Cantering fear - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 11 Old 04-27-2019, 04:08 PM Thread Starter
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Cantering fear

Hey! New here, not sure if this is the right place to post this, but I've been riding on and off for years now, and it's been almost a whole year since I started back again seriously. The place I go for lessons has a very small arena, so we normally do lessons on hacks.

A few months after I started, my instructor let me canter for the first time ever. It was always bouncy and I always felt unbalanced, but wasn't too scared usually (I think my best skill when it came to horse riding was my confidence!)

In February, me and another rider were let canter down a track while my instructor waited with a beginner for us to return. I agreed to go, even though deep down I doubted I was ready for such a long canter on a bouncy horse, but I decided to try it. The horses got excited and took off galloping, and eventually I fell. Me and my horse were okay, but when I had my next lesson a week later I had no confidence. It's April and I'm doing private weekly sessions, and I'm feeling more confident, but even if I'm trotting and feel any way out of control I get anxious.
I'm wondering if it might be best to ask to do a few strides of canter next week on
one of my instructors lesson horses, who has a really smooth canter, in the hopes that I won't be so worried about an unplanned one in the future, and to break the fear and it being such a big thing?

Also if anyone can suggest any tips to feel balanced in the canter, since most of my fear comes from being afraid of bounced off my horse every time they take a stride? 🙂
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post #2 of 11 Old 04-27-2019, 04:32 PM
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Deeper saddle could help. Relaxing into it. Being in an area with limited space (large circle - 20 meters or so) or with another rider that has control and can pony at a controlled canter to keep your horse in line (direction not temper). Being on a lunge line and having a couple of lunge lessons at a canter during your regular lesson. Focusing on breathing, singing quietly to yourself...
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post #3 of 11 Old 04-27-2019, 05:28 PM
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lol I learnt to canter on hacks too- its quite scary..
if I were you I would work on doing some sitting trot first, learning how to move your hips with the motion.
while cantering I would say to roll your butt under abit, like a scared dog, lean back a little bit and relax, if you have to click every stride, click every stride- just breath, hold on to your saddle if you have to, and enjoy the ride.

also- if your horse (I'm assuming its a school horse btw) is being used for hacking, with begginer riders, trust that your on a good sensible horse, and the gallop was a one off.

I would defiantly ask for the other horse though- you'd be surprised what a few good lessons can do to your confidence, I've been on a good streak recently and I'm pretty sure I subconsciously think I'm invincible ;)
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post #4 of 11 Old 04-27-2019, 05:52 PM
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Heather Moffett put a simulator video on youtube a number of years ago that shows what your hips and seat should be doing in a canter and why horses that are heavy on the forehand are so bouncy to ride. It's worth watching, even if it is a little dated footage age wise:
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post #5 of 11 Old 04-27-2019, 07:30 PM
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Well, don't go off cantering in ANY situation that ends up being like a race. That makes horses lose their minds, and trouble ensues.


Canter on the track, alone. pick up a canter, count out FIVE strides, then drop to a trot, then up to a cnater, five strides, back to trot. Get my drift?


It's being ABLE to slow , and restart, and slow your horse thatwill build your confidence . I've fallen off at canter 3 or 4 times. It's a darn hard landing, and can take months to recover one's willingness to try again.


You're in this for the longhaul, right? So, if it takes a few months, you won't sweat it, youi'll just keep going with confidence that it WILL get better.
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post #6 of 11 Old 04-27-2019, 08:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tinyliny View Post
Canter on the track, alone. pick up a canter, count out FIVE strides, then drop to a trot, then up to a canter, five strides, back to trot. Get my drift?
This also helps your horse learn collection by constantly doing upward and downward transitions. As they become more collected they will get less bouncy in the canter so following this advice will help you and the horse.
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post #7 of 11 Old 04-28-2019, 09:41 AM
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Hacks are just amazing and I'm glad you had a bolt and came out of it ok. I'm gonna assume that you aren't and wont be learning to hack out alone soon. There are several things to consider when hacking out with others. My instructor knows exactly which horses like the lead, which like to follow and which ones will try to race each other like **** idiots and who require the strongest and most experienced riders. In one ride there were around 9 of us and one of the horses was honking to RUN and we literally created a wall around him so he couldn't leggit anywhere coz if we let him go they all, 100%, would follow. One lady could control a horse that I otherwise couldn't. Really.. all this is what an instructor is for. While it's possible she made an error in judgement the honest truth is: it just sometimes happens.

-

Bear in mind that when you get scared your horse doesn't understand you're scared of them or their speed. If you're scared your horse will wonder what invisible monster you perceive is around that he/she should flee from. This really helped my thinking when I was learning to hack alone. I had a responsibility, like a parent to a child, to reassure my horse that everything is OK. It was unfair to dump all my worries on my horse coz naturally they'll just want to escape. It's a partnership remember? It's why lesson horses are special creatures but even lesson horses need some reassurance <3

-

The advice given about doing a few strides and coming back down is perfect, it's what I do with mine out solo, but in my experience lesson hacks, especially group ones, are done at the pace the instructor sets. So my advice to you would be, based off my own experiences and instruction:

1. when trotting and cantering do not let your horse over-take or ride alongside another. Do your best to keep it behind without trampling the horse in front. This was a steadfast rule that we had to keep to. If we couldn't control our horse, she would say that we were not invited to any more group hacks unless we had a private session with her first. Fair enough. To keep her lesson horses safe for inexperienced riders it was everyone's responsibility to ensure they didn't learn new bad habits, where possible of course.

2. when you're expecting to canter soon remember to take deep breaths and actively relax your body, give your horse a pat to let him/her know that it's OK. Sometimes I'd lean down while giving them a neck rub and say to them "hey, we're gonna have a fun canter in a minute but I don't wanna go too fast OK?" And then once cantering I would literally put all my trust in his training, his personality and my instructor and just enjoy it. When it came to coming back down I'd also say "hey, we're gonna stop now, please" sitting deep, and slowly asking instead of hanging onto his mouth or jabbing him sharply. I find that speaking helps communicate what you want physically, too. Clam up and suddenly the only thing you're communicating is that you're scared.

3. regarding bounciness - it's absolutely fine to prefer cantering outside on another horse. Adding in bounce is just yet another complication to something already a bit daunting. Don't feel bad about changing horses just remind yourself "we'll come back to this later, when my seat is better".


Good luck!
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post #8 of 11 Old 04-28-2019, 12:35 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks everyone! &#x1f642; All the advice so far makes sense, I'll try them next week and see how I feel during the session about a short canter! Feeling confident &#x1f60a;
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post #9 of 11 Old 04-28-2019, 02:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kalraii View Post
2. when you're expecting to canter soon remember to take deep breaths and actively relax your body, give your horse a pat to let him/her know that it's OK. Sometimes I'd lean down while giving them a neck rub and say to them "hey, we're gonna have a fun canter in a minute but I don't wanna go too fast OK?" And then once cantering I would literally put all my trust in his training, his personality and my instructor and just enjoy it. When it came to coming back down I'd also say "hey, we're gonna stop now, please" sitting deep, and slowly asking instead of hanging onto his mouth or jabbing him sharply. I find that speaking helps communicate what you want physically, too. Clam up and suddenly the only thing you're communicating is that you're scared.

Good luck!
THIS!!! some one I spoke to swore by telling her horse what she wanted it to do, a bit crazy- but what she said was to try and send it images in your head of how you wanted it to behave/what was coming up if it was a spooker ect.

it actually works so so well, I think its more to do with the fact your riding changes less- I read on another post about horses actually getting ready to bolt due to the rider taking up a stronger contact - so I think doing this prevents the riders behaviour from changing, which means the horse isn't clued in that it needs to react, staying calm instead.

(sorry its a bit off topic but I guess you can still apply this, as a lot of riders tend to tense up when asking for canter, which makes you bouncier, then making it 2x as hard to relax and have a smooth seat- as well as slowing down, not gripping or going into one of those super bouncy moments when trying to slow down)
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post #10 of 11 Old 04-28-2019, 03:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kalraii View Post
Sometimes I'd lean down while giving them a neck rub and say to them "hey, we're gonna have a fun canter in a minute but I don't wanna go too fast OK?" And then once cantering I would literally put all my trust in his training, his personality and my instructor and just enjoy it. When it came to coming back down I'd also say "hey, we're gonna stop now, please" sitting deep, and slowly asking instead of hanging onto his mouth or jabbing him sharply.
I'm curious now what kind of dialog others have with their horses, knowing full well they only recognize the emotional tension in your voice as cue, not what is actually being said.

For canter, with a visibly excited horse, waiting for my cue: "All right, go nuts!", with the most delicate of calf squeezes.

For down-transition: "Aaaaaaaaand trohhhht...trohhhht...", then "Aaaaaaand waaaalk...waaaaalk", accompanied by increasing inertia in my body and some wiggle action in the reins.

People only ever praise their horse after they are back to walking ("Thank you for not killing me!"). I started telling horses "Good boy/girl!" after a good up-transition, and if I can swing it, I even try scratch their neck. (Of course if you are posting, a gentle scratch at the withers is often the only feasibly reward.) In line of what you said, I also believe that a nice calm "Good boy!" right after the canter transition sets the tone for a nice calm canter.

Two-point, for the entire time or just as temporary relief, really helps with extraordinary bounciness at increased speeds or to collect yourself back into the rhythm.
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