How to balance and slow the canter down? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 9 Old 04-26-2011, 12:41 PM Thread Starter
Green Broke
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Question How to balance and slow the canter down?

So I've been working with my trainer all winter at getting my mare more balanced and in more of a self-carriage at the trot. now it's time to start with the canter, but unfortunately her canter is still VERY on the forehand, and I tend to tense up and in an effort to stay off her back I stand up in kind of a cross country pose, which of course I can't do in dressage

In addition to dropping onto the forehand and basically RUNNING, my mare will challenge ANYONE to a game of tug of war and pull you up out of your seat which is always fun LOL I need to get a video of me riding my mare at the canter (maybe tonight I'll ask my trainer to), but here is another video of me riding one of the school horses, a mare named Dixie, at my barn. I rode her just to work on my own form, without having my mare running and pulling me over her head. But you can see some of the bad habits I've already taught myself, like being too rigid with my upper body.

Any tips on how to get more relaxed with my mare who runs and braces against the bit, pulling her head down?

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post #2 of 9 Old 04-26-2011, 12:58 PM
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What a nice school horse! I am a little confused because are you asking to get feedback for a dressage canter or a hunter canter? I mean, becuase you are a hunter rider, and when you canter it looks like you are in two point. Actually, it looks like you are continually riding uphill. I think that is becuase of the forward lean. But isnt' that normal for hunt seat?

Anyway, if you are looking to canter in a more dressage way, you would drop your stirrups two holes , put your butt IN the saddle and sit up. Hope I am not off base here.
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post #3 of 9 Old 04-26-2011, 01:05 PM
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I greatly recommend you looking into Sally Swift - she will really help you educate yourself on proper balance and staying over your horses center of gravity, to aid your horse - and yourself of course.

The first thing I see in the video - is you are riding in a forward position in the tack. Your shoulders are ahead of the verticle, your shoulders aren't even aligned with your hips - so my question is, how can Sandie get off of her forehand...if you're on it? How can you aid Sandie to rock back under you, if you aren't even aiding your horse with your upper body?

Now, you aren't ahead of the verticle always, there are times I see you "up" and "opened - but not often.

As your Coach said - your hip angle is too closed. Get your seat in the saddle, get your upper body up and tall, straiten your lower back and relax. lol...easier said than done.

Your hollowed out lower back - how can you activate your core, to aid you in having a horse under you, when your balance is gushing out your front end? How can you keep your upper body tall, if your core isn't helping you?

As Sally Swift says - imagine a bowl of water being in the center of your belly. That's your balance. When you hollow out your lower back, guess what happens to that water? It gushes out the front've unbalanced that bowl of water to create the bowl tipping over.

If you roach your lower back, what happens to that bowl of water? It gushes out your back end - you have to have a perfect level to keep that balance, that bowl of water, even.

Your body has to be working at all times, to aid your horse to do her job. Your upper body has to be at the verticle, your core has to be activated, your inside leg has to be bending the ribs and driving your horse into that outside rein, your outside leg has to keep your horse between your legs. Your outside rein must be supportive and to keep that outside shoulder from popping, your inside rein has to be giving and taking all the while - while you are riding from seat into legs into hands *takes a deep breath* whew!

First, I would correct your upper body, and that hollowed out lower back. Get yourself in the proper position, to aid your horse to come up to you.

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post #4 of 9 Old 04-26-2011, 01:48 PM
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I suggest looking up Carolyn Rose Dresssage in google. Click on the first link that comes up. If you check her blog it is VERY helpful for the canter. She is an amazing trainer and has trained many people and horses to high level Dressage. I highly recommend her because she has delt with many horses just like this. Looking at the blog it tells you how to balance you and your horse! I hope this helps you! :)

"The hand should be a filter, not a plug or an open faucet."
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post #5 of 9 Old 04-26-2011, 03:55 PM
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I had the same problem with the horse I rode. At the canter she would fall on the forehand, and yank me down with her...she was 17.2 hands, and just a giant moose. So once she fell on the forehand...I lost all control and I would be cantering around in a weird half seat with my arms stretched out.

The first thing I did was change her bit to a full cheek waterford...just so it wasn't as easy for her to grab hold of the bit. She worked well in it, but if your horse is OK with the bit she's using...I don't recommend changing it.

Then I did transitions...I did so many transitions I would dream about them. First I would get into a slow collected sitting trot, then once she was collected at the trot I would ask for a canter. I would canter for about 4 strides then slow back down to a sitting trot again, do a few circles, then ask for a canter. I gradually let her canter more and more strides, but as soon as she fell on the forehand I would bring her back to a trot..or a walk.

After about a million trot canter transitions, I started doing walk canter transitions. I would collect her in a nice active walk, circle, then ask for a canter. Then I did that a million times.

Once your horse gets the idea to use their back instead of their forehand, it will be a lot easier for you to sit to.
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post #6 of 9 Old 04-26-2011, 10:35 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks everyone :) and to clarify I am not a hunt seat rider so maybe this was a bad video example ;) I ride dressage but my trainer said I sit waaay back so this was my attempt to correct that and I think I took it overboard in the other direction trying out hunt seat which felt so awkward to me haha! I'll see if I can get someone to video me and my actual horse in our dressage tack :)
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post #7 of 9 Old 04-26-2011, 10:39 PM Thread Starter
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Ok here's one...not dressage though but closer to how I ride with my mare...

YouTube - South Farm Jumper Show Fall 2010
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post #8 of 9 Old 04-26-2011, 10:49 PM Thread Starter
Green Broke
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Well after watching that video I was again in front of the vertical...although not a bad idea for jumping. I need to find a dressage video for you guys!!
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post #9 of 9 Old 04-27-2011, 09:36 AM
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I was having troubles with this last year and i was told that If want to make your back less rigid and make it more comfortable for you and the horse at a canter to try rolling your shoulder's and then settling them and opening up your chest and roll your hips slightly in rythm with the horse you'll find it much more comfortable.
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