Improving the Canter - Part I
I’m Pierre Beaupère, Professional Rider and Trainer.
I wrote some articles about dressage and
I would like to share this one with you.
Do not hesitate to write me if you
need more explanations or if something
is not clear…
Many Riders have a lot of troubles
with the canter.
They just keep cantering but without
any idea on how to really improve it!
And when they aboard collection, they try
to slow down the canter and they loose
the quality of the bounces.
The result is a lot of resistances, a deterioration
of the contact, the horse frequently becoming
hollow and above the bit.
Before starting any work in canter, it is
very important to be able to make
THE YOUNG HORSE
A lot of riders have troubles to start
the canter on the right foot (lead).
No matter if you are on the right or
left hand, you ask the canter as you
learned but the horse always makes
frequent mistakes and start on the
I had this trouble a lot when I was
starting as a working student in Portugal.
It was always good in the corners but
on the straight lines, I couldn't make
a good transition to canter.
I was riding several young horses at that time
and they were all doing the same mistakes.
I must confess that it was driving me crazy
and feeling the worst rider in the Universe.
I went to my boss and told him "every time
I ask for the canter, the horse goes to counter canter,
please tell me what I'm doing wrong!"
Do you know what he responded?
"If you ask the canter to the right and the
horse does every time a transition to left
canter, why don't you ask the canter
to the left to have it on the right?"
I looked at him with a pretty stupid face,
trying to know if he was just playing with me
or giving one of the Great Secret of Life...
Too proud to say anything, I just tried and...
I still smile thinking about those years
but why did it work so well?
It's actually very simple:
A young horse and a "green" horse is
not yet very balanced.
The transition to canter means for him
to engage a lot his inside hind leg and
to carry more weight on this leg.
When you are asking for the canter on
a straight line, you do your best to keep
Because he is not yet very respectful of
your inside leg, we use to bend the horses
too much to the inside and, therefore,
to block their inside diagonal
(inside front leg and outside hind leg).
But the canter starts with these legs!
And the inside hind legs will also be blocked
when the horse has to engage it a lot to canter!
When my boss was telling me to ask
counter canter to have the right canter,
he knew I was going to bend the horse
a little bit to the outside, and that I was going
to give to the young horses the freedom
to the inside diagonal that he needs
to start the canter on the right lead!
So, no need, to ask counter canter to have
the right canter, just bend the horse's neck
a little bit to the outside before the transition
You will give freedom to the inside front leg
and outside hind leg and your baby should start
on the right foot.
And don't worry, slowly you will get better
understanding of your aids, better balance
and better control that will allow you to ask
for less and less bending until you do
the transition with no bending at all!