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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm just learning canter, and it tends to go fine at first but then the horse speeds up, usually because the other horse is. My trainer says grab mane, but I think that's when it goes south. I then lose rein contact and then hold on with my legs, and they go faster, etc. So I'm thinking if I can keep my reins and just try to keep the canter slow? I love it when it's slow, but I've fallen of a few times when they speed up, so it's hard not to panic when they do.
 

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Is everyone cantering as a group? that sounds like a recipe for trouble, especially for beginners.


The way we did it, back when I took lessons, is that I only cantered as long as things were in control. As soon as I felt myself falling forward, or the canter getting strung out, my trainer had me pull the horse back to a trot. Being able to control the canter with my reins AND seat came later, and then I became able to slow it without haveing to bail out of it.



these things take time, but better many short, 'good' canters, than one long 'bad' one.
 

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A great exercise to build your confidence and improve your seat in the canter is to go into the canter for two to three strides and then go back down to a trot/walk, so that you can practice the canter and focus really hard for a few strides before it gets too fast and starts to get out of control, and then just slow back down. Eventually you will be able to stay in a slow, relaxed canter for long amounts of time.

Another thing that can help yourself and your horse stay calm when going at a faster speed is (I know it sounds silly, but) humming a song or tune. My trainer always has me do this when I get nervous or my horse gets too fast, and it really helps!

I hope this helps and good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I think you guys are spot on so far for suggestions. I'd like to try short bits of canter, and build confidence I can slow down. This is just me and my trainer riding, sometimes she's also on a horse.
 

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Push your heels down rather than just holding on with your leg, bring your shoulders tall to the sky, and push your hands slightly forward and lower them a little to grab some mane. You might consider shortening your reins before you go up to canter so that when you put them forward they aren't too long. Try to sit up tall if the horse goes faster.
 

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I totally disagree with holding onto the mane.

For a novice this will put them leaning forward, their legs will go back and grip making the horse go faster.

Hat I would tell you to do is tomtake both reins in one hand and, if Riding English, insert two fingers under the front of the saddle and pull up. This will encourage you to sit deeper, help you balance and no need to grip with your lower leg.

Of riding western pull up on the horn.
 

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An issue I had was I would stare too much at the horses ears which would tip me forward. I had to look up, think positive (woohoo let's do this!) and remember to look where I wanted to go. My horse used to go so fast as to motorbike corners out of anxiety at the start, what a horrible feeling! I did NOT consent to a barrel racing style of ride lol! I will say in a group though it's impossible to work the canter, or so I felt. When out hacking/trail riding you don't really have a choice and it's different if the terrain is a bit bumpy. In the arena they just wanna stay nose to tail all the time and unless you've got that balance you can't really stop them rushing to keep up until you're a bit more experienced. I actually found even just a single private lesson to focus on the canter would help me immensely. Is that a possibility for you?
 

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I then lose rein contact and then hold on with my legs, and they go faster, etc.
Why does "losing rein contact" cause you to hold with your legs? You should hold yourself in your saddle with your legs, just not below the knees, so your hands can follow the horse's head with loose shoulders and elbows.

Have you considered cantering while on a lunge line under your trainer's control, so you don't need your hands at all?
 

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I'm just learning canter, and it tends to go fine at first but then the horse speeds up, usually because the other horse is. My trainer says grab mane, but I think that's when it goes south. I then lose rein contact and then hold on with my legs, and they go faster, etc. So I'm thinking if I can keep my reins and just try to keep the canter slow? I love it when it's slow, but I've fallen of a few times when they speed up, so it's hard not to panic when they do.
Worry about a fast canter often leads to a fast canter. As you mentioned, you hold on with your legs and the horse goes faster. In effect, your legs are telling the horse to go faster. Consider the following.

Any time you grip, you tense your muscles. When you tense your muscles more than absolutely necessary, you restrict the ability of your muscles to move freely. This, in turn, limits your ability to follow your horse’s movements and make the necessary adjustments to remain in balance.

It is sometimes difficult to keep from tensing your muscles unnecessarily, especially when first learning to ride. Singing, humming, and talking calmly to the horse can help. Purposely allowing and feeling your body move with the movements of your horse at the walk and trot can help make doing so at the canter more natural.

When you release unnecessary tension in your muscles and simply balance your head above your spine, your bones support your weight and your muscles can move more freely. At the same time, gravity is allowed to do its work. Gravity will pull your seat deep into the saddle. Gravity with wrap your legs gently around your horse’s sides eliminating and need to “hold on”. Gravity will pull your legs downward. Gravity will hold your feet to the stirrups. Gravity will draw your heels lower than your toes; this will eliminate the need to “push” your heels down which causes unnecessary muscular tension. Then, just allow your body to move with your horse as you balance your center of gravity over your horse’s center of gravity. This balance may alter the “uprightness” of your body depending on the speed of the horse; don’t worry about this – think balance.

As you practice what is described in the above paragraph, you will develop and independent seat. This means that your hands and body may be used to control your horse rather than simply “hold on”.
 

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Wait a minute -

I'm just learning canter, and it tends to go fine at first but then the horse speeds up, usually because the other horse is...
and
This is just me and my trainer riding, sometimes she's also on a horse.
Something doesn't sound right with this - sounds like your trainer is at least partially causing this problem, when she's the one who has the knowledge to control her horse as well as the responsibility of keeping you in a state where you can learn!
 

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I may be reading your post wrong, but you should not be balancing on your reins when you ride the canter. You will have a tuff time learning to balance in the saddle or move correctly with the horse by doing this. Many trainers have students ride a horse on a long line with no reins so they can learn to balance correctly in the saddle without balancing on the reins. This also requires a seasoned lesson horse that is confident carrying un-balanced riders. If you do loose balance I would suggest holding the Cheyenne roll/cantle of the saddle to regain balance. This puts your body is a little better position than leaning forward to grab the mane.
 

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Grabbing mane will not help you slow down.
I was never taught that. Sit deep, relax. Breathe. Don't grip, or lean forward.
That is a cue to go faster.
Can you canter by yourself at all? Do you always have to ride with another horse?
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Grabbing mane will not help you slow down.
I was never taught that. Sit deep, relax. Breathe. Don't grip, or lean forward.
That is a cue to go faster.
Can you canter by yourself at all? Do you always have to ride with another horse?
Exactly, I need to react by slowing down, instead of reacting by grabbing mane. I think the idea is to grab mane to help you get comfortable riding the canter but it seems to be counterproductive for me. My lessons are private, I have had some time on the lunge line, honestly I like not being on a line better, but maybe we should go back to it. Sometimes my trainer is on the ground, sometimes on another horse. I'm just at that transition of trying to canter on my own, and when it gets too fast I panic and grab and squeeze.
 

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You are being overfaced. You need to either ride a hrose that will NOT speed up at the canter, no matter how unbalanced you become. Or, you need to work more at the trot so that you have a stronger seat and are not buffaloed by the canter. this sounds to me as if you have been 'rushed' into the canter, which ends up being rushed.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
I feel like maybe I've gone into half seat during a fast canter before without realizing that's what it was. Would this be helpful if I can't follow the motion, but am trying to not just stop the canter? Or go into half seat to help stay on but then slow down if I've gotten out of sync?
 

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your not going to learn by doing a half seat... and the way i see it, more people fall off from leaning forward than back, so your less likely to fall if your a little behind.
its important to have a good seat during canter as alot of horses become unbalanced- and will need your help to get into a better position, not something you can do in a half seat...

i would stop holding on to the mane, this will pull your shoulders forward and pull you out of your seat... hook your finger under the saddle, hold your reins in one hand if you have to, and lean back a bit, keep your shoulders back and roll your hips forward abit.

i know its really patronising to say but the most important bit is to relax...
 

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I think beginners should be cantering in a circle around the trainer, where horse and rider are more closely watched, trainer can communicate with the horse/rider and the horse won't take off. Plus, in a circle, they maintain better collection and their speed is steadier.

In a group, we would have them walking on the wall, then ONLY the lead horse would canter around the arena until it came upon the group of other horses, slowing down to a walk.

Lean back, relax, and be patient with yourself. None of us were born cantering!
 

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The ease of learning to ride a canter is influenced greatly by the movement of the horse. One big advantage of riding a “schoolmaster” horse is that the horse will do the movement – often at the request of the instructor – and the student is free to focus on feeling the horse’s movement. The rider, then, can spend his efforts on developing balance as he learns to move with the horse.

It is much easier to learn to ride a canter if the horse is well balanced and its movements are smooth. The conformation and training of the horse are both influential in this regard. If a horse is generally balanced toward the forehand, cantering up hill will help shift its weight to the rear. With an extra joint, the hind legs tend to act as a spring making the movement of the horse smoother. It is also generally easier to slow the horse if necessary when going up hill.

When riding in an arena, larger arcs make it easier for the rider to first learn to ride the canter. In a more pronounced arc, the rider must think more about lateral balance.

While learning to ride a canter under certain conditions does not teach a rider to ride under all conditions, it serves as a starting point. Riders can more easily grasp a smaller set of variables. Once the response to these variables becomes more automatic, the rider can more easily grasp additional variables experienced under different conditions.
 

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I agree that practising shorter bursts of cantering (like picking up your canter between H and C and then coming back to the trot at F) or cantering a circle with your instructor in the middle are good ways of starting to learn it. The moment you get too fast and then begin to get disorganised, you should come back to the trot and make sure you're organised again before going back up to the canter.


Have you tried cantering on a lunge line?
 

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I recommend when they start speeding up, sitting deeply and holding your core. keep good contact with the reins and half halt a wee bit (small squeeze with the reins and release, squeeze and release, etc) when they try going faster. as long as you keep your leg on a wee bit while doing this they shouldn't break into a trot, but instead hold a good, slow working canter.
 
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