How to ride canter? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 19 Old 05-10-2013, 06:55 PM Thread Starter
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How to ride canter?

This question probably seems really weird...but how does one properly sit the canter? I'm new to English and I got my first English lesson (which was my third ever time riding English--first ever lesson) on April 24th and surprisingly I've improved quite a bit since then. My third lesson was yesterday and I got to experience the canter and small jump.

Note: Although it was my fifth time riding English and third ever lesson, I do NOT want to hear rude remarks that my instructor is moving too quickly. They are very experienced and are qualified and I trust them to make safe decisions concerning my mount as well as myself. They wouldn't rush anything that would make me into poor rider or that would have me harming my mount. In my few lessons I've turned into quite a confident rider (still respectful toward my mount, but more trusting than what I was when I didn't have an instructor coaching me) and I've improved dramatically. Example: My first lesson I was practically standing in post trot, but now I have my leg properly placed and rise just the right amount and I can now hold two point around the entire arena without slipping back into the saddle. *I should do before and after shots sometime o.o when my father texts pictures from my third lesson to me :3*

Anywhoo. As for the canter, I felt as if I was off "balance"...or it didn't seem as smooth as it should. My instructor told me I did a great job and I assume it's simply like post trot and it'll take me lesson or two to get used to how to properly ride it.

What I'm looking for is, I guess, an explanation on what a person is supposed to be doing during the canter. I've tried finding an example video to no avail. I will be asking my instructor for further explanation at my next lesson (this upcoming Thursday), but I'd like to mentally prepare myself a bit in the meanwhile if at all possible.

Thank you in advance!

Also, as for the "jump" I did, it was a pole on the ground (a whole 3 inches off the ground) that I held two point over...nothing too crazy. I just don't want to hear rude remarks about my instructor methods. :3 I'm pretty sure they know what they're doing.

Again, thank you for the help on the canter. XD
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post #2 of 19 Old 05-10-2013, 07:07 PM
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For the lope you sit like you do at a walk or sittin a trot.. just sit and go along with the movement- be limber in your back but be sitting straight. Dont be too stiff or ride against the movement. Just go with the flow, lol.

Keep your bellybutton aligned with the horses crest and keep your hands limber enough to be movin with your body but not so limber that you look like a pianist.

Youll get it.

Congrats on your first jump- by the way!

Last edited by toto; 05-10-2013 at 07:11 PM.
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post #3 of 19 Old 05-10-2013, 07:29 PM
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This is from a western perspective, but it is the best video I've seen on cantering - at least, it most accurately describes what has worked or not worked for me. Not exactly a forward seat, but I think it still has a lot to offer:

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post #4 of 19 Old 05-10-2013, 09:37 PM
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Stay relaxed, and just roll with the horse. Think of yourself as being on a boat, where you have to loosen your joints in order to move freely, but keep just enough weight to stop yourself from flopping. Try to keep your hips soft and moving with the motion of the horse, and sink your weight into your heels to anchor yourself. You might want to ask your trainer if she has a horse with a big, smooth, exaggerated canter, so you can really feel the movement and get your body used to it while not getting thrown about.
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post #5 of 19 Old 05-11-2013, 02:21 AM
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Sit quietly. What I mean by that is to sit relaxed. You want to focus the most in your hips. Your hips should be level with your legs, basically the same as a walk or trot. You want your hips to move forward and back almost rocking-chair like. Feel the horse. Don't think about it, let go of "i should be doing _______ " in your head. Just let your body feel the motion. If it is choppy feeling, you need to ask for more of longer stride from your horse. If you feel like you are going to fast, slow down. Let the horse carry YOU. You are just along for the ride. Keep your hands up and still and relax your elbows. Your hands/arms should move forward and back with the motion of the horse. The horse will natrally pull his head and neck forward and back to carry the momentum of faster gaits. You want to move your hands with him. Being to still causes it to be hard on the horse and to loose causes them to do their own thing (speed up, cut corners, etc).

While all horses have the same gaits ( w/t/c/g) they def do NOT all feel the same. I've ridden horses who have a canter that feels like a rocking chair, some that feel choppy, and some that are so smooth it is just way to easy to sit still and ride. You may just have to get used to your horse's movements as they are all very different depending on the breed. Sometimes even then it will vary between horses. (For example I rode a TB who had the most uncomfortable trot you can imagine. I thought I was going to bounce right out of the saddle. I've never worked so hard in my life to post. It was easier NOT to post then to do it. and this was a former racehorse, pure tb. Then I get on my trainer's TB who is also an x racehorse and he is pretty smooth. Same breed, very different feels).

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post #6 of 19 Old 05-11-2013, 09:12 AM
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yeah each horses have different movement,
tom i could canter on, but to learn to rise was hard but could sit the trot,

where as choco had best trot, could rise to it easily, couldnt sit the trot tho, and couldnt sit the canter as it was to thumpy and bumpy

miover has a good but fast trot which is hard to sit and rise to, but canter is very smooth, when he does it properly lol
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post #7 of 19 Old 05-11-2013, 02:10 PM Thread Starter
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I'd like to thank each and every one of your for helping! The things you said definitely will help me mentally prepare for my next lesson. I was definitely a bit "uptight" when first cantering which probably counteracted what was supposed to be happening--however I was the same way with the post trot (I was nervous so I didn't do so well, but on my second lesson I had mentally prepared myself and everything went MUCH more smoothly).

Again, thank you for the comments! I really appreciate it(:
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post #8 of 19 Old 05-11-2013, 02:22 PM
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Originally Posted by rexing93 View Post
I was definitely a bit "uptight" when first cantering which probably counteracted what was supposed to be happening-
Absolutely. In a lot of cases, when a rider tenses up due to anxiety they have a tendency to grip with their legs which will mess up their position AND make the horse go faster which will only make their nerves worse. The most important thing is to just relax and "flow with the horse" instead of trying to make things happen.

You should ask for a lunge lesson where they will focus on keeping the horse going and all you have to do is focus on your seat. Depending on how that goes, maybe even drop your stirrups! When I was learning to canter they put me on a lunge line and made me close my eyes to get a feel for everything. It was a bit scary at first but I found it effective.
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post #9 of 19 Old 05-11-2013, 02:29 PM
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No rude remarks about your trainer from me! As much as I would love to spend hours of lessons on a lunge line at a trot myself (seriously, I would. It would help me a TON! NOT being sarcastic!) I think that it is very important for a new rider to learn the basic feel and how to sit/control every gait as quickly as is safely reasonable rather than spending weeks or months 'working up to it.' The sooner you know and have experienced them, the better off you will be if a horse happens to bolt or otherwise do the unexpected. People will argue that a 'good' lesson horse shouldn't do that, and they're right to an extent, but horses are horses, and knowing how to stay on and not panic at the canter is a very basic skill that should not wait until all the finer points of slower gaits have been mastered IMO.

As for sitting the canter- relax and roll with it. Literally, your hips will roll with it- I sorta imagine if I was sitting on one of those big exercise balls with my feet on the floor (stirrups) and my hips will roll forward and down and back again, with one slightly ahead of the other depending on which lead the horse is on. Stay loose (easier said then done) and the horse will move you how you should go.
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post #10 of 19 Old 05-11-2013, 02:49 PM
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I say this to every person who asks how to deal with the canter;

just relax and realize that it will take some time for you to get the feel of it, and that every new rider goes through that period of time where they wish there was a quick way, but actually, it's often a matter of time and practice.

The remarks about relaxing and letting the horse move you are true. Do "less", and trust the horse to carry you.
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