I can't get horses to canter anymore, please help? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 4 Old 11-19-2011, 08:14 PM Thread Starter
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I can't get horses to canter anymore, please help?

I used to go riding for a few years then a had a break and now I'm coming back to it. They used to put me on easier horses before but now that I'm older they are putting me and harder horses and I'm finding it really hard to get them into canter. My instructor said its to do with my leg positioning - that it needs to be further back behind the girth. I try to put my leg back but its hard to squeeze the horse like that. So when I come up to a corner in trot and do sitting trot I try to put my leg back and squeeze but it seems to goes really quick and I feel in a really bad position when I'm trying to squeeze the horse into canter - it feels like my body goes forward when my leg goes back.
Is there any advice in how I can get the horse to canter? Am I doing it wrong?
Thanks x
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post #2 of 4 Old 11-19-2011, 08:40 PM
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your are doing it wrong, but then it's part of learning and something that I think everyone goes through, if the horse doesnt' take the canter easilyl.

one thing that might help is to think of "scooping" the horse up and in front of you when you ask for the canter. YOu need your stomache muscles for this.
Sit down for the last couple of trot strides so you can ask for the canter. Sit up really tall, even make it feel like you are leaning back if you need to, and think of king of grabbing your horse with your ankles and scooping him UP and in front of you . YOu can imagine that you are bringing him up toward your tummy, kind of how you would if you were laying on your back, with one of those large excersize balls between your legs (your knees) and you were kind of curling your abs inward to lift the ball up tward your chest.
Of course, on the horse you don't want to curl up, but it's the feeling of "scooping" him between your legs and squeezing him forward and using the strength of your abs, NOT curling over, that will get him to strike off without him rushing into a crazily fast trot, which then through you off balance and get you leaning forward.
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post #3 of 4 Old 11-22-2011, 12:37 PM
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Hello there. It seems you are having trouble with balance and leg muscle? I have to fully agree with TinyLiny's advice. I know some lovely excersizes that you can do while riding to help improve your balance and leg muscle. Below they are described... (I'm sorry there aren't any names for them, I really have heard 1,000 different names throughout my life... I didn't know which was the professional term...)

Balance Issues

1) Put your legs on the horses shoulders, positioned in front of the saddle. It feels very awkward but ride like that at a walk! It helps your bottom get in the correct place, helps your seat and seriously helps balance. Ride like that for 10 minutes every time you ride! It helps so much!

Put your hands out to your sides and do this at a walk and trot (and canter when ready) it helps with balance and really honestly helps!

Leg Muscle Workouts

1) Put your stirrups over your saddle in front of you and trot without your stirrups. Just make sure your horse isn't going to spook because of that. Try to post during this for 10 minutes as well as a "sit-trot" for 10 minutes. It really really helps, trust me!

Age doesn't show your maturity, it's your actions that do.

Last edited by SarcasticMare; 11-22-2011 at 12:39 PM.
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post #4 of 4 Old 11-22-2011, 01:50 PM
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Asking from the corner doesn't help the horse. You probably realize that we ask the horse to do a slight haunches in when we cue for the canter. Ask your instructor to teach you to do this bc you can ride your horse at the walk this way and therefore, practice it. Horses will canter or gallop when they think they can be balanced. If the footing is off, or uneven, horses naturally drop back to the trot bc it is more secure, and they do not like falling or becoming cast, as in a stall. Their stiff backs make it difficult to get up again, and you see this with aged horses who are quite frightened if they have trouble getting up after rolling, for instance.
Anyway, at the corner of a rectangular ring the horse is slightly off balance and would prefer to trot it. If you ask even one stride away from the corner he would probably take your cue to canter.
Julie Goodnight has a good program on canter cues, and a new video that I think will help you.
"Canter Master" Horse Master DVD with Julie Goodnight
I have been watching her program for a few years, but I remember reading her articles in "Practical Horseman" some 20 years ago. She has the demeanor around horses that I try to emulate, since I'm a little bit of a hothead, unfortunately! **Corporal looks down, embarassed**
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cantering , leg aids , leg position

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