How to canter?! - The Horse Forum

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post #1 of 12 Old 05-05-2012, 11:49 PM Thread Starter
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How to canter?!

Okay, so I've been riding for almost a year now, but I just can't quite "get" the canter! I know how my hips are supposed to move, and not to grip/brace, etc, yet I still manage to bounce. Or, I will use my lower back to absorb the shock, causing me to lean back a bit. When I do this, I don't bounce at all but it looks a bit funny! Then, when I try "straightening" my back, I bounce! If I try to "relax", I flop around like a rag doll, lol! I just can't seem to get my hips to move with him, like they do at the walk.

I don't have any photos, but can anyone help? The horse I ride has a smooth, slow canter, so it's not him. Any ideas of what I could be doing wrong/what could help?


Thanks!
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post #2 of 12 Old 05-06-2012, 12:13 AM
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Well, first off most people think that the canter is a back-front motion. So at the canter, many people push back to front. This causes you to slam down on the horses back and bounce around, then you are unable to relax the hips. Really the canter is an up-down motion, you can't really tell its an up-down motion until you sit the canter up-down. Once you start moving up-down instead of forward-back it because much easier to relax your hips instead up bunching up. Also as a side note, try relaxing your whole lower back instead of focusing on just your hips.

(Hope this helped!)
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post #3 of 12 Old 05-06-2012, 12:19 AM
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I don't ride English but as you start out it will look ugly and feel somewhat unnatural. What you are doing I think is right to start with. As you practice, you'll develop your muscles where you don't "flop" around. I ride western and sit back, more on my pockets. I started leaning back to help getting bounced. As I did more cantering, I'm more able to sit upright but not bounce. Granted I'm more of a horse trainer than a people trainer, this has worked for me.
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post #4 of 12 Old 05-06-2012, 01:08 AM
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Honestly you should ask your instructor (and if you don't have one, get one for sure) to put you on the lungeline and help you figure it out.

It's an upward motion of the hips, not a forward back motion. Same as trotting, an upward motion. Where most people mess up is they push with their hips which causes their butt to get some air and slam back down on the horse or lose its timing. Then you aren't with your horse at all and it's hard to get back to that.

Hence lungeline work.
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"Strength is the ability to use a muscle without tension"
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post #5 of 12 Old 05-06-2012, 01:39 AM
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Do you know that your leaning back, or does it just feel like it? Maybe ask someone to video you so you can see. I had a rider with the same problem, but she was just always leaning forward when she rode, so she felt like she was leaning back to sit the canter, but actually wasn't.

If the video reveals that you are truly leaning back, but your leg is still and your seat is following the movement, focus on how your seat feels when you're leaning back and work on adjusting your upper body while keeping your seat in place.

The other option (which generally works very well) is to ride with no stirrups for a while, focusing on your canter. You may want to do this in a round pen or other small area where you can be more assured that your horse will continue on the path you've set for it and not dart out from under you.
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post #6 of 12 Old 05-06-2012, 02:07 AM
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Somebody on here said something that really stuck with me, and upon trying it out, I found it to be extrememly helpful. It's this:

Think of the down portion of the canter, and really focus on going down with the horse. So, go out and canter around the arena, and feel for the beat in the three beat pattern that is the down beat; when the leading leg is hitting the ground,. It's One, Two, Three, and one , two , three, and . . . . The "three" is the down beat. Start counting the down beat , like this: Down, . . . . Down . . . Down. . . . Down.
When you feel the down beat, really think of your pelvis (pubic bone to belly button), as going down with the horse, into the little "valley" it goes down into with each canter stride. Of course, if you pelvis goes down, you will need to lean back a tiny bit in order for your body to stay vertical (just as a tree stays vertically oriented on a slightly downhill slope.)

Also, think of you feet going downward in the stirrup. NOT pushing the foot down, but letting the whole leg kind of slide further down as if you are trying to go past the stirrup and drag your heels on the arena. So, the whole feeling is of going down with the horse, when he goes down, and then being relaxed enough to let him carry you back up again.

Try this way of counting and thinking the canter and see if it doesn't help.
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post #7 of 12 Old 05-08-2012, 02:17 PM
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Longe line lessons......the best way to learn to sit the canter. Don't use your hands....use flying arms...and ride, ride, ride. It feels amazing and will also help you learn to keep balanced.

Imagining life without a horse is like imagining life without food, water and air.
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post #8 of 12 Old 05-08-2012, 02:30 PM
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A lot of good advice. I would add something that worked for me. Not saying it's for everybody but it did help me personally. Canter bareback. I love the freedom and the way the horse moves. Awesome.
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post #9 of 12 Old 05-08-2012, 08:27 PM
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Fall enough times and you'll figure it out, like I did.
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post #10 of 12 Old 05-08-2012, 08:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mildot View Post
Fall enough times and you'll figure it out, like I did.

This is why lessons & instructors are so important. Do it safe and do it correctly and have fun.
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