What do you think of me cantering? - The Horse Forum
  • 1 Post By alexischristina
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post #1 of 9 Old 07-31-2012, 07:01 PM Thread Starter
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Smile What do you think of me cantering?

I would like to share pictures of me cantering with my friends who are also horse-oriented people and better riders than I am... but I do not know if there is anything I could show...

I have been horse riding for a year now and I feel that it is not meant for me because it does not come easily to me. When my boyfriend sits on a horse once in a blue moon - he jumps, and does it quite well... :) However, that's my lifelong passion and I do not want to give up :)

The horse has been under saddle since April this year. He is a four-year-old gelding.

What do you think of my position? What should I concentrate most on? Arms? Heels? Which picture is the closest to the "right position"?
Thank you for any pieces of advice. :)





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post #2 of 9 Old 07-31-2012, 09:37 PM
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Going from your feet up:

Your feet are too far in the stirrup, it should just be the ball of your foot in the stirrup, and you need to get your heels down! Toes to the sky, heels to the ground. It'll be easier when your feet aren't so far into the stirrup. It also strikes me that perhaps your stirrups are too long and need to go up a hole to be able to get your leg under you properly. You're riding with your leg way too far forward.

You appear to be pinching with your knee, which is pivoting you forward and making your lower leg swing back and forth under you. Relax your knee and get your lower leg on the horse, rather than gripping with your knee. Could also be a product of your stirrups being too long and being unable to sink down.

You're way too far forward in the saddle, you need to try and sit your butt down in the tack, and if you're going to come up out of the saddle keep your weight over the center of the saddle rather than hovering over the pommel, making yourself unbalanced and thus unbalancing your horse. Bring your shoulders back so you have more security (which will also help gain a better seat).

Your reins look a little tight, I'd try to relax the reins without opening your fingers / letting them slip through, and bring your elbows into your sides a little rather than sticking them out like wings and make sure you turn your thumbs up rather than holding 'piano' hands or 'puppy paws'.

This is nothing to do with your position, but I'm wondering why you're riding such a young / green horse if you've only been riding a year? It sounds to me like a dangerous situation, especially given where your weaknesses are.
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post #3 of 9 Old 07-31-2012, 09:49 PM
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Well, the last picture is the best. If you were to shorten your stirrup one or even two holes, and lower your heel a bit, that would be a pretty good position for a half seat canter.

I agree pretty much with what the above poster said; pinching with knees, heel is up , foot too far into stirrup. You look very tight through out your whole body, and it looks like you may be "riding his face" a bit, meaning you are balancing off the rein and pulling hard on his mouth.

An older , more experience horse will help you work on your riding skills. YOu may not be a natural (neither am I) but you CAN learn. If you have passion and patience, you have what it takes!
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post #4 of 9 Old 08-01-2012, 05:39 AM Thread Starter
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Thank you for your comments. I find them very constructive.

Today, I am going to 1) shorten my stirrups and 2) try to lower my heel. I found plastic stirrups difficult to ride and ordered bow balance ones. Maybe this will help me or at least not bother me. 3) Bring my shoulders back.

Question 1: Ok, there is a difficulty with reins - the horse has a tendency to go down too much while cantering thus sometimes he stumble. The trainer told to me to bring his head back and show him that he has to concentrate and see everything. It might look as if I was pulling him but I really tried to have flexible hands. So what do you recommend? Loose the reins, make them longer?

Question 2: How should my elbows look like while half seat cantering? I sometimes straighten my elbows or I feel like they were sticks - stiff. What can I do to relax my arms and elbows? :(

There is something that might surprise you... the horse is mine. I couldn't ride "a horse" it had to be "the horse". I considered all the drawbacks of getting a young, unbroken horse but after half a year I must admit that there are only advantages. The horse turned out to be a very affectionate, trustworthy partner and we work and learn together. However, he was broken by a professionalist who trains me four times a week and sometimes sits on my horse to check if everything is ok and the horse "got it". So I am not alone. I am not into horse sports but I do want to improve and I do not feel like "I'm the best" but I would like to ride safely for me and my horse as his comfort is as important as mine. I hope you understand me and respect my decision on that horse :)
Thank you

Last edited by m00nisek; 08-01-2012 at 05:41 AM.
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post #5 of 9 Old 08-01-2012, 05:47 AM
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I like you in the last picture.

Work on that lower leg and engaging those abs to keep those reins!

But they could be a hair longer, sit back over your legs.

"Strength is the ability to use a muscle without tension"

Last edited by Skyseternalangel; 08-01-2012 at 05:49 AM.
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post #6 of 9 Old 08-01-2012, 08:31 AM
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Another (returning)beginner's critique:

Horse 1st, as it is all related, IMO...

In all except the final photo, it appears to me that she ia very certaihkr= the horse IS very well "on the bit" using his back muscles properly, certainly not hollow, etc..while I agree that he could use a shorter rein with just some simple "contact", a little "sponge/sponge" with the 4th finger on the rein making some gentle contact every few strides with the sides of his mouth, I do think he looks great in terms of his action--can other's ring in on this in case my info/advice is somehow off?? I certainly do not wish to mislead, this is simply how I SEE it. (It is also 5:20am and I've been at work all night!)

As far as the comments everyone has about your position, I agree totally...and, I also think you look good. And happy! Happy to be riding and certainly should be enjoying your horse and your situation with him, as it sounds great as you describe it!!! SO, try not to worry too much, a year is NOTH'IN in horse/riding-terms (Riding time, etc...) you have ages to go yet...and for a true beginner, you are doing great, especially with such a green mount!:) He's super nice looking BTW!

Anyone else??

Best to you, M00nisek!!!! ;0)

"I'm too busy working on my own grass to notice if yours is greener"
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post #7 of 9 Old 08-01-2012, 08:48 AM
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Just to agree with above: yes there are flaws, but really it's nothing that bad. A year of riding is nothing - I think you look great considering.

Everyone else has got the critique covered, but I truly second bringing your shoulders back. Doing that will automatically help your seat and your whole mentality in the saddle. Good luck!
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post #8 of 9 Old 08-01-2012, 03:00 PM
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Nothing new to add, but once you focus on having your heels down you'll find yourself to be much more balanced - there will be less need for you to be so foward and you wont feel so unbalanced as to brace yourself on his mouth and the reins. Besides that for only a year riding you look very good and he is such a cutie!
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post #9 of 9 Old 08-01-2012, 03:38 PM
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Originally Posted by m00nisek View Post
...Question 1: Ok, there is a difficulty with reins - the horse has a tendency to go down too much while cantering thus sometimes he stumble. The trainer told to me to bring his head back and show him that he has to concentrate and see everything. It might look as if I was pulling him but I really tried to have flexible hands. So what do you recommend? Loose the reins, make them longer?...
When I first started cantering on my mare, she'd go way heavy on the front end and put her head down so low that I was afraid we were going to go arse over tincups. I don't have any pictures, but she'd put her nose to within inches of the ground while doing a canter that was just under a gallop. Add in that my arena is too small for her to gallop, and it was an ugly feeling.

So the first thing I did was simply pull her nose up. I'd start the canter with a loose rein (I normally use an Aussie-style saddle and western-style slack in the reins) and then if she went head low, I'd brute force her head out of the ground. Oddly enough, I didn't have to brace against the poleys. It was mostly a matter of 'toes up' (I hate heels down), keep most of my weight in my thighs, force my shoulders back and pull.

Once I got her nose off the ground, I found I was encouraging her to put too much weight on her front by - you may have guessed it - leaning too far forward. FWIW, the mental image I used (use) is to keep my weight in my thighs and tilt my shoulder back behind my thighs, without my rump settling into the saddle. No pictures of me doing it, but my GUESS is that in reality I am still SLIGHTLY tilted forward & it only seems otherwise in comparison to what I did before.

Another thing that worked well for me was to use a restraining rein. Although I prefer slack in the reins and even neck reining, when Mia gets wound up I go back to two hands. As the right shoulder goes forward, I don't pull back, but I lag a little in moving my right hand forward. It isn't so much a 'slow down' as it is a 'don't reach so far with each stride'. We've practiced it a lot at the walk & trot, so she picks it up fast at the canter. In 6-8 strides, she'll keep driving with her rear but take shorter steps with her front, and we end up with her shifting her weight to the rear. This usually raises her head more, but she's Arabian and I don't do any showing and it works for us.

With both my Arabian mare and my mostly Arabian Appy gelding, trying to hold them back using both reins seems to make them want to extend forward MORE, not less. It becomes a tug of war that I either lose, or that forces me to bring them down to a walk.

Shifting MY weight back - not sinking into the saddle but just shifting my balance - and using a restraining rein results in them shifting their balance and loosening up.

I've had perhaps 20 lessons in my life and am pretty unorthodox in my style, so take all this with a huge FWIW.

Quick note on heels down...my heels don't go down very far. However, when my heels come up, it usually means I'm gripping with my knees instead of allowing the weight to slide past my knees and into my heels. I have tight hips, so I often need to make a conscious effort to push my knees apart. FWIW.

"Make the right thing easy and the wrong thing...well, ignore it mostly."

Last edited by bsms; 08-01-2012 at 03:41 PM.
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