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azarni 04-11-2009 05:34 PM

Confidence at the canter? (very long)
Well, mostly I'm just a lurker here on the Horse Forum. Anyways, I've been reading some of the other confidence threads on here, and nothing quite matches my problem.

I've been riding for 4 years. I have plenty of experience at the canter, and my current teacher says I've got an excellent seat. The horse I'm currently riding is a purebred, 16hh Arabian named Kemmel. He has this amazing, long-strided, super smooth canter that matches me perfectly, as I'm quite tall.

But, for some reason, I have absolutely no confidence when I'm cantering him. He has only done a few naughty things while I was riding him, none of which were major. I've never fallen off, and he goes almost perfect for me.

Whenever my teacher tells me to start cantering, I always stall, trotting another circle, making excuses like "there's a person there that I don't want to run into". It may be 2 or 3 circles later that I'll actually start cantering. When I do, he goes absolutely wonderful, steering fine, rarely breaking gait, always on the proper lead. He never takes off.

I've been cantering long enough that I have no major issues - my seat never leaves the saddle, my hands are fine, etc.. I just need to turn my toes in and work on encouraging Kemmel to drive from behind more and become more supple to the bit (he's a little heavy on the forehand sometimes).

What is my problem? I hate, hate, hate cantering, even though I have no issues. I'm terrified that Kemmel is going to crash into another horse or something, even though he never has. I don't know why I feel so insecure.

Jubilee Rose 04-11-2009 09:31 PM

Honestly, I don't think there's really a right answer here. I've struggled with this before as well... sometimes in my lesson I'd get a knot in my throat when the instructor asked us to canter. The canter is an entirely different experience from the trot. At a trot you feel composed and controlled (for the most part) but with the canter, all you seem to hear is the ba-boom, ba-boom and start imagining... what if that canter suddenly breaks into a wild gallop?? However, the canter is also a beautiful gait. When you're riding a horse with an amazing, smooth stride, it is truly amazing. I think the best thing to do is just keep doing it. You've associated cantering with something bad and put a mental block around it, even though you KNOW that your horse is reliable. Let's face it though -- riding a horse (not even just at the canter) is dangerous in itself! We as riders ALWAYS take the risk when we hop into the saddle. You'll have to ask yourself if the risk is too great, that it overpowers your enjoyment of it. The canter can be a really amazing gait if you let it. Whenever I have a really good, relaxing canter with my horse, it makes my day! Maybe ask your instructor if you can have a private lesson to work on the canter. Ask her to walk you through the steps. Or, even better, ask if you can canter on the lunge line (you'll need a big area for this). This might boost your confidence since you have that extra security of the instructor holding the line. As I said, I think it will really boil down to how much you really want to do it. Good luck... I hope that helped a little bit. :wink:

azarni 04-13-2009 03:21 PM

Actually, the majority of my lessons are private already, with a full hour in the saddle. I only get to ride once a week, so my mom makes sure I'm getting the best possible lesson.
I have a lesson today in about 2 hours, so I'll ask if I can work on the canter for the majority of the lesson.

azarni 04-17-2009 07:45 PM

Well, my canter lesson really seemed have paid off. By the end of the hour, I wasn't nervous at all to transition to canter. Yesterday I had a lesson as well, and again I wasn't nervous! Yay!

smrobs 04-17-2009 08:05 PM

Congrats, I am glad that it worked out and you are overcoming your confidence issues. If it makes you feel any better, I have been riding for over 20 years and I still worry about the canter sometimes. :)

azarni 04-18-2009 04:52 PM

Thanks! I'm sure I'll still have tons of problems when I ride another horse, but as long as I'm on Kemmel I'm okay.

StormyBlues 04-18-2009 06:52 PM

This might sound weird, but try a few group lessons. It might help to see other people cantering around. And also, you horse is not going to crash, a horse know where all of his/her feet are at all times and will not crash into another horse, jump standard, fence, person, etc. And if it makes you feel better, say Inside or outside as you canter by the other person.

azarni 04-18-2009 08:02 PM

Thanks StormyBlues. Last fall I did lots of group lessons, and although they were fun, I find that I can watch others ride in a private lesson just as easily because there are always others in the arena.
I realize the horse isn't going to crash. I just have irrelevant fears that have sprouted from nowhere.
We have a left-to-left shoulder policy where I ride, so that's not really an issue.
I dunno. At least I'm okay now when I canter Kemmel.

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