Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: southern Arizona
When I took western lessons, I asked about the cue for a canter. Everyone looked at me like I was from Mars, and then one replied, "Kick harder?"
From a western trail rider perspective, horses already know how to canter. All they need to know is that you want them to canter now. I was also told the "Turn the head to the outside" thing. The idea was, if you think of the horse as a rectangle, to shift the orientation of the rectangle so the inside front corner was ahead of the outside front corner, thus supposedly encouraging the horse to canter on the correct lead. I believe that is also the idea behind the "inside leg on the girth (in the normal position) outside leg behind the girth" teaching.
"Kissing for the canter helps them understand exactly what you are asking for, but generally, that is reserved for beginners."
That's why I'll always be a beginning rider! Kiss, to Bandit, means switch to a higher gear. "Easy" means either relax a little or shift down a gear. And if Bandit takes the wrong lead, we just counter-canter. I mean, really...cantering was not designed for going in circles! One canters to cover more ground in less time to get somewhere sooner. And we lean into turns!
Except that isn't equitation. It is just beginning riding...which is where I want to stay.
Still, if transitions bother you as a beginning rider, there is nothing too horrible about letting the horse take care of the transition while you get comfortable with the feel. Learning to ask for a specific lead, or to change leads, could be left for a later date. I"m past 11 years without feeling a great need for it.
Riders ask "How?" Horsemen ask "Why?"