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Kayty 04-19-2012 12:52 AM

Exercises to improve the canter
I thought it would be good to start a series of little threads filled with members tips of improving certain aspects of the horse's training. It will be a good place for people to refer to for help, before starting a new thread :)

So, what are your best exercises to improve the canter?

MyBoyPuck 04-19-2012 07:31 PM

Transitions all the way. I got the best piece of info yet about the canter when riding in a clinic a few years ago. He said, you can canter endless circles all day long without ever improving a step, but take that same canter and break it up into trot transitions every time the canter starts to fall apart, and your horse will never take a bad canter step. While it's not quite that black and white, it turned out to be very good advice. My horse tends to not use his back at the canter, so transitions have worked very well for him.

Kayty 04-19-2012 08:24 PM

Absolutely trot-canter-trot transitions, exactly the same method as on how to improve the trot. These transitions are so under rated considering how useful they are. They greatly improve the trot, while also encouraging more jump in the canter.

I like to ride loops in the canter, which help to assist in improve the balance of the canter, and encourage the horse to take more weight behind or they stumble in the counter canter part of the loop.

Riding spirals on a 20m circle in canter - Very very gradually, bring the circle smaller by asking the haunches to come in slightly from the outside leg, until you are riding a 15m circle, then spiral gradually back out. This exercise is great for developing hind quarter strength in preparation for the collected canter, you will find that the horse will automatically want to take more weight behind.

MyBoyPuck 04-19-2012 08:32 PM

I like the spiral in at the canter exercise, but so far lack the complete core muscles to properly maintain it! I can hear my horse down there thinking, "cool she's getting tired up there" and off he goes out my outside aids back onto the 20 meter track. That one works me as much as it does my horse.

Kayty 04-19-2012 08:48 PM

Haha maybe I need to start a 'excercises to improve rider fitness/core strength' thread ;)
It certainly does work your core though, having to hold them together on a small circle with only your seat

MyBoyPuck 04-19-2012 08:53 PM

I was actually thinking of asking that very question about how to improve core strength. I recently bought my first dressage saddle. Before I was making due with an AP saddle. After only one ride finally sitting the proper dressage aligned position for the first time, my abs burned so badly the next day I thought they were going to burst into flames. It's amazing how much core strength is involved in correct riding.

Kayty 04-19-2012 09:25 PM

Absolutely! In a dressage saddle, you can't rely so much on your legs to hold you in place, to stay upright, with your legs hanging long, takes core strength in itself, let alone trying to engage the core to use your seat.

Pilates is great to build up core strength, I also run quite a bit which in itself helps the core, if you engage your core while you're running.
Planks are good too, and leg lifts - lay flat on the floor, hands by your sides, palms down, then keep your legs straight and together, lift them to a 90 degree angle, hold, and lower again. See how many you can do without your abs turning into flaming balls of muscle :P
Another one I like is to get on the floor, legs out straight in sitting position. Rock your upper body back until your seat bones are on the ground, then lift your legs about 45 degrees to match the angle of your upper body, legs straight, and hold for as long as you can. That BURNS!!!!

kitten_Val 04-21-2012 01:24 PM


Originally Posted by Kayty (Post 1461477)
So, what are your best exercises to improve the canter?

Nothing work better for me and my mares than transitions for the canter (trot is a different story: I like spiralling in/out the most).

faye 04-21-2012 02:35 PM

Has anyone got any exercises for schooling the canter from the very beggining?

Reeco is struggling to get it into his head that we have to strike off into canter and not just run into it. He always gets the right leg but we cant get a nice clean strike off.

I've been realy working on getting his botty right under him and his weight as far back as possible but he still rushes through the transition.

Beling 04-22-2012 03:52 PM

I ike this thread!

It's taken us a long time to get over the "wildness" of the canter. While transitions are great for the physical preparation (halt-trot really gets my horse in a good balance) it wasn't until I was told I needed to canter "as much as you trot". So I started going longer, aiming for the same even rhythm we have in the trot, and aside from exhaustion, it's been all good, settling my horse, and making the canter routine instead of a big deal.

We are beginning leg-yields at canter. Now that's an awkward exercise for us!

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