Tips for canter? - Page 2 - The Horse Forum
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post #11 of 26 Old 02-27-2017, 12:59 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks everyone for your advice, he has had me work on two point over some trot poles but it never came to me to ask to try it a canter. I'm off the lunge for most the lesson and happily trotting across open fields I'm just not ready to canter freely.

I would ask to try a different horse for a bit, problem is this a very small place. It's a family run thing and their lesson horse selection is limited. I did try a different instructor who had many horses to work with and I really didn't enjoy it as much. This place I'm at doesn't have boarders so it completely focused on what you need to learn in your lessons. Teaching riding is more this guys hobby then his actual job (though he is a certified instructor I checked that) but he does consider the needs of each of his students and understands they are different,the lady who taught full time didn't really see her students as different people. I personally like having a sort of a friendship with my instructor I know some people think it should be all business but I like a little friendship, makes me feel like I'm actually welcomed not just another client to make money.

I watched another a friend canter Jodie (the horse) and it was just fine so I know it's me not Jodie. Jodie has a habit of slowing down when she feels her rider off balance, my guess is she feels me falling forward and slows down for me, she did the same when I was learning to trot. I know it's not her, or the instructor it's me. I'll get there, I had problems with my heels for the longest time now the instructor doesn't even have to say anything about them.
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post #12 of 26 Old 02-27-2017, 03:36 AM
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Hi. I was going to say that a really good school horse will stop if they feel the rider is off balance. They actually take care of the rider. There was a school horse I used to ride that I couldn't get to take up the canter at all. It was as if he was saying "Um, you are not ready for that." Once I got better control of my body I had no problems with him at all.

When the Dressage Trainer I work for gives me a lunge line lesson, she is the one controlling the horse. I am just working on my balance and seat etc. The last lunge lesson I had was a couple of days ago. She had me cantering with a whip in front of my elbows to keep my back straight and my position correct. The horse decided to do a sideways moves, (this is not the school horse I was speaking of) and when he did I got off balance and went to reach forward for the bucking strap and the whip sprung out from behind my back and bounced off his butt and then forward onto his shoulders before hitting the ground. I couldn't stop laughing about it. Lunge line lessons are great for building confidence and learning how to move your seat.

I learned to canter with lunge line lessons. After a while of that I had to canter around the arena without using the reins and with no stirrups. The other thing my trainer would do is have me canter on a loose rein and put one hand then the other above my head or make circles with my arms. She also would have me throw one leg off then the other.

Riding takes a long time to learn to do well. Even once you van ride well, you still have to continue to learn and improve. My trainer takes lessons.

Dressage takes forever to learn and even longer to get out of training level. It isn't for the impatient. It is very hard.

Good luck.
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post #13 of 26 Old 02-27-2017, 04:19 AM
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Sounds like you are fighting the movement.

What I would have my pupils do is to take their reins in one hand and insert two fingers under the pommel of the saddle and pull the saddle off the horses back. This gets you sitting deeper.
You need to be relaxed through your body and let the movement flow through. Stiffness will cause you to bounce just like if you jump in the air and land with stiff knees the jolt goes right through your body.
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post #14 of 26 Old 02-27-2017, 08:01 AM
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Hi Mumbles -- yes, you really need to be relaxed in your hips and your hip flexors. You need to sit on the "pockets of your pants" and keeping the pockets of your pants under you, you need to let you hips open and close from your hip flexors. It takes relaxation. But it also takes cooperative hip flexors!

Now, of course, that is much easier said than done!

When you're learning and the instructor has you in 2-point, you have your hip flexors counter to where you'll need them to be. When you're in 2-point, your hip flexors are closed (you're leaning forward bent from your hip flexors. In 2-point, your hip flexors stay in that closed position). When you're sitting on the pockets of your pants, you need to let the motion of your horse take your hip flexors through a reasonably full range of motion. They will close as she/he takes off, and then they will open to a peak point as the horse rolls out under you. (The horse is moving in a wave-like motion, and you need to move in that same wave-like motion.). Keeping your pants pockets under you, you need to allow your hip flexors to open and close with the wave motion.

Learning in 2-point is not a bad idea, as it gets you accustomed to the motion of the horse and the rhythm of the canter. However, you then need to sit down and let your hips go. That can be really difficult, because a lot of us have closed down hip flexors (especially if you work in front of a computer all day). So know that some of this is just physical -- if your hip flexors are tight, you have a true physical barrier to being able to move smoothly with the horse.

The school horse that you're riding sounds really lovely, and I do believe that she is working very hard to keep you balanced. She feels that you're not in balance with her motion, so she stops cantering. (I say this, because I know it first hand. I had this very same problem for a very long time. I even got to the point at which I was convinced that I just could not do it. I got psyched out!)

The only advice that I can offer is to stop 2-point (since you likely already are at the point at which you understand the rhythm of the gait) and then to try as hard as you can to relax your hip flexors while she canters under you. The more you can relax those hip flexors, the greater number of strides that she will be able to get before she stops. Each time you can get your hip flexors to move through the full range of motion is a time that your hips will start to loosen up and learn the movement (muscle memory). Over time, you'll start getting more and more strides. Then one day you'll suddenly realize that she's no longer stopping, and you'll be cantering!

Be very easy on yourself with this (e.g., don't get psyched out!). If you start to be mentally hard on yourself, your hip flexors are going to seize right up! (I still suffer from "the canter psych". If I ask for a canter and it doesn't got well, I instantaneously go into mental failure mode -- "I am not capable of cantering!" I get rigid and stuck. However, then I roll my eyes, laugh at myself, and relax. At that point, we can canter just fine.) So I warn you in advance not to do this to yourself. Be gentle with yourself now, and it will serve you well for all of your canters to come!

Good luck!
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post #15 of 26 Old 02-27-2017, 09:20 AM
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I'm just starting to canter too, so I'm glad you started this thread, it's really interesting. What has surprised me about cantering is how 'large' the movement is under the saddle, I feel thrown around on the horse.
Am I right that you need a strong back to move with the horse? I have back issues and think I tighten my lower back to protect it, which causes me to bounce as Foxhunter has pointed out.
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post #16 of 26 Old 02-27-2017, 04:17 PM
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it sounds that you are well situated in the place you are at. just relax and know that it will come, with time.
video! it will come in handy in a year or two , when you will have forgottne that you ever could NOT canter.
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post #17 of 26 Old 02-28-2017, 01:10 AM
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Ever heard the expression, "sitting tall in the saddle." Try that. And move your hips to the horse's rhythm. What about the length of your stirrups? If they are too short, that might interfere.
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post #18 of 26 Old 02-28-2017, 01:58 AM
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First a caveat. I've been around a some English, but have tried it maybe 2-3 times personally.

In my opinion the secret to the canter is riding from your mid thigh to your ribs. There is sort of an area from your lower back to below your seat that has to just flow with the horse.

Probably one of the harder parts of this to get the hang of is the upper body above the ribs. "Above the ribs" you should be quiet and sitting upright without much movement. When riding one handed I like to hold my free arm bent at about my sternum and just kind of roll with the rhythm. Some people call this the "West Texas Bob". It works great for me but I realize it is not your style of riding.

So in summary, I think the Canter is the gait to think "smooth", flowing, rhythm. In Western performance type riding we sometimes have people grab the back of the cantle to get the feel of it and then have them let go when they feel comfortable. Unless the horse is particularly rough (which some can be), the canter eventually feels smooth and comfortable once you get the timing and rhythm. I'd canter everywhere if it were realistic on some horses :)
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post #19 of 26 Old 02-28-2017, 02:29 AM
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Ride the butt (the horse's), not the front end.
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post #20 of 26 Old 02-28-2017, 03:03 AM
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I think what @jgnmoose is describing (English or Western)) is that you have to sort of divide your body in half; one part will go with the horse, and the other half will be under your control to keep upright and quiet.

the dividing line is the HIPS, not the waist. you will see a fair number of folks getting so 'busy' in their bodies because they try to absorb the motion in the waist. but, it is not the waist that is the breaking point. it is the hips.

that means that your seat, and your thighs , are like glued to the saddle. they will go anywhich way. but your body , the entirety of your spine and guts, will be in your own control. that means that you hold your abdominal muscles in, and you keep your shoulders back a bit.

but, more importantly , you ALLOW your body from the hips downward to be moved by the horse.

many people have trouble with this seperation. I have trouble with it. but, this is your ultimate goal.
if you are doing a whole lot of movement in the WAIST, you are not doing it correctly.

a lot of folks will disagree with that, but it's the God's honest truth. the seperation point between what belongs to 'the horse' and what belongs to 'the rider' is the HIPS, not the waist.

think about this.
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