Can't canter without bouncing - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 23 Old 05-22-2020, 12:01 AM Thread Starter
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Can't canter without bouncing

This has been so frustrating. I am trying to learn to canter, on my horse. I had a tiny bit of cantering on some other horses, it was ok, I don't remember bouncing as much. Been working at it now for a few months, it just seems to get worse. A couple times when I managed to relax everything I can just sit and not bounce. But other times that doesn't work either. I've done it on the lunge but still bounce. Sometimes when i manage to canter circles its better, but it's also hard to do a circle as well.

Things that seem to make it better is leaning back, relaxing my glutes/back thigh, heels down. But it's so difficult to do anything when I am bouncing around right away. I also have to convince my horse to keep going even though he wants to slow down cuz I'm off balance. I feel like I want to give up on canter or I need to take lessons with someone else who can give me better pointers. I dont think continuing to reinforce what's not working is a good idea, not sure if just more practice is going to help.
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post #2 of 23 Old 05-22-2020, 12:23 AM
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People who look so relaxed at canter , like they are doing nothing, are actually doing something; they are engaging the core muscles, and moving WITH the horse, with their abdomen. They may have relatively loose legs, but their core is working.

Some people use the anology of 'painting' the saddle with your butt' , which would require you to move your but along, rythmically, as the horse moved.
That can help.
The thing that helped me, and others, the most is to think of going DOWN with the horse, when the horse is going 'down' in the canter stride. I've described this a dozen times on this site, but here goes . . . . The horse's canter has basically 3 beats, with a moment of rest before repeating those 3 beats again. Let's call beat#1 as the strike off beat; the outside hind hits the ground. #2 is the inside hind and outside front hitting at the same time, and #3 is the inside front, the 'leading' leg, hitting the ground with the other legs coming off the ground as . . . the horse has a moment of suspension and repeats the sequence.


At #3, when the leading leg is hitting the ground, the horse is in it's most 'downward' position, as if it were going down a hill. You need to canter a bit, find that position by feel, and start really thinking about your pelvis following DOWN with just that beat of the canter . All other beats allow your horse to move you, but on the 'down' beat really think about your seat bones and pubic bone trying to go all the way down into and through the hrose's body, to the ground.


try it.
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post #3 of 23 Old 05-22-2020, 12:59 AM
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Rock, or plan on polishing the saddle. The horse's rear lifts higher than the withers, then the withers lift. So the back is rocking back and forth, very different from a trot. So don't try to be steady in the saddle. People talk about not moving in the saddle but they do:


In a trot, the horse's back stays relatively flat as it goes up and down. In the canter, it acts more like a teeter totter:


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post #4 of 23 Old 05-22-2020, 02:12 AM
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This isn’t the correct way to learn (and most of forum members will agree) but I had the same problem for years - three to be precise, I am embarrassed to admit. The only way I managed to learn is to learn in two point, practice in two point a lot, and from two point gradually get down in the saddle. When following the movement in two point became automatic I didn’t have any issues sitting it either. It took a few months. But I was a particularly untalented, stiff middle aged beginner.

The problem most people have with this approach is that they think that you will always want to canter in two point if you learn in two point, but it wasn’t an issue for me. I now mainly canter sitting down. I have to say, if I don’t ride for a long time I feel much more comfortable in two point for a month or two, both in trot and canter. I don’t really have a problem with that, seeing that I don’t show and only ride for fun. I am currently riding almost exclusively in two point because I had a six month break due to an injury and then this blasted plague.
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post #5 of 23 Old 05-22-2020, 10:06 AM
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I've been riding mostly regularly for 4 years and I am still working on the canter. One point that "clicked" for me a couple of weeks ago is also how important it is to get the transition right. If the transition is rushed or messy, it can start you off bouncing and unbalanced. Are you starting from trot or from walk? If you are starting from trot, make sure you are truly sitting that trot, half-halting very clearly, and that the horse is essentially rocking right into canter, not running into it. If you sit that first rock, you're setting yourself up for success and in time with your horse.

I am always way more bouncy when I've let her run into it and find myself bracing as a passenger, instead of an active part of the motion, or if I was still posting even a little bit, because I was never matching her rhythm to begin with.
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post #6 of 23 Old 05-22-2020, 10:20 AM
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Hi Shortyhorses4me. I think you’ve already realized the biggest problem you have when cantering – tension.

If you tense your muscles, your body cannot move as smoothly to follow the motions of your horse. The saddle drops from beneath your seat only to come back up and smack into it. Complete collapse of the muscles, is not the answer. You can learn to release unnecessary tension in your muscles while still keeping them active.

Gravity helps a balanced rider maintain her balance and follow the motion of her horse moving in the canter. Someone who has experienced sitting in a rowboat – or, better yet, a canoe – facing oncoming waves often grasps the concept easily. If you tense your muscles, you must hold on tightly in an effort to not be tossed to and fro. By releasing tension, you can allow gravity to draw your center of balance lower. Then, your upper body can more easily make necessary adjustments to maintain balance.

When riding without unnecessary tension, the rider allows gravity to hold her seat deep in the saddle, keep her legs wrapped gently around her horse’s sides, and hold her feet in the stirrups. Then, she can allow her body to flow with the movements of her horse.

Her relaxed (read “relaxed” as “without unnecessary tension”) pelvis follows the down, forward, up, down, forward up flow of the saddle while her upper body makes the necessary adjustments to remained balanced above her center of gravity. The joints of her relaxed arms extend as the motion of her horse’s head draws her hands forward; gravity draws her elbows back beneath her shoulders as her horse’s head retracts.

It is good that your horse has been slowing to keep your unbalanced body from falling off. As you release tension and follow your horse’s movements, the horse should be encouraged to continue in this same motion without additional effort on your part.
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post #7 of 23 Old 05-22-2020, 12:45 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bsms View Post
Rock, or plan on polishing the saddle. The horse's rear lifts higher than the withers, then the withers lift. So the back is rocking back and forth, very different from a trot. So don't try to be steady in the saddle. People talk about not moving in the saddle but they do:


In a trot, the horse's back stays relatively flat as it goes up and down. In the canter, it acts more like a teeter totter:


I don't think I realized the back end comes up like that, thank you! When the back end comes up, is that when you lean back/move your hips forward?
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post #8 of 23 Old 05-22-2020, 12:55 PM
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Oh man. I had the worst bounce in canter when I started riding again, after 16 years off. It took me two and a half years of really really regular riding to get past it. And if I have a long break, or an off day, the bounce comes back!

Things that helped:

Lots and lots and lots of trotting without stirrups. Both rising trot and sitting trot. And doing this with a very long, relaxed leg and thigh as straight down as I could manage. It helped my core strength and helped to open my hips.

Also, watching videos of advanced riders sit the canter, and seeing how they moved, and where they moved vs. didn't move.

The other visual that occurred to me one day, and really helped, was thinking of my hands and body opening and closing like a book along with the motion. I pictured my hip joint as the spine of the book, and when it "opened" my upper body would open back and hands and lower body would open down. When the horse's front end lifted, the book would close a bit, then reopen again on the down portion.

The other thing... "Just relax into it" is advice given by advanced, strong riders who feel like that's all they have to do because they have the strength and muscle memory to make it *feel* relaxed. But if you just relax before you have all that in place... yeah, it won't work. At all. You have to have all the building blocks in place before that's going to happen.

And on some horses.... wellll... they're just bouncier. It might not be possible to get ALL the bounce out, ever, and so you just do the best you can with what you've got.
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post #9 of 23 Old 05-22-2020, 12:56 PM Thread Starter
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All of this is very helpful folks, thank you! I really do sort of freeze everything up curl forward. At the moment I can canter from walk, trot or tolt, I've been trying to stick to from walk right now. I started learning canter by doing sort of a half seat, not true two point, just sort standing in the stirrups. So now I'm trying to learn to sit.
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post #10 of 23 Old 05-22-2020, 05:41 PM
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your horse is an icelandic? my experience with many gaited horses is that the canter can feel really discombobulated. Have you tried cantering on a non-gaited horse?


btw, don't take this as 'dissing' Icelandics. I think they're peachy!
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