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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So I started riding from the ages of 8-13 and I loved it but stopped because I just grew out of it. I’m now 20 and have recently taken it back up, and have completely fallen in love with it again! However I am having a lot of trouble with cantering. I just get really uncomfortable and feel like I’m going to fall off even though the horse is incredibly tame, well trained and is without a doubt one of that safest horses at that particular riding school. When I was younger I was completely fine I have no idea what’s going on with me. I get so nervous beforehand and when I am cantering I actually hold on to the saddle for balance because I’m afraid I’m going to fall. When I was younger I never had that problem at all. How can I get more confident at it while also feeling safe while on the horse? I feel like 5 years of riding has been completely forgotten. I’m fine with jumping while trotting, but at the moment a jump in canter makes my stomach turn. How can I get over this and be the confident rider I used to be?
 

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I was always told that you have to have a solid foundation at the trot to have a good canter. Both in regards to the horse and for the rider's seat. It does take a little practice to gain good balance at the canter, but once you've got the hang of it, it becomes second nature. If you are nervous, you may be tensing up, which in my experience is more than enough to through me off balance.

On the note of regaining past confidence, have you considered some lessons on the lunge line? I take it that you have an instructor who'd be able to do this with you. Being on the line gives the rider less to think about. It gives some control to the person on the other end of line, and allows you, the rider, to focus more on yourself and less on the horse. That might help you to work on your balance and your confidence before you dive into more jumping or serious canter work.
 

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Oh, that will all go away in time. you are a young adult now, so just that much more aware of what falling really means to your body.


Try learning to ride at 41!
 

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Try learning to ride at 41!
Try re-learning at 45 after a 28 year hiatus!

Yep, you'll be fine. Just keep at it. Over, and over, and over. Eventually, it will be no big deal.

Holding onto the saddle is probably the worst thing you can do for your seat though. It will actually make you bounce more and feel less stable. I know this sounds crazy and it's hard to do, but try to just relax. Feel the horse move under you. Don't think about it, FEEL it. Go with the rhythm. Believe you will be fine - visualize beforehand! Picture yourself riding an easy canter. Stretch your legs down like you're hugging the horse (but don't actually squeeze, just feel the shape of the horse's barrel).

Often, as adults, we over-think things. That's why it was easy for you as a kid. You'll get your groove back, just keep riding. Don't wait another 28 years like I did!
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
On the note of regaining past confidence, have you considered some lessons on the lunge line?
That’s actually a very good idea that I hadn’t thought about. I’ll definitely be asking my instructor to do that a few times while I ease into it. I think I just need to get used to it and relax and that might just be the thing to do it! Thank you so much.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I know! And my instructor has told me not to hold onto the saddle! But a user suggested trying canter on the lunge line as it might help me feel a bit more controlled and relaxed. I might do this because I am really tense on the horse! And I completely get you about overthinking it as an adult, as a child you don’t really think about the risk but now I definitely am!

But that’s amazing that after 28 years you have the confidence to do it. My instructor was telling me about a 50 something year old starting it for the first time and I think it’s great to see people doing something they’ve always wanted to, but maybe never quite had the confidence to do it. Hopefully i’ll get my canter underway and i’ll Be able to say the same about me in a few weeks!!!
 

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I have a theory that we get scared because subconsciously we know that we are not up to the task. You say that you feel like you are going to fall off and you are most probably registering small losses of balance.

I was exactly like that. And it turned out that my fear was founded in fact. My balance and my muscles were simply not good enough. I stopped cantering for a long time, two years. When I felt ready, I had no trouble at all - it was a completely different feeling and my body knew what to do and was capable of doing it. It will most probably not take you two years to get there - I am old and particularly clumsy and untalented. But I would say don’t push yourself to do something your intuition is telling you is wrong for you at the moment.
 

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#adultproblems

You've simply learned you're not invincible anymore. And tbh usually a fall will get that out of your system, most people fall for the first time and go "oh that wasn't that bad!" of course there is the potential for injury but we tend to build it up.

Remember any tenseness in your body will make it harder for you to ride and more likely for something to happen. You have to let it go and "be one" with the horse.

I agree with trying lunge lessons, good idea. Helps you get comfortable without worrying about the horse and as the lunge is a circle the only concern is to feel the canter, there won't be any changes just feel it.

Safest or not some horses have more tricky canters, a nice slow rocking horse canter is easiest to learn on. Many horses, even safe horses, will speed up if you/they are unbalanced.
 

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How long have you been having lessons for? Maybe you just need to give yourself more time to do walk/trot and get comfortable and happy? There is no rush to be cantering. I rode as a young child, but never had lessons so probably had a terrible position, then had a break of over 20 years and started again a couple of years ago at 36. I have been through a few places for lessons, and one of my first ones, they tried to rush me on to canter and I just was not in the right mind space to do it and really did not have the strength and balance built up yet. I then moved lesson places and had a few tries at canter in some lessons around the 20/30 lessons mark (these are private lessons with about 45–50 min riding) but really did not start doing it consistently until around the 40 lesson mark. Now I am in no way good at it, but I feel balanced enough to be completely comfortable and happy doing it.
 

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Try re-learning at 45 after a 28 year hiatus!

Yep, you'll be fine. Just keep at it. Over, and over, and over. Eventually, it will be no big deal.

Holding onto the saddle is probably the worst thing you can do for your seat though. It will actually make you bounce more and feel less stable. I know this sounds crazy and it's hard to do, but try to just relax. Feel the horse move under you. Don't think about it, FEEL it. Go with the rhythm. Believe you will be fine - visualize beforehand! Picture yourself riding an easy canter. Stretch your legs down like you're hugging the horse (but don't actually squeeze, just feel the shape of the horse's barrel).

Often, as adults, we over-think things. That's why it was easy for you as a kid. You'll get your groove back, just keep riding. Don't wait another 28 years like I did!
no way, hooking my finger under the saddle was basically the only way i wouldnt fall, do that- get into the motion, then let go and try and stay in balance, sometimes that first stride is too difficult to sit to, unless used to cantering
 
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