question about cantering - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 8 Old 01-10-2014, 10:30 AM Thread Starter
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question about cantering

Due to the holidays I didn't have a lesson for 4 weeks, and I went back yesterday. Now I rode a horse I hadn't ridden in a while, and being cold out he was more fresh than usual. Had to constantly half halt him at the trot because he was so eager to go forward forward forward...

At the canter it felt like he was very fast, "springy" and his strides powerful, and so I had some trouble (and was slightly scared because my balance wasn't as great as usual). I have always had a problem with canters like this. Horses who are really smooth, I don't have a problem. But those powerful and quick canters... I am left feeling not so stable and secure.

During my lesson I would try to keep my feet correctly in the stirrups, making sure I put lots of weight in them. Now I tried to put my heels down and not so much "lean" on them, because I know that would result in me rising out of the saddle, but no matter what I did I felt the canter was so "bouncy". I felt like I had a hard time sitting with my behind glued, while also keeping my heels really down. Felt like i had to choose between really sitting without caring for my heels, or care about my heels being down, resulting in feeling more out of place in my seat.

If anyone could clear this for me by describing what one is suppose to feel or do to keep those heels down while siting the canter, all while feeling like the horse is not springing us back constantly, I would really appreciate it. Also when doing a half seat I felt unstable...maybe my knees we're not springy enough to absorb all the momentum?

I don't know I see videos of cross country riders and they look so still, so secure, and I feel far from it. Now I know this is mostly due to lacking muscle strength, but is it perhaps also my technique?

I'm sorry I don't have a video, my dad was out shopping for groceries during my ride, but thank you if you are able to make sense of my descriptions.

A ride a day keeps the worries away!

Last edited by Hidalgo13; 01-10-2014 at 10:32 AM. Reason: correcting
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post #2 of 8 Old 01-10-2014, 11:31 AM
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I like'n it to a rocking motion. Naturally, some will have more than others.

Some of your issue could be that you get nervous and tense up, making it even more difficult to go with your horse's rhythm.

The sensitivity of the internet baffles me.
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post #3 of 8 Old 01-10-2014, 12:31 PM Thread Starter
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That is a very possible explanation. I was feeling worried because my horse was going faster than I would like, so tensing up without me noticing makes a lot of sense.

A ride a day keeps the worries away!
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post #4 of 8 Old 01-10-2014, 05:15 PM
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Also, if a horse goes in faster canter, and you feel you are unable to sit in it, it is better for the both of you to raise into a half sit - as in you are more like standing up, rather than sitting - you don't bounce on his back, and it can give some stability feeling.

Other than that, feeeeel the weight sink in your heels and practice makes perfect.

P.S. It is not actually your knees that absorb the movement, it is your whole leg - I feel how my bum closes up to the saddle and raises up with every stride - its a light seat, when you allow all your leg to do most the work - for people with back pains it can be helpful when canter gets too uncomfortable..
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post #5 of 8 Old 01-10-2014, 05:31 PM
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When you begin to feel as though you are losing control, (they go faster than you'd like or your balance is off) it's likely that you are feeling anxious and your body isn't relaxed. For me, I get a super dose of adrenaline and I start to shake.

But feeling unbalanced in 2-point.. likely you need to build that strength. Warm up in two point at the walk before you get to work during your lesson.

I think it's better to keep your seat than worry about heels up or down. Once you can keep your seat, then start playing around with your position until you're using every limb and each seat bone in the most effective way possible.

In time with practice you'll get better at it :)
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"Strength is the ability to use a muscle without tension"
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post #6 of 8 Old 01-11-2014, 09:36 AM
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I find that what has helped me a lot with my balance at the canter was using my heels as more of a shock absorber. While they should be down all the time, you need to relax your ankle so that you can deepen or lessen the weight in your heels as the horse moves.

Perhaps your stirrups are too long? If you have a hard time keeping weight in them and you have to be choosing between your seat and your heels, putting them a notch higher might help you keep your weight in them. That was another one of my problems - floaty stirrups that I would keep losing.
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post #7 of 8 Old 01-11-2014, 11:38 AM
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Maybe lunge before so the horse doesn't have as much energy. Also, try your half seat in the canter. I know for me, it helps me keep my feet in the right spots on the stirrups.
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post #8 of 8 Old 01-17-2014, 06:46 PM
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I second two point the canter. I had a bouncy horse and would practice this - it helped my legs become more solid.

If you are deep in your seat, the fact is your leg should be able to stretch down - this goes hand and hand. I remember once when i was cantering I "lost my stirrup" - well - not really since my foot was IN the stirrup... but there was no weight in it. Afterwards, I realized that my leg was longer than the stirrup.. so physics dictated that i should have been able to put weight down. Why couldn't i? I must be gripping somewhere in my leg... if I relax my leg.. it will fall into the stirrup and i can flex it.

Once this light bulb went off (that if it wasn't down it was my fault for gripping because my leg was longer than the stirrup) - it helped a lot.

Of course to relax your leg and not grip, you kind of just have to canter a bunch. or relax, but it will feel super bouncy at first until you get used to the rhythm. so.. like everything it's just ride more ride more ride more. :)
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