Cantering problem! - Page 2

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Cantering problem!

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        01-07-2013, 02:26 AM
    Originally Posted by Sharpie    
    I don't know if this is helpful, but my guy has a trot that it hard for me to sit, and I also have more trouble sitting the trot with stirrups, so maybe it might be applicable: I only try to sit a couple of strides before cueing the canter, and I do it by supporting with my reins as necessary for the corner, usually keeping a nice little bend, but not dropping the inside rein as my guy will collapse to the inside.

    Then I drop my outside leg back just a couple inches while keeping my inside leg in place and supporting, and squeeze with the outside leg- I visualize that I am 'picking up' his hind end with that outside heel, which in my mind/imagination gives him the 'space' to bring his hind end up to start the canter.

    I can only do that for a stride or two though, and either by then he's cantering or he's doing an unbalanced trot that needs to be brought back before I can ask again anyway. If he doesn't transition properly the first time, that "squeeze" with the legs is going to be more of a solid heel thump the next time and backed up by a swift smack after that since my guy KNOWS what I am asking and isn't allowed to ignore it.
    This! Even though I mostly ride western, if I am going from a working trot to a canter, I will post the trot and as I am posting, count on the down-post "one, two, three" and then sit deep (exhale and relax your butt muscles!) and ask with my outside leg. Just a note that I kind of think of: relaxing and sitting deep [as if you are about to ask him to whoa] makes your horse pause and wonder, are we stopping? Allowing him to gather himself kind of like a half-halt. It also allows you to sit into that bouncy working trot just long enough for him to pick up his canter. Your leg cue, however, then says "nope, we're changing gait!" and your horse is ready to respond.

    If your horse doesn't automatically pick up the right lead it is also helpful to "sponge squeeze" your outside rein without taking rein away from him-- just a reminder to pick up the correct lead.

    If he doesn't pick up a canter in a few strides (you can feel him if he's preparing for it versus ignoring you and speeding up), I tell myself to relax and use my posting (slow him down by posting just "behind" his beat to the one that you want) to bring him down to a more balanced working trot. Make sure that you're posting up and not forward, by the way, if that makes sense... you don't want to be leaning forward and asking him to balance out at the same time.

    I'm not exactly a super duper professional rider, but this is what I find to work for me! :)
    Chokolate likes this.
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        01-07-2013, 04:01 AM
    Thanks, you guys are so helpful!

    Existentialpony, I never thought of it that way before. So I need to be more relaxed about the whole thing, as far as I can see!
        01-07-2013, 03:26 PM
    I think the answer is pretty simple, the horse can't pick up the canter nicely if you are posting so the same goes with bouncing around at the sitting trot. Horses are capable of picking up the canter from a walk, or even from a halt. When you ask for the canter don't let him trot fast at all which will just make you bounce around. When you ask for the canter slide your outside leg back(not to far- or it will pitch you off balance) don't lean forward, and lift with your inside leg.

    -If you try picking up the canter and he trots to fast for you to sit, bring him back to a normal-slow trot and ask for the canter again.
    Chokolate likes this.
        01-07-2013, 04:57 PM
    Make sure you aren't pinching with your knee when your leg goes back. That's also a common problem! And try not to throw away your supporting outside rein. Without it, the horse has to run into the next transition, instead of smoothly change over.

    Avoid the chicken wings.. that's my biggest problem!
    Chokolate likes this.
        01-07-2013, 06:14 PM
    Milking Moo Moos (you have the cutest name ever!) I think the problem does lie quite a bit in the bouncing and Pita's trot is very choppy when it gets quick, so I'll try a slower trot which is much easier to sit too.

    Sky, is pinching with your knee where your leg turns and your knee braces against the saddle? If so, having thought about it, I probably do that, so I'll think about avoiding it next time. Pita likes to be ridden with a fairly firm contact so I don't think the outside rein support should be too much of an issue, but that's definitely something to look at too! Chicken that where your arms stick out?
        01-07-2013, 06:37 PM
    Originally Posted by Chokolate    
    Sky, is pinching with your knee where your leg turns and your knee braces against the saddle? If so, having thought about it, I probably do that, so I'll think about avoiding it next time. Pita likes to be ridden with a fairly firm contact so I don't think the outside rein support should be too much of an issue, but that's definitely something to look at too! Chicken that where your arms stick out?
    Chicken wings, where your elbows are not inline with your hips, they're kind of sticking out like you're about to roost yourself a nest or do the chicken-dance. Any kind of pressing of your knee is considered pinching. Even if you don't do it with both. What that's telling me is you either lean when you push your leg back or you feel unbalanced. That's what I can surmise solely from being in this perspective over the internet.

    Maybe you need more leg. I know my legs are weak so I have to try a little harder to get the transition.
    Chokolate likes this.
        01-08-2013, 01:57 PM
    I've had similar problems before, especially on lesson horses I don't ride often or I'm nervous about (I admittedly play favourites sometimes :3). I'm by no means a pro and you've gotten a ton of really great advice so far, but I've learned some new things lately between reading and switching barns to a new trainer.

    As I've been taught with my new trainer, it helps to practice the sitting trot by initially slowing the trot down. Still keeping enough leg on to make sure the horse doesn't break to a walk, but not trying to sit to a full working trot. Deep breaths and remembering to slowly exhale taught me to learn to sink into the tack. After that, I learned to feel how my own hips were moved by the action of the trotting. I sat the trot and while I was going around the ring my instructor asked me to say out loud which of my hips felt like it was being moved forward with the trot. Thinking about that while doing my breathing exercises seemed to help me not tense because I began to imagine that my seat was just another part of the horse and it helped me not to bounce up.

    Then, as you go into the transition you want to maintain that same feeling (as everyone else has wisely suggested already!) while giving clear, concise aids. When I was first learning to canter I had a few bad habits. First, my leg aids were not clear and I would get that running trot as well. This was also made worse by leaning too far forward, which made the transition awkward (if it happened at all) because I was too ahead of the horse's centre of gravity. When I stopped leaning I then developed a poor habit of hanging on the reins too tightly, so even if I was giving the correct leg aid my hands were staying "no". In confusion, I would tend to get the running trot again as the poor horse was confused and trying to reconcile the fact that my legs were on and telling him to move. When in doubt, slide your hands up and grab a little mane. I'm not sure about the horse you ride, but the one I learned to canter on my first few times was a big percheron who had a tendency to really throw himself into the first canter stride and do a bit of a rocking horse effect. Grabbing his mane a bit up the neck helped me steady myself (because I didn't have as strong a leg or as much of an independent seat as I do now) without accidentally catching his mouth or giving awkward signals.

    As for the leg aid itself I tend to think of my legs as controlling different things. I use my outside leg behind the girth to tell him to canter, but my inside leg giving a squeeze like it's the gas pedal and telling him to move forward. On a corner it helps help you to pick up the correct lead as well, getting the little bend in there. The slide of your outside leg back doesn't have to be a very big move. It shouldn't slide so far back as to upset your balance. The horses I've lessoned on most also tend to be a bit lazy at times, so sometimes the leg aids need to be reinforced with a little tap of the stick behind the saddle to get them moving (or keep them from breaking around the gate or other areas where some of the other students might have let that happen).

    My old trainer liked to teach canter transitions out of half seat/two-point, so I'm as new to sitting the trot and then cantering as you are. I'm used to getting into two-point and giving the signal and then either sinking mid-stride or working in a hand gallop. That of course isn't very proper from an equitation standpoint, but he was more concerned with our learning the motion and the fact that a solid two-point wouldn't end up with our getting bounced off at the beginning. We worked more on other things once a canter motion made sense. I don't know if this helps at all or has been redundant with the other great responses, but the point I wanted to mention the most was what your hands were doing. Sometimes when you're bouncing in a sitting trot or getting a running trot when you ask makes you forget about your hands (I know I did all the time!) and my old trainer would constantly nag me about letting go of the horse's head so he could move and that really made all the difference in learning. Grabbing mane at first is good, but eventually as you get your balance your hand will just follow the mouth naturally and be elastic.
    tinyliny and Chokolate like this.
        01-09-2013, 12:46 AM
    You have received a lot of really helpful suggestions so Ill just add one thing.

    A lot of school horses actually learn to respond to voice commands. Possibly saying Canter out loud will help at the beginning

    Good luck and let us know how its going
        01-09-2013, 02:17 AM
    Thanks everyone! I've got so much helpful stuff in these two pages I'm going to keep coming back to them again and again and again.

    Sky, thanks for the clarification! I see what you mean with the leg and chicken wings - that's probably what's causing the unbalancedness. I may need more leg; it can be hard to tell how much to use on Pita as he sometimes responds to a squeeze and sometimes needs a harder cue!

    Sairys, if I could I would like this 100000 times! Great ideas - I'm definitely going to use the slower sitting trot and try for clearer aids. I think Pita gets confused too! I've only just mastered having my hands working independently, so why not move onto the legs? I find it hard to get them moving independently and not as a unit but I will absolutely give it a go. The visual helped a lot, thankyou.

    Back again, yes, the horses do respond to some voice commands, so I'll add a 'canter' when I give the cue, thanks!

    Again, all the great advice on this thread has been brilliant. Thankyou to everyone!

    Saturday is also expected to be very hot so riding may be cancelled as the horses can't work with no shade in that heat. I hope it's cooler than predicted :(.

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