Bouncing at the canter - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 17 Old 12-04-2019, 02:26 PM Thread Starter
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Bouncing at the canter

I've been working more on cantering lately. Now that I'm spending more time on it, I notice that I'm bouncing a lot, especially on Teddy. It seems like what happens is that I get a little out of rhythm and next thing you know I'm just bouncing all over him.

I'm going to hopefully be working on this with an instructor, but what I'm wondering is how bad this is for my horses. I would estimate that they are being cantered right now twice a week, for not more than five minutes a day. Will this amount of bouncing hurt them? I feel like I'm killing poor Teddy, but at the same time I need to learn how to do this, and there's going to be a learning curve. I could work on it on the lesson pony, but I feel like she is terribly overworked and I can't bring myself to ride her.
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post #2 of 17 Old 12-04-2019, 02:38 PM
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One thing to try that works really well with my 4-H kids--- try posting to the canter. Up one stride, down the next like polo players do. There's videos online to help you learn it--key is letting the horse's rhythm help you up and then down. Once you can feel that and post in rhythm, you can often then feel it well-enough to sit the canter easily. If even that's a struggle, go into two-point for the canter like you would if riding a jumper. Then sit for five strides and back up. Gradually sit for more strides.

Most people who find the canter difficult to sit are overly tense. Also check your saddle fit. If your saddle is too small for your rear, you'll find yourself shoved forward by the cantle with every stride, and bounce. Depending on your weight, you may find going up to a larger seat size makes all the difference. If you're bouncing hard, it can be uncomfortable for your horse. If the horse doesn't seem to mind, then you're probably ok and the more you canter, the better you will get at it. If part of the problem is that your horse's canter is not steady, learning on a lesson horse who moves like a metronome will help immensely.
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post #3 of 17 Old 12-04-2019, 02:54 PM
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The movement of a canter is similar to a rocking chair, practice at home to rock a chair only by using your seat. Then focus on that movement on the horse. Plus relax, can't move with the horse if tense.
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post #4 of 17 Old 12-04-2019, 03:07 PM Thread Starter
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Pony doesn't seem to mind overall. Believe me, he lets me know when he minds something. But I don't bounce so much on him because he has a little tiny pony step and just isn't that bouncy. Teddy is more bouncy, but he's the kind of horse who just does what he's told and would probably hide his pain. He lets you know if something is bothering him mentally, but not if something is bothering him physically.

I guess I will just keep working on it and hoping that I'm not hurting them. At least i don't weigh very much.

ETA: yeah, we're still working on Pony having a nice even canter. Teddy's is great, though. I know I said it's bouncier, and it is, but overall it's just really smooth and nice.
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post #5 of 17 Old 12-04-2019, 04:09 PM
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Two things have helped me a lot, though I still have bouncy days:

-Lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots of sitting the trot without stirrups. With a long, RELAXED leg -- rather than trying to hold it where you would with your stirrups. Let your thigh hang down long, and keep everything loose, especially from the knee down. At the same time, think of using your lower abs to keep the front of your pelvis lifted. Will improve your balance, your core strength, and open your hips. All of which will help your canter.

-Think of the canter like opening and closing a book. Sounds weird, but bear with me. Your upper body is one side of the open book, your hips and seat bones are the spine of the book, and the shoulders and neck of the horse out in front of you are the other side of the open book. On the lift part of the canter, the book closes a bit. On the down portion, the book opens wider. Maybe I'm nuts but that came to me one day and I rode a really awesome, deep, connected canter as I pictured that. Sometimes thinking of things in weird, abstract, metaphorical terms works wonders.
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post #6 of 17 Old 12-04-2019, 05:35 PM
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My mare super bouncy what you can do to cheat is walk > sitting trot > canter in corner. No posting between. If you lose balance back to sitting then ask again next corner. Horses are just amazing with their tolerance... but from what you said as long as they don't have issues I'd not be worried. My mare gets more "abuse" than that a week lmao. BUT I REMIND HER ITS HER FAULT FOR HAVING A LOVELY TROT.. TO VIEW lmao!!
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post #7 of 17 Old 12-04-2019, 05:45 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Kalraii View Post
My daughter's horse, Moonshine, is the same way. Her trots looks beautiful! But you think you're going to get ejected from the saddle each step.
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post #8 of 17 Old 12-04-2019, 07:10 PM
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Have you mastered a sitting trot on Teddy or any of your horses who have a jarring trot gait?
Mastering or near mastering a sitting trot your body learns to use your spine as a shock absorber...
Once your "shock absorber" is functioning better, I found it easier to copy the relaxation the spine must do to get with and sit than to fight and get a beating on your butt.
You also can make yourself breathe, breathe deeply and that may also help you to relax and loosen those tight muscles...
Sing, yup is a relaxer of tight muscles and slightly distracting and suddenly it all comes together.
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post #9 of 17 Old 12-04-2019, 08:55 PM
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Originally Posted by horselovinguy View Post
You also can make yourself breathe, breathe deeply and that may also help you to relax and loosen those tight muscles...
Sing, yup is a relaxer of tight muscles and slightly distracting and suddenly it all comes together.
I tend to tighten up at the canter and bounce too. A lot of it depends on how much I trust the horse. A really steady eddy horse, I can canter all nice and loose, close my eyes or drop my reins and ride like Alec on the Black. On a horse I don't trust, I am all bracey and bouncy.

Anyway, about the breathing. A funny thing happened one time riding with a friend. We were out on the trails and were cantering next to each other in an open field. We are talking and I don't even remember what the conversation was, but she was like "Do you know most people can't carry on a conversation while cantering because they hold their breath?" Well, no, I didn't know that. But she a good rider soI took that as quite a compliment. But apparently, according to her, talking while cantering can be difficult for many people. I think singing would be an excellent idea.

What I find interesting about cantering is that I find my breathing moves with the motion of the horse. When a horse canters or gallops, his guts move back and forth and pushes the diaphragm helping him breath. When I am cantering I find I am also breathing with the horse's rhythm. I don't know if everyone does that........I would imagine it would be hard not to. But once I realized that, I thought it was pretty cool.

I think it takes YEARS to canter well. I've been riding for 20+ years and I find myself STILL bracing at the canter. It's like I brace by default and then have to remind myself to polish the saddle with my butt.
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post #10 of 17 Old 12-04-2019, 09:21 PM
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Horses should be cantered more, not less. Doing a lot of it makes them not just in shape but good looking, quiet and nice to be around. Don't worry at all about that. A horse should be cantered (loped) about 20 minutes a day before you ask them to do serious work in my opinion. This is an animal that does 10+ miles a day from the day they are born in the wild...

Bouncing at the canter means you are not moving your hips in time or in rhythm with the horse. Simple as that.

I try to tell people that the movement is from their mid-thigh to their ribs. That area should be fluid and flexible, like salsa dancing. At very high levels you can control the horse's speed with that movement, as a rider who has work to do on their skill at the canter think of it as a dance where you want to be in time with the horse.

Don't be frustrated or give up. When it clicks for you, it will be something like riding a bike. Until then you are finding your balance timing and rhythm. That is completely normal and natural. Let it take the time it takes and you will be a better rider when your confidence is there.

In my opinion canter more, and let your body learn what to do as I said above.
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