horse is fine when walking and trotting, but he bucks when you ask him to canter. Is it because he was born to hate the canter, or is he just a really stubborn horse?
This is a tough one to answer without being able to observe the behavior, Pat. Bucking can occur for several reasons, including discomfort, aggression and joy. I suggest you observe his behavior when he is given the cue to canter. Does he pin his ears back, or does he perk his ears forward? Does he need a lot of encouragement to transition into the canter, or does he quickly pick up the gait as soon as he is cued?
If he is slow to transition and tends to pin his ears back, I would check with your veterinarian to be sure he is physically healthy, with a focus on his legs, his back and the fit of the saddle. If he quickly picks up the gait and perks his ears forward, I would lean toward the assumption that the canter, to him, is simply fun! You can decrease the likelihood that he will buck by quickly "whoa-ing" to a walk when he bucks, and then allowing him to canter several strides when he picks up the gait without a buck.