Canter Transition Terrifies Me - Page 2 - The Horse Forum
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post #11 of 28 Old 11-15-2019, 07:09 PM
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Originally Posted by A-Rider-Called-Carvide View Post
So, I have to ask. At my Jumper barn, I was just taught to straighten my horse, kick behind the girth on the outside, kiss and say 'Canter' with possibly a tap from the whip. (Depending on the horse I'm riding)

Which one would you say is more correct?

I've wanted to switch to that barn for a while, but I have friends at my main barn, like the OTHER trainers there, and love the horses. Plus my mom loves it (and is friends with like, everyone there.) And they've offered me a lease, which I find is pretty suspicious, like - I find a new barn and now they offer me a lease? Blah.
If you are riding saddleseat, many people and trainers in the discipline cue the way you are describing.
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post #12 of 28 Old 11-15-2019, 08:58 PM
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@bsms , I still kiss for the canter too, and consider myself very much a beginner even though I've been riding for many years. I guess I was just mentioning that because some coaches frown on kissing, especially when riders begin to show. My daughter, who has been riding competitively for 8 years, never kisses, but then again, she and her horse are almost telepathic so she doesn't have to do much for him to canter. I just threw that in there in case the OP's instructor preferred her riders not to kiss.

To me, vocal cues make it clear and simple, and horses learn them pretty easily. But in a show ring, judges prefer cues to be invisible, thus the preference for subtlety. I don't think there's anything wrong with vocal cues, personally though.
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post #13 of 28 Old 11-15-2019, 10:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bsms View Post
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?"
Oh I can imagine
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post #14 of 28 Old 11-16-2019, 11:46 AM
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Originally Posted by Acadianartist View Post
...But in a show ring, judges prefer cues to be invisible, thus the preference for subtlety....
I never took a LOT of lessons, although I took SOME a variety of times. I also watch and read advice to beginning riders. What follows is a pet peeve but I also think it is kind of important:

When we teach math, we don't start with algebra. We start with very simple adding. Even multiplying comes later. We accept people cannot dive into math at algebra or geometry.

When we teach new riders - "we" being what I've seen others do - we insist on trying to "teach them right" from the beginning. I took a package of lessons in the 70s. The instructor emphasized "toes front". I'm not sure she KNEW any other riding principle. Toes front HAS a purpose for some types of riding. I don't do it even now, but I understand for some riding it seems to be important.

But for a beginning rider?

I've had instructors tell me a "long leg" was good. I bounced back and forth between the "Baby Bear", "Momma Bear" and Pappa Bear" setting for a long time, with Momma Bear being my most common. Over some years, my most common drifted to the Poppa Bear setting, and I recently dropped them another inch - and LIKE it. The "Grandpa Bear" setting.

But a beginner, depending on their flexibility, may NEED the "Baby Bear" setting. What I am doing now is not wrong. Bandit & I like it so it is right enough for us. But a beginning rider doesn't need it, and trying to stretch their leg while riding means they lose focus on more important things - balance, the rhythm of the horse, their horse's attitude, how to feel at one with their horse.

I agree many riders SHOULD learn to cue a canter to a specific lead. Doesn't interest me much, but it is pretty important in some types of riding. When Bandit takes the wrong lead for a circle in the arena...a counter-canter isn't my favorite thing to ride! Good practice for us both, in a way, but not very enjoyable. That is OK for me because cantering IS a way to go farther faster for Bandit & I, and the rocky terrain here means we will never canter a mile. Probably not a half-mile. That might change if we move to Utah.

So learning how to cue your horse to canter on a given lead - and how to teach that cue to a horse - really IS a part of good equitation. It is just one Bandit & I don't need right now. And a LOT of beginning riders don't need it either.

If someone feels uncomfortable with a canter transition done ANY way, then they need to learn the feel of the horse's transition and the feel of a horse cantering before worrying about how to cue for a right lead canter. Learn to ride the transition with a smile and have FUN cantering with their horse. THEN take their riding up a notch. If they want. I may. Someday.

Riders ask "How?" Horsemen ask "Why?"
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post #15 of 28 Old 11-16-2019, 05:01 PM
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@bsms - I agree, mostly.

My personal pet peeve is trot diagonal. People who ride alongside kids’ lessons keep hearing this all the time: “Wrong diagonaaaaal!”. I just find it completely unnecessary. These kids (and adults) are flopping all over on either diagonal, it makes zero difference either to them or the horse. Sure, once they get to a certain stage - introduce the concept, show them the difference and let them decide to use it or not. Most people will start changing automatically once they get to a certain point anyway.

There are some things which should be drilled in from the beginning. Scrunched up core a.k.a. “Heels down” should not be overlooked but rather focused on in my opinion. I just have a problem with the way it’s approached. Just saying “Heels down” does nothing. Heels are up because the rider is trying to curl into a fetal position, with tense front part of core muscles. So, after being shouted at, they will shove their heels down and that’s even worse, curled over the pommel with tense legs in an unnatural position. Get the rider to uncurl and heels will be where they need to be.

Disclaimer: I am not an amazing rider, nor an instructor. Just an observer.
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post #16 of 28 Old 11-16-2019, 05:08 PM
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@bsms , what I was trying to explain to the OP is that perhaps her coach doesn't encourage riders to kiss because she prefers that they don't rely on overt cues like that. There may also be a concern that the horse needs to respond to other cues because even if the OP never shows, someone else might want to show on the same horse and not have to use the kissing cue. I use it at home on my horse because I will never show so it doesn't matter. Though I am gradually making the cues more subtle as he understands better what I am asking.

I agree that beginner riders should be taught differently and may need to do things that wouldn't be tolerated in a more advanced rider. However, there is also the danger of creating a bad habit that will be hard to correct later on. I think it's possible to have fun with your horse and still ride correctly. If you want to do things your way, that's fine, but I just watched my daughter canter her horse bareback in the snow just for fun, and she was having no problems with cues or with correct leg and seat position because she's been in lesson for 8 years. She still loves to ride him for fun. Riding correctly and enjoying the ride are not mutually exclusive is what I'm trying to say.
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post #17 of 28 Old 11-16-2019, 07:26 PM
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"she was having no problems with cues or with correct leg and seat position because she's been in lesson for 8 years"

Gotta disagree with this, potentially. What IS a correct canter cue? Answer (IMHO): Whatever the horse was taught. So for Bandit, the correct canter cue is to lean a little forward and kiss. He won't CARE what your legs do. Seat position? Again, what IS "correct"? What VS Littauer taught - including when he taught Bernie Traurig - is quite different to the seat I've evolved. Which differs from my daughter's as well. Differs from a dressage seat and a traditional western seat. So what your daughter was doing was working fine for her and her horse (Yea!), that doesn't mean it was NECESSARY for good riding.

There are a LOT of seat positions that work fine at a canter, include no seat (standing in the stirrups), half-seat, long legs or short legs, heels down or not. "Correct" doesn't have an answer unless you define "for what?"

Some schools of though abhor a horse leaning into the turn (and notice where his toes point and his heels not being down, feet in the home position, etc):


Others say it is OK if your HORSE leans, but NEVER lean with him - an idea my avatar makes obvious I reject. Maybe that goes back to my motorcycle riding days.

So if someone wants to show, there may be ONE way only. But for a beginner who hasn't decided on a specialty, there may be many ways to solve the puzzle. And in any case, many of the things instructors tend to insist on - like "heels down" - may be physically impossible for the new rider. I tend to ride with heels down but I've long since concluded it isn't very important. One of my favorite riding videos is a 4 time world champion barrel racer riding in slow motion. About the only thing she did right was...win 4 world championships!


I think it raises a question: Is good equitation about enabling the horse? Is it about balance? How many rules are focused on what benefits the horse's performance versus what people expect or like to see? That then leads to questioning how many rules we teach new riders to prevent bad habits when they may not be bad habits at all.

If I could go back in time, I wish nobody had told me to worry about where my toes point, to get my heels down, to try to get my horse "straight", etc. They aren't bad, but I'd have had a much more relaxed leg and been much more focused on balance and rhythm if I hadn't been trying to ride good...

Riders ask "How?" Horsemen ask "Why?"
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post #18 of 28 Old 11-16-2019, 08:59 PM
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I wasn't suggesting that there's only one way to ride @bsms , I was saying that my daughter's ability to communicate with her horse effectively, ride in a way that enables her horse to move in a balanced way, and still maintain a seat and leg position that would be considered correct in a show ring do not exclude the possibility of having an enjoyable "fun" ride. I'm sorry lessons were so unpleasant for you, but they're not like that for everyone. I have found that riding under the eyes of a coach help me enjoy my riding more because I see clear improvement in things that are important to me. She can also provide solutions to issues that come up since she has vastly more experience than I ever will. So when I told her I was having terrible pain in my calf after riding, she told me to point my toes OUT. Yes, that's right. She knows I will never show, and knows that at my age, it's important to be comfortable. I appreciate her knowledge and experience, and have come to respect her tremendously. Your style of riding may work very well for you, but suggesting that there is no right way leaves the door open for a lot of wrong ways. Though again -- to be clear, since you'll probably be quoting my last sentence again -- I'm not saying there's ONE right way, just that I'm not sure it's a good idea to suggest that the new riders should just do whatever feels easier/more natural. In my experience, it IS useful to have advice from someone who has vastly more experience and knowledge.
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post #19 of 28 Old 11-16-2019, 09:43 PM
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I think everyone already mentioned what I wanted to say, but here is what I would do in your situation.

First, to understand the mechanics of the canter depart is important and may help you visualize why we ask for a canter depart a certain way.
The first step of the canter always starts with the outside hind leg and is a moment of lift. When the horse has its head bent to the outside in the canter depart, it is more difficult to put weight onto the outside hind vs when they are looking to the inside and able to shift their weight to the outside. Thus, we try to prepare the horse for this transition by pushing (with the inside leg at girth) their weight to the outside and 'standing the horse up' with a steady outside rein. The action of the inside rein is dependent on what the horse is doing. It may be neutral if the horse is balanced, it might lift for a time if the horse leans in or it may just maintain flexion to the inside.



Since the outside hind is the first step into canter, the main cue for the canter is to move the outside leg behind the girth, which asks for the outside hind to step under. This also moves our outside seat bone back behind our inside seat bone (making it look like our inside hip is pushed forward). Your hips and shoulders should also pivot slightly to the inside to indicate direction of travel.




Now for the anxiety, I would perhaps try having your instructor give you a private lunge lesson in the canter a few times, so you can become more comfortable with the departure and not have to worry about steering. You could have your instructor ask the horse to canter the first few times until you get a feel of the movement, then try yourself.

You could also try asking for the canter from the walk to slow down cues.
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post #20 of 28 Old 11-16-2019, 10:45 PM
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This is a very interesting post. It can help the rider to understand the mechanics of the canter, to be able to visualize it. I think it's a lot to ask of a beginning rider, though. But that's just my opinion. I would, however, for academic enjoyement and engagement, like to adress some points of your response, in red.





Quote:
Originally Posted by Jolly101 View Post
I think everyone already mentioned what I wanted to say, but here is what I would do in your situation.

First, to understand the mechanics of the canter depart is important and may help you visualize why we ask for a canter depart a certain way.
The first step of the canter always starts with the outside hind leg and is a moment of lift.Actually, the horse can transition into a canter from a trot by either lifting from the back outside (if cantering in an arc) leg, OR by falling forward onto his front leading leg. We only call that 'falling' because in the cycle of the canter , when the leading front leg hits the ground, the horse will have a slightly downhill orientation, right before reaching foward again with that 'lifting' outside hind.



The skilled rider, who wants a lifting canter depart, will know exactly when that outside hind is about to leave the ground, in the walk or trot, and cue with his/her outisde leg to ask that outside hind to reach further under, and with greater reach, just as you say. This is , in equitation terms, a more desireable canter depart than when the horse trots faster, and changes into a canter stride with the front legs leading the change, wherein there is a sensation that the horse is 'falling' into the canter. Both are canter departs, as far as the horse is concerned.When the horse has its head bent to the outside in the canter depart, it is more difficult to put weight onto the outside hind vs when they are looking to the inside and able to shift their weight to the outside.I'm not sure I agree with this, either. An UNWEIGHTED leg is the one that can be lifted and moved, not a weighted leg. But, yes, if you put the horse's weight onto the outside, and he WAS previously weighting his inside hind, he will literally be forced to move his leg UNDER the weight . However, the rider should not shift either his own, or the horse's weight that much. Thus, we try to prepare the horse for this transition by pushing (with the inside leg at girth) their weight to the outside and 'standing the horse up' with a steady outside rein. The action of the inside rein is dependent on what the horse is doing. It may be neutral if the horse is balanced, it might lift for a time if the horse leans in or it may just maintain flexion to the inside.



Since the outside hind is the first step into canter, the main cue for the canter is to move the outside leg behind the girth, which asks for the outside hind to step under. This also moves our outside seat bone back behind our inside seat bone (making it look like our inside hip is pushed forward). Your hips and shoulders should also pivot slightly to the inside to indicate direction of travel.
I heard a top level dressage instruction say that your hips should mirror the positioning of your horse's hips, when he is cantering, and your shoulders should mirror the horse's shoulders. He said that we tend to think that the horse is in an 'arc', but it's more like the horse is 'jumping' over a fence he created , at the canter, by putting down both his inside hind and outside front at the same time, then sort of falling forward onto his inside, leading, front leg, as if jumping over a small fence. And when he does this, his inside shoulder is advanced, and so should the shoulder of the rider.

This was totally counter intuitive to me, but often when a rider is overworking or pumping a canter, by bringing the OUTSIDE shoulder back a bit from the inside (the human's shoulders) the canter more smoothly matches horse and human skeletons.
Strange, right?


ALL this has nothing to do with the OP learning to feel less fearful about canter departs. It's just horse forum expounding, for fun.




Now for the anxiety, I would perhaps try having your instructor give you a private lunge lesson in the canter a few times, so you can become more comfortable with the departure and not have to worry about steering. You could have your instructor ask the horse to canter the first few times until you get a feel of the movement, then try yourself.

You could also try asking for the canter from the walk to slow down cues.
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