My daughter has a 19 year old mare that looks really healthy and doesn’t even look 19 but seems to be having some issues. When she tries to canter the horse speeds up but doesn’t want to push into the canter or she will buck. If my daughter gets her into a canter she says it does not feel right at times and she suspects that maybe her arthritis is getting too bad. We didn’t start noticing the arthritis till a few months ago and she is now on joint supplements. My daughter is concerned and doesn’t want to force her into something that is going to hurt her and is wondering if maybe it is just attitude since she is very spunky. Do you have any advice?
Arthritis that shows up as a reluctance to strike off at the canter or lope or canter roughly or buck during the transition usually stems from wear and tear of the hind limb (most notably the stifle and hock) and the loin.
As you suggest, these behaviors can also be a result of a feisty or disobedient horse, but since you already know the mare has arthritis, in this case, you should focus on that.
You don’t say whether the joint supplements are helping – and what kind you are using.
As far as use – be sure the mare is thoroughly warmed up with walking and trotting before asking her to canter. Many horses warm out of their arthritis stiffness after 5-15 minutes of low level work.
Focus also on transition work which is any upward or downward shifting of gears. The more proficient your daughter is at other transitions, the better the canter depart will be.
Finally, be sure the mare is being ridden with enough collection so that she CAN canter rather than rush forward at the trot.
Refer to 101 Arena Exercises to help develop the things I’ve mentioned both in the horse and the rider.