Originally Posted by Shortyhorses4me View Post
I'm just learning canter, and it tends to go fine at first but then the horse speeds up, usually because the other horse is. My trainer says grab mane, but I think that's when it goes south. I then lose rein contact and then hold on with my legs, and they go faster, etc. So I'm thinking if I can keep my reins and just try to keep the canter slow? I love it when it's slow, but I've fallen of a few times when they speed up, so it's hard not to panic when they do.
Worry about a fast canter often leads to a fast canter. As you mentioned, you hold on with your legs and the horse goes faster. In effect, your legs are telling the horse to go faster. Consider the following.
Any time you grip, you tense your muscles. When you tense your muscles more than absolutely necessary, you restrict the ability of your muscles to move freely. This, in turn, limits your ability to follow your horse’s movements and make the necessary adjustments to remain in balance.
It is sometimes difficult to keep from tensing your muscles unnecessarily, especially when first learning to ride. Singing, humming, and talking calmly to the horse can help. Purposely allowing and feeling your body move with the movements of your horse at the walk and trot can help make doing so at the canter more natural.
When you release unnecessary tension in your muscles and simply balance your head above your spine, your bones support your weight and your muscles can move more freely. At the same time, gravity is allowed to do its work. Gravity will pull your seat deep into the saddle. Gravity with wrap your legs gently around your horse’s sides eliminating and need to “hold on”. Gravity will pull your legs downward. Gravity will hold your feet to the stirrups. Gravity will draw your heels lower than your toes; this will eliminate the need to “push” your heels down which causes unnecessary muscular tension. Then, just allow your body to move with your horse as you balance your center of gravity over your horse’s center of gravity. This balance may alter the “uprightness” of your body depending on the speed of the horse; don’t worry about this – think balance.
As you practice what is described in the above paragraph, you will develop and independent seat. This means that your hands and body may be used to control your horse rather than simply “hold on”.