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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm a beginner ride who can w/t/c fine. I know my diagonals when I'm rising to the trot and I'm focusing on foot falls lately. I've also been working on turning on the forehand and haunches. The lesson horse some times takes advantage of me and I have a hard time with the canter depart. When I give him the canter cue, he isn't cantering until we are at the other end of the arena. My riding instructor wants me to be cantering within a couple of strides of asking. I know it's mostly my fault, but my instructor has also told me that he was blowing me off. She got on him, cantered him a few laps and then let me get back on. He was an angel and listened perfectly.

I think that I'm mixing my side passing cue up with the canter depart cue though. When I'm told to go into a canter, she tells me to open my inside leg and tap with my outside leg behind the girth. The horse usually side passes and increases his speed to a faster trot. So now I'm trying to think of what I'm doing wrong. Can someone please help me?
 

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First off, I'm not going to say your trainer is wrong because each can use different cues. However, if I was to use the cue you described, I would expect the horse to sidepass.

Since she was able to get the horse to do it, that's because she's riding different than you or not using the same cue. The difference in her riding would be caused by confidence and the sincerity of what she asks the horse to do. You, on the other hand, are learning and consequently are showing uncertainty to the horse. The horse then doesn't respond because it's uncertain if you really want it.

I'm not into english or dressage or arena work but here's the cue that I've known to ask for a canter with a certain lead. First, put your outside leg on farther back to nudge their rear over. This is a precue and gets the horse into position. Then you ask for the canter with your other leg.

Now if you asked how I get a horse to canter, it would be different. That's because I just trail ride and let the horse choose which lead they go into. You don't want to be cantering around any corners or bends because you never know what's going to be there. We save our cantering for roads and open areas where we go straight so it doesn't matter which lead they are in.
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
First off, I'm not going to say your trainer is wrong because each can use different cues. However, if I was to use the cue you described, I would expect the horse to sidepass.

Since she was able to get the horse to do it, that's because she's riding different than you or not using the same cue. The difference in her riding would be caused by confidence and the sincerity of what she asks the horse to do. You, on the other hand, are learning and consequently are showing uncertainty to the horse. The horse then doesn't respond because it's uncertain if you really want it.

I'm not into english or dressage or arena work but here's the cue that I've known to ask for a canter with a certain lead. First, put your outside leg on farther back to nudge their rear over. This is a precue and gets the horse into position. Then you ask for the canter with your other leg.

Now if you asked how I get a horse to canter, it would be different. That's because I just trail ride and let the horse choose which lead they go into. You don't want to be cantering around any corners or bends because you never know what's going to be there. We save our cantering for roads and open areas where we go straight so it doesn't matter which lead they are in.
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I might've been confused of what my instructor was asking of me too. I just get frustrated because she can do it easily and I'm struggling with it so much. I ride Western. How would you ask for the canter with your inside leg? Just put pressure on it?
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
My instructor also made a comment about releasing my cues, which I have a habit of not doing. Could that be why I have a hard time with the canter depart? Maybe the horse is about to go into a canter, but I don't release my inside leg so he doesn't? And maybe that is why my instructor yells out to me to open it?
 

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I don't know whether western horses are trained differently to english for canter or whether you're rising in trot (posting) beforehand.

I think your problem lies in the fact you aren't asking for any bend - this is why the horse canters at the end of the straight, where they have to bend to go round the corner.

I would ask for canter just as the outside hind leg is about to leave the ground to swing forward as this is the first stride of canter. Asking in a corner is helpful, but if on the straight then I would ask for a little inward bend on the inside rein holding the outside rein still, then sitting into the trot (ie stop rising) on the next offside hind leg I would ask for canter by swinging my outside leg well back behind the girth and squeezing with BOTH legs briefly.

It ends up as one fluid motion, sit & squeeze and say can-ter - the voice cue is helpful - sit on the "can" and squeeze on the "ter"
 

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I'll tell you what I was taught, but I don't follow it so take it with a few pounds of salt...

Imagine the horse's feet form a rectangle. At a sitting trot, use the outside leg to shove his hip over, so the rectangle is now moving across the ground with his inner front leg a little ahead of the outer one. If he sidepasses, move the outer leg further back until his HIP moves. From that position, squeeze both legs to accelerate to a canter, with the inside front leg ahead of the outside front leg.

When prepping to learn to canter, Trooper & I practiced this a lot. But when I eventually asked him to canter, he always took a left lead. That is a flexibility & training issue for him, and we've worked on it for the sake of his physical ability.

However, I'm mostly in the category of not caring what lead the horse chooses. Outside the arena, my turns at a canter would either be very gradual, or unpredictable. Either way, setting a particular lead wouldn't help me much.

On a lesson horse, I'd make sure with my instructor that I'm asking him properly. In my limited experience with lesson horses, some seem inclined to do the wrong thing deliberately so that the instructor will stop them to 'correct the student' while they get to relax.

If I was your instructor - and you probably ought to thank God that I am not! - I'd say, "Goody! He wants to teach you the counter-canter! It is more work for him, and you'll be rougher on his back, but if that is what he wants..." Then I'd let you learn to ride a rough canter, and let the horse learn that he doesn't get a break by doing things wrong.
 

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The biggest fault most beginner riders make when asking for the canter is


1...They put whatever aids they are told to do without any authority. In other words you ask pretty please will you canter instead of making the aids as a CANTER...NOW ! type of asking.

2 They (rider) will lean forward and put the balance forward on the horse so the the horse runs into the canter instead of jumping into it.This is often combined with a drop of contact so the horse runs through the bridle.

3 The above (leaning) combined with long straight lines makes it easy for the horse to run into the canter. Starting the canter (asking) coming into the corner allows the rider a bit more control and the horse less chance to run, so where you ask can either help or hinder your chance of success.

4 I have never heard of canter aids such as your instructor described.

http://www.horseforum.com/dressage/applying-aids-walk-trot-canter-93962/
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I don't know whether western horses are trained differently to english for canter or whether you're rising in trot (posting) beforehand.

I think your problem lies in the fact you aren't asking for any bend - this is why the horse canters at the end of the straight, where they have to bend to go round the corner.

I would ask for canter just as the outside hind leg is about to leave the ground to swing forward as this is the first stride of canter. Asking in a corner is helpful, but if on the straight then I would ask for a little inward bend on the inside rein holding the outside rein still, then sitting into the trot (ie stop rising) on the next offside hind leg I would ask for canter by swinging my outside leg well back behind the girth and squeezing with BOTH legs briefly.

It ends up as one fluid motion, sit & squeeze and say can-ter - the voice cue is helpful - sit on the "can" and squeeze on the "ter"
Thanks so much, but my instructor told me that she would teach me about bending later on, so I don't know much about it. I usually have to ask him on the straight.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I'll tell you what I was taught, but I don't follow it so take it with a few pounds of salt...

Imagine the horse's feet form a rectangle. At a sitting trot, use the outside leg to shove his hip over, so the rectangle is now moving across the ground with his inner front leg a little ahead of the outer one. If he sidepasses, move the outer leg further back until his HIP moves. From that position, squeeze both legs to accelerate to a canter, with the inside front leg ahead of the outside front leg.

When prepping to learn to canter, Trooper & I practiced this a lot. But when I eventually asked him to canter, he always took a left lead. That is a flexibility & training issue for him, and we've worked on it for the sake of his physical ability.

However, I'm mostly in the category of not caring what lead the horse chooses. Outside the arena, my turns at a canter would either be very gradual, or unpredictable. Either way, setting a particular lead wouldn't help me much.

On a lesson horse, I'd make sure with my instructor that I'm asking him properly. In my limited experience with lesson horses, some seem inclined to do the wrong thing deliberately so that the instructor will stop them to 'correct the student' while they get to relax.

If I was your instructor - and you probably ought to thank God that I am not! - I'd say, "Goody! He wants to teach you the counter-canter! It is more work for him, and you'll be rougher on his back, but if that is what he wants..." Then I'd let you learn to ride a rough canter, and let the horse learn that he doesn't get a break by doing things wrong.

Thanks! My instructor doesn't care what lead I'm on for the most part. She said as long as my canter depart is smooth, that he can suffer through it if he decides to canter on the wrong lead. lol I can definitely tell when he is on the wrong lead, I'm pratically panting when we stop!
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
The biggest fault most beginner riders make when asking for the canter is


1...They put whatever aids they are told to do without any authority. In other words you ask pretty please will you canter instead of making the aids as a CANTER...NOW ! type of asking.

2 They (rider) will lean forward and put the balance forward on the horse so the the horse runs into the canter instead of jumping into it.This is often combined with a drop of contact so the horse runs through the bridle.

3 The above (leaning) combined with long straight lines makes it easy for the horse to run into the canter. Starting the canter (asking) coming into the corner allows the rider a bit more control and the horse less chance to run, so where you ask can either help or hinder your chance of success.

4 I have never heard of canter aids such as your instructor described.

http://www.horseforum.com/dressage/applying-aids-walk-trot-canter-93962/

Thanks, I've actually checked out the thread you linked, but it confuses me. I've been taught to put my outside leg behind the girth. When my instructor wants me to do something else, she will tell me. So when I ask for a canter depart, I should be leaning back?
 

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So when I ask for a canter depart, I should be leaning back?
Leaning forward takes away the most important aid you have at your disposal...your seat and it isn't so much as leaning back but sitting deeper which will put more weight on to the horse.

Leaning forward puts all your weight on the forehand of the horse and causes the horse to become front heavy...this only makes it easy for the horse to run into every transition.
 

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I might've been confused of what my instructor was asking of me too. I just get frustrated because she can do it easily and I'm struggling with it so much. I ride Western. How would you ask for the canter with your inside leg? Just put pressure on it?
Don't get frustrated, she's been doing it a lot longer than you have and she knows the horse better. She knows his buttons and exactly how hard and where she has to push them. You don't...yet.

Give yourself time, you'll get there.
 

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It sounds like your trainer does the same as my western trainer did. Think of it as 'opening the door' when she has you take your inside leg off the horse. Basically, you're telling him to go through that door with his inside leg. You lift your rein hand (s) and sit down deep. Take your inside leg slightly off and ask for the canter with your outside leg. My horses have been so thoroughly trained this way that if I forget and try to go back to the more hunter style I was trained in, I'll get the wrong lead every time. As long as my inside leg is off the horse, perfect.

I also wear spurs (round ball equitation style) so if one of them tries to 'blow me off' I can spur or hit with the poppper end of my romels. If one is really bad, I'll ride with a crop in my back pocket just in case, I rarely have to use it.

For me, the difficulty in getting the canter/lope right was remembering the whole sequence and doing it correctly. Once I got that straight, it was a piece of cake.
 

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...So when I ask for a canter depart, I should be leaning back?
Again, take my posts with a huge grain of salt...

Trooper may have a tough time with a right lead, but he's very good at exploding into a canter - if indeed that is good. I generally take a few strides to try to get as deep into the saddle as I can. For me, that means a conscious effort to pry my knees apart, try to let my legs stretch, and what feels like leaning back (but really isn't). Then I DO lean forward some, say something like "Let's GO!" - and he jumps forward into a canter. That effort to get deep gives him a pretty good hint that we're about to canter soon.

My 13 hand mustang, OTOH, just doesn't have the power to do that. He makes a quick shift, but his canter is very smooth and he is just too small to make me feel any concern for staying on - even tho I ride him in a flatter jump saddle. But being a short wheelbase model, he can turn up his own butthole - so that doesn't mean I can take him for granted.

I like my horse to canter extended at a near gallop, so I don't mind leaning forward during the canter and trying to match our balance points. The western instructors I've had frown on it, but my horses seem happier that way. With the mustang, there is very little lean, more with the Appy. I do try to practice some of the time at staying straight in the saddle at a canter. I think both are good to know. The Aussie saddle I normally use with Trooper seems designed to put me more forward. With my Circle Y, I'm more likely to stay straight up - it wasn't meant for leaning forward.

For now, I'd listen to your instructor. She knows how you ride, knows your horse, and can give you better advice.
 

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1. Asking for some bend frees the horses shoulder up and makes it easier for them to go into canter.

2. Timing is crucial - ask when the outside hind is lifting off the ground - that is the ONLY time you can influence the horse's gait.

3. Find a better instructor - they should teach you bend before they teach canter!
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Leaning forward takes away the most important aid you have at your disposal...your seat and it isn't so much as leaning back but sitting deeper which will put more weight on to the horse.

Leaning forward puts all your weight on the forehand of the horse and causes the horse to become front heavy...this only makes it easy for the horse to run into every transition.
Thanks, that makes a lot of sense. I will try to sit deeper next time I try to canter. :)

Don't get frustrated, she's been doing it a lot longer than you have and she knows the horse better. She knows his buttons and exactly how hard and where she has to push them. You don't...yet.

Give yourself time, you'll get there.
Thanks for the encouraging words! I hope to one day ride like my instructor.

It sounds like your trainer does the same as my western trainer did. Think of it as 'opening the door' when she has you take your inside leg off the horse. Basically, you're telling him to go through that door with his inside leg. You lift your rein hand (s) and sit down deep. Take your inside leg slightly off and ask for the canter with your outside leg. My horses have been so thoroughly trained this way that if I forget and try to go back to the more hunter style I was trained in, I'll get the wrong lead every time. As long as my inside leg is off the horse, perfect.

I also wear spurs (round ball equitation style) so if one of them tries to 'blow me off' I can spur or hit with the poppper end of my romels. If one is really bad, I'll ride with a crop in my back pocket just in case, I rarely have to use it.

For me, the difficulty in getting the canter/lope right was remembering the whole sequence and doing it correctly. Once I got that straight, it was a piece of cake.
Thanks! My instructor told me that I have to know what I'm going to do before I actually do it, like think it all through.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
For now, I'd listen to your instructor. She knows how you ride, knows your horse, and can give you better advice.
Thanks for all of your help! And yes, I always listen to my instructor. I was just asking for help, that way I don't annoy my instructor with so many questions. :lol:

1. Asking for some bend frees the horses shoulder up and makes it easier for them to go into canter.

2. Timing is crucial - ask when the outside hind is lifting off the ground - that is the ONLY time you can influence the horse's gait.

3. Find a better instructor - they should teach you bend before they teach canter!
I understand the concept of bending, I'm just working on other things in my riding right now. I've been riding for 9 or 10 months and I think that I'm progressing well. You are obviously more experienced than I am, but I have to disagree about your third point. From what I've been told, it's good when you learn how to canter early on, in case the horse spooks and bolts. I would be much safer and less afraid if I could sit the canter, which I can do well enough.
 

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Thanks so much, but my instructor told me that she would teach me about bending later on, so I don't know much about it. I usually have to ask him on the straight.
I'm feeling uneasy about your instructor, I've never come across one who asks you as a novice to pick up the canter on the straight, the most usual time is to ask as you come onto the first corner at the short end of the arena, gives you two corners to get it right before the starightaway.

Thanks! My instructor doesn't care what lead I'm on for the most part. She said as long as my canter depart is smooth, that he can suffer through it if he decides to canter on the wrong lead. lol I can definitely tell when he is on the wrong lead, I'm pratically panting when we stop!
I can see what she is getting at there, s smooth depart then keep the canter is maybe better than worrying to much about your lead and having to drop out when you get it wrong.

Why are you panting when you stop if he is on the wrong lead?

OK, is there a round pen where you are, or can your instructor lunge you? It's a great way to learn about getting good departs and sitting deep and riding the canter, while not having to worry about steering, or that niggle that you are being run away with. So often when you are learning, or in my case re learning you end up leaning forward and letting the horse drop his front end, worrying that you are going/going to go to fast so you end up asking for stop and go at the same time, or you get to worried about the WHERE you are going rather than the HOW.

If you strip away all the other things you can just concentrate on your seat and the feeling of the horse, riding departs with your eyes closed so you can fell the right lead, all these are good thing sto do.
 

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Just to make you feel better, getting a good canter depart for a novice rider is a very common problem. And Spyder mentioned the leaning forward and having the horse rush into the canter (which will cause a novice to lose their seat and grip up with their legs, or haul on the reins) is a very common problem.

Sit back a bit and think of "scooping" your horse up and pushing them ahead of you. Like squeezing a tube of tooth paste, but more of it coming from good, strong core muscles.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
I'm feeling uneasy about your instructor, I've never come across one who asks you as a novice to pick up the canter on the straight, the most usual time is to ask as you come onto the first corner at the short end of the arena, gives you two corners to get it right before the starightaway.



I can see what she is getting at there, s smooth depart then keep the canter is maybe better than worrying to much about your lead and having to drop out when you get it wrong.

Why are you panting when you stop if he is on the wrong lead?

OK, is there a round pen where you are, or can your instructor lunge you? It's a great way to learn about getting good departs and sitting deep and riding the canter, while not having to worry about steering, or that niggle that you are being run away with. So often when you are learning, or in my case re learning you end up leaning forward and letting the horse drop his front end, worrying that you are going/going to go to fast so you end up asking for stop and go at the same time, or you get to worried about the WHERE you are going rather than the HOW.

If you strip away all the other things you can just concentrate on your seat and the feeling of the horse, riding departs with your eyes closed so you can fell the right lead, all these are good thing sto do.

Ok, gotta clear a couple of things up here, due to wording on my part. My instructor doesn't always have me start him at the canter on the straight. We also try on corners.

She will tell me if I'm on the wrong lead, and I will drop out and try again. But, if the horse keeps switching or picking up the wrong lead, she will just let him canter. Lol about the panting, I was just joking. I'm more tired when I'm counter cantering though. It takes a lot out of me to keep him at a canter, I'm constantly pushing him forward. He can be lazy.

I've had lunge lessons before. They did help me, but the horse doesn't act up when she's controlling him. He will listen perfectly. It's not about the lead, it's more like Spyder said. He will run into the canter, making it very unsmooth. I've had him jump in it before, and it feels much better!

I've come to the conclusions after what you all have told me, that I need to relax, sit deep and then ask. I usually get all worked up about the canter, because I know he wont listen to me.
 
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