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wordstoasong 07-31-2008 01:17 PM

Help with the canter!
*Sorry if in the wrong area!

Now, I love cantering. I'm sure a lot of people do as well.
Now, I have some issues with my position in the canter.

When I start, I tend to lean forwards and end up in a 2-point seat the whole time while riding the canter.

My instructor tells me to lean back, shoulders back and try to sit it. But I can't seem to do that. Also, my legs sometimes swing while in the canter.

Any help for fixing this? I use to be able to sit the canter, but now I seem not able to. Thank you.

FoxyRoxy1507 07-31-2008 01:31 PM

drop ur stirrups and relax!

i used to have this same problem and the only way that helped me was to drop my stirrups and sit back. by doing this, it makes you have to keep u'r leg stable and build ur muscles and in order to stay on you have to move with ur horse. but most importantly just remember to relax your whole body and let your hips move with ur horse not against him.

hope that helps.

kickshaw 07-31-2008 01:43 PM

put your bum in the saddle's seat and ride the canter like you were scooting up a chair to a desk. it'll automatically help you lean back, and once you're in position there, the leg will either fix itself, or be easier to fix :)

claireauriga 07-31-2008 01:52 PM

Heh, I was working on something like this just an hour ago. I had my first go at cantering without stirrups!

I have long legs that go quite a way round even a big broad horse, so I have trouble keeping my leg on when riding, but I have learned that the easiest way to sort of pull yourself into the saddle is to keep a really firm lower leg. I'm having trouble with my heels coming up and my leg coming forwards a bit, but I'm strengthening those muscles now and the firmer my leg is (and more relaxed my torso) the easier it is to a) stay glued to the saddle and b) give aids.

When I started out cantering, I was taut to lean way back, behind the motion, to keep my balance. I was also holding onto the saddle at this point (and was doing the same again today xD) but it was a really good thing to remember because it stopped me from automatically leaning forwards. I'm beginning to creep ahead of the motion now, but because I'm used to leaning back = comfy and relaxed, it helps me relax my body and engage my hips with the horse when I'm reminded to bring my shoulders back and sit up in lessons.

If a rider is having trouble sitting the canter, I've seen the instructors at my stables tell them to go back to holding on to the pommel with one or two hands and practice just getting used to the motion again. This works best if you've got someone in the arena with you, obviously - I wouldn't recommend doing it without someone there, just in case - but you could try lengthening your reins, holding onto the saddle and just getting used to the motion again. It also lets you concentrate then on individual things like back, legs or hips.

JillyBean 08-01-2008 01:11 PM

I actually just answered a question very similar to yours on another forum and here was my answer:

It seems to be that you're relying a bit too much on your lower leg to keep you on. In reality, however, you probably don't even need your lower leg to stay on!

Sitting a gait smoothly eminates from your pelvis and lower back. Being centered over this area of your body will help you out TONS, as far as your balance is concerned. The first thing to look at is where your lower back is at when you're riding. It should be the same at the halt, walk, trot and canter in the three-point (full seat) position and this is very centered over your pelvis. Ask your trainer to tell you when you look completely straight in the saddle, then memorize the sensation, so you can recognize when you have it and when you don't.

Now, once you're sitting up straight, you want to find the base of your balance: your seat bones. While you're sitting up nice and straight, take your hands and place them directly underneath your seatbones. You should be able to feel their weight and an almost sharp feeling to them on your hands. Be sure to keep in mind that these are what you are balancing on! Equate that to balancing a bowling ball on a couple of pencils: not the most balanced situation! What you should do, while you still have your hands under your seatbones, is roll your pelvis forward and underneath, so the bottom of your pelvis is moving forward, while your lower back is pushing backward. The new sensation on your hands will be less acute pressure from your seatbones and more "meat" from your buttocks. Go back to the analogy now. Instead of bowling ball balanced on two pencils, you now have a bit more cushion, like a bowling ball resting on a couple of firm pillows. This cushion, along with providing more shock absorption, creates a greater surface area on which to balance. If you keep this position while you're cantering, it will make feeling and moving with the motions much easier.

Another important part in balancing at any gait is settling the weight of your body across your inner thighs as well as your seatbones and buttocks. Be sure not to tense up any of your thigh muscles, and relax and recenter your seat bones before the transition to the canter. Think about all of your weight pouring all the way from the top of your head right down into your thighs. By creating this weight in your thighs, you'll have lowered your center of balance even more, making staying with the motion even easier.

Also remember that one of the main shock absorbers when riding at gait is your lower back. Don't be afraid to let it act almost as a joint as your hips sink, rise, and swing in different directions with the motion of the horse. It's normal for it to be very mobile, in order to keep the top half of you from moving too much and upsetting your balance.

And one more thing...don't forget to breath!! Very imperative to a nice, relaxing ride. When you hold your breath, you often tense up muscles without even realizing it and the whole idea behind keeping your balance is to be able to relax into the motion, making it comfortable for you and more importantly the horse!!

I apologize for the length, but I am hoping this will clear things up for you, as I understand as a fellow horseperson, that situations such as these can be so very frustrating. Good luck and let us know how it works out!

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