Join Date: Oct 2013
Location: I'm an American girl living in southwest France
Mavis, I used to canter pretty well, but today tried again on a different horse after a 4-month break ... and wow, talk about a disaster. So I totally get where you're coming from.
I'll say that if I had tried to do it without stirrups I would have fallen, no doubt about it. Therefore, I do NOT recommend that you canter without stirrups yet. Trot? Yes, definitely. It helps find your seat/balance which helps with the canter. I used to do a sitting trot without stirrups just fine. Now I'm popcorn, so that's also why my canter sucks.
I'm also like you in that when I go into panic mode, I grip with my legs. Therefore, no stirrups is bad for that too. At least with stirrups on I have something else to put pressure on instead of the horse's sides.
Since we have the same problem, I'm going to share with you what my instructor says we're going to do to fix my issues:
1. Practice stirrupless walking and trotting. A lot. Until I no longer bounce.
2. Practice cantering with a few things in place to help me and the horse that starts going to fast because I'm gripping:
--Another horse stands in the ring in the way of her making more than one time around;
--I open the outside rein to keep her from drifting inside the ring (I also use this one to slow her down, essentially turning her into the fence to slow her down while saying "whoa" and also letting go of the pommel and using that right rein);
--I hold onto the pommel with the inside rein in hand (that rein longer than the outside/open/shorter rein).
--Lean back while focusing on making a scooping motion with my butt in rhythm with the horse.
I hope this helps. For both of us!
“When I bestride him, I soar, I am a hawk: he trots the air; the earth sings when he touches it; the basest horn of his hoof is more musical than the pipe of Hermes. ” ~ William Shakespeare