Circles/turning at the canter is hard!
 
 

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Circles/turning at the canter is hard!

This is a discussion on Circles/turning at the canter is hard! within the English Riding forums, part of the Riding Horses category

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    • 1 Post By TXhorseman
    • 1 Post By BlueSpark

     
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        06-16-2014, 09:30 PM
      #1
    Foal
    Circles/turning at the canter is hard!

    Hi everyone! I've got a problem while cantering. The horse I'm on now has a lovely, smooth and forward canter and will go without much force. She's an amazing mare, and listens to me well. My instructor thinks we're a good pair, so much so that she wants me to ride her in an upcoming dressage show, 3 weeks away.
    Right now, I'm going to be riding in the walk-trot test, but I have a few more lessons until I decide. My instructor wants me to do Training level, where there's a canter circle in the middle of the arena. The last time we did one in lessons, I bounced like crazy, lost my balance, and the circle was more so a round blob. It was not pretty.
    My seat is good while cantering in strait lines. If I bounce, I relax and grab the mane, and get my rhythm back within seconds. Whenever I circle, even in corners, I start bouncing. My strategy is to put more weight in my stirrups, and lean a little to the inside.
    Does anyone have any clue why I'm bouncing, and how I can stop it? I really want to show Training level, but will walk-trot unless my circles are better.
    Thanks!
         
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        06-16-2014, 10:03 PM
      #2
    Super Moderator
    Bouncing pretty much comes from being unable to absorb the movment in your hips and lower back, and that means stiffness there. Can be a lot of reasons for that. I have some issues with it becuase I have back pain, so I end up really locking up my core muscles and lower back.

    However, if you were to post a video of you w/t/c we could give it a look see.
         
        06-16-2014, 10:52 PM
      #3
    Green Broke
    A video or even pictures would definitely be helpful.

    What are your legs doing during this? And your shoulders? You could need to sit up straighter, and sink into your heels more.
         
        06-16-2014, 11:25 PM
      #4
    sea
    Foal
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by tinyliny    
    bouncing pretty much comes from being unable to absorb the movment in your hips and lower back, and that means stiffness there. Can be a lot of reasons for that. I have some issues with it becuase I have back pain, so I end up really locking up my core muscles and lower back.
    Ditto this. I have an old lower back injury and I have to consciously try to keep myself supple when doing circles at the canter. (And then wind up with back pain for a couple days after >:(.) Otherwise I find myself bouncing as I stiffen.

    I don't recommend throwing your weight to the inside in a turn, though, as you will unbalance your horse.
         
        06-17-2014, 08:04 AM
      #5
    Weanling
    "My seat is good while cantering in strait lines. If I bounce, I relax and grab the mane, and get my rhythm back within seconds. Whenever I circle, even in corners, I start bouncing. My strategy is to put more weight in my stirrups, and lean a little to the inside.
    Does anyone have any clue why I'm bouncing, and how I can stop it? I really want to show Training level, but will walk-trot unless my circles are better."


    Most riders find riding circles harder than riding straight lines. I think the major reason for this is that they try to hard.

    Part of the problem may stem from the horse if she is not as strong and flexible in the hindquarters as she should be. A center of gravity too far forward could also add to the problem. These things would take some time to change, so lets consider the rider.

    As you realize from what you write about your experience cantering in straight lines, relaxation is very important. The movement of your body in a canter should be a flowing motion. Think of a boat facing rolling swells in an ocean. The boat glides down one swell, flows through the trough, and slides up the next swell until the motion begins again.

    You are probably becoming more tense as you try to get your horse to turn. If both you and your horse are relaxed (read “not stressed” as opposed to “lazy”), turning should be as easy as when walking with a friend with your arm around her shoulder. You turn, and she turns with you without either of you giving it much thought. To do this when riding, bring you outside leg back – maybe an inch and keeping the heel down – and rotate your whole upper body in the direction of the turn. Look about a sixth of the circumference ahead with the eyes in your head and imaginary eyes in your chest. Let your arms and hands simply move with your shoulders. Don’t overemphasize any part of your body. Both legs should be draped softly around the horse. The outside leg guides the turn and helps prevent the hind end from swinging outward. The inside leg provides the horse something to bend her body around. Many things will happen if you do this. Don’t dwell on them; simply let them happen.

    Try this technique at a walk first when you and your horse are more likely to be relaxed. If you have problems at a walk, let me know and I’ll give you some things to try. If everything goes smoothly, try the same technique in a trot and canter.

    Don’t lean in a turn. Just keep your body in line with the horse’s body. The horse knows how to turn itself. If you lean, the horse must also worry about adjusting its motion to compensate for this shift in the overall center of gravity.

    While standing in the stirrups may help with bouncing, it raises your center of gravity. It also causes the muscles in your legs to tighten which may bring about a tightening in the muscles of your horse as well. The more you can relax, the more likely your horse will relax.

    I was once riding Lusitano stallions in Portugal. Towards the end of the lessons, the riders would individually canter circles around the instructor. On my last ride, I fell into the rhythm of my horse as I had never done before. Our movements were one. Suddenly, the instructor yelled: “Stop!” The horse and I came instantly to a halt. “That was rather abrupt,” I said. The instructor replied, “That was the third time I told you.” I had not heard the other times. I had been in another world. That is the type of riding I strive for.
    Corporal likes this.
         
        06-17-2014, 08:35 AM
      #6
    Foal
    Wow. Didnt expect so many thorough replies! Im on mobile so ill try and post videos and reply later.
    Posted via Mobile Device
         
        06-17-2014, 10:55 AM
      #7
    Started
    Why don't you try stirrup less, on a lunge line? Then you could focus 100% on your seat, doing the thing you find the hardest, circles. I've had multiple ankle injuries, so I've spent a good portion of the last 10 years riding stirrup less, often on hot arabs, big moving draft crosses and ottb's. I've gained a great seat from doing so much no stirrup work at all speeds.
    Corporal likes this.
         
        06-17-2014, 11:01 AM
      #8
    Trained
    Riding the walk without stirrups will teach you MORE about following the horse's movement at the canter than a season of cantering on the track will. Ditto Blue Spark's comments.
         
        06-19-2014, 07:20 AM
      #9
    Foal
    Alrighty, so I had my lesson last night. We didn't canter much because my mount was being spooky near one end of the arena, and was giving me lots of sass while trying to ride. We got a good few circles and laps at the canter, and I made a good effort to stay upright, and not lean, and keep my seatbones glued to the saddle. I did it! The circles weren't very perfect, but I didn't bounce! With more practice, I think I'll be able to do it effortlessly. Thanks everyone for your help. You all gave me really good tips!
         
        06-19-2014, 07:29 AM
      #10
    Weanling
    I'm happy to hear things are improving. Old habits are hard to break and new ones take time to develop. Keep practicing.

    Trying to hard to keep your seat bones glued to the saddle may prove counterproductive. In the canter, try to relax and follow the movements of your horse. This should be a flowing motion much like that of a boat facing ocean swells. The boat rises on one swell, slides down the other side, flows through the trough and glides up the next swell before it rolls over the top and the process repeats itself.

    At the same time your legs are following the motion of your horse's back, your hands should be following the motion of your horse's head.
         

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