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How long did it take for you to feel comfortable in the canter?

912 Views 15 Replies 9 Participants Last post by  That.equestrian
I've been cantering for about 1.5 months and I sometimes still feel off balance. For example, I'll ask for canter and feel super stable/balanced and then I'll think about something else [turn left/right, give more pressure, etc.] which will "throw me off" a bit and I will feel off-balance. I'm not near falling off but I can generally feel in my seat that I'm not stable!

I was wondering how long it took practicing canter to feel generally stable in your seat and to give aids without "throwing you off".

I know everyone learns in a different amount of time but was hoping to get some examples from people! :)

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Oh. I think it depends on a number of things, the horse and its movement, the saddle and where you are going. I am comfortable with the canter movement but I struggle a bit with the direction, so, steering at the canter, especially when the arena figure I’m supposed to be making requires us to canter between poles/cavalletti or any other obstacle in the way. I wish a just had a whole field to canter around!
 

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Elle, 1997 Oldenburg mare
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Practicing your trot without stirrups -- both rising and sitting -- will go a very long way towards helping your canter seat without you actually having to be in the midst of the chaos of the canter itself. It helps develop the right muscles, and also helps give you better feel and muscle memory. Whenever my canter seat starts to feel sloppy or out of sync, I know I need to get back to practicing my stirrup-less trot!
 

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I don’t want to be a downer but it took me seven years to be fully and completely comfortable in canter. Only in the last year or so do I not even think about canter as an EVENT. I am still amazed that I even got here - I am a very nervous rider and very untalented. I look at kids that started at the same time as I did (now almost adults) and they are competing and doing all sorts of things I doubt I ever will - so most people are much better than me…
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Practicing your trot without stirrups -- both rising and sitting -- will go a very long way towards helping your canter seat without you actually having to be in the midst of the chaos of the canter itself. It helps develop the right muscles, and also helps give you better feel and muscle memory. Whenever my canter seat starts to feel sloppy or out of sync, I know I need to get back to practicing my stirrup-less trot!
I'll talk to my instructor about more stirrup-less work and see what she says - thank you!
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I don’t want to be a downer but it took me seven years to be fully and completely comfortable in canter. Only in the last year or so do I not even think about canter as an EVENT. I am still amazed that I even got here - I am a very nervous rider and very untalented. I look at kids that started at the same time as I did (now almost adults) and they are competing and doing all sorts of things I doubt I ever will - so most people are much better than me…
A lot of things in riding haven't come easy/naturally to me at all. You're definitely not a downer by saying it took you a while longer than others! I'm glad to hear it doesn't come easily to everyone but with hard work and persistence it'll be figured out.
 

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1.5 months isn't that long. How often do you ride, and do you ride your own horse or a lesson horse?
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
1.5 months isn't that long. How often do you ride, and do you ride your own horse or a lesson horse?
I ride two to three times a week and I ride a lesson horse.

I know 1.5 months isn't that long - I was just trying to see other people's experiences with cantering and how long it took to feel comfortable doing it. :)

Any tips/stories though would be appreciate of course.
 

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I ride two to three times a week and I ride a lesson horse.

I know 1.5 months isn't that long - I was just trying to see other people's experiences with cantering and how long it took to feel comfortable doing it. :)

Any tips/stories though would be appreciate of course.
I've been cantering for a few years, but until I got my own horse a year ago, I had lessons once a month to once a week. I'm still not entirely comfortable in the canter (not helped by the fact that my horse half bucks into it), but I haven't cantered very much because every time my horse is almost fit enough to canter, she goes lame.
But I think if you're riding that often, you should progress pretty fast. Another factor that could effect it is the horse you ride - horse's canters can vary a lot, and some are much easier to ride than others.
 

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Honestly, yeah... it's hard to say how long it takes to get comfortable with the canter because there are sooooo many degrees.

I'm comfortable cantering my personal horse... but I've been riding her for seven years, and her canter isn't particularly difficult. Even then, it took me about three years of consistently riding her (as a rusty adult re-rider) to get most of the unintended bounce out of my seat. Most of it. If I'm having a tense day, I can have difficulty sitting her canter, to this day. When I first started riding in my teens, I always rode canter in two point, so it was easier to adapt to differences in canter. These days I almost always sit the canter, but if anything doesn't quite line up for me on a given day, I can end up bouncing.

Some horses I can get on and feel fine cantering them during my first ride with them... and others feel like an out of control carnival ride. Every horse's canter is very different! It's normal to have some difficulty in the beginning of learning.... and the middle, haha... and then there's never an "end"....
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I've been cantering for a few years, but until I got my own horse a year ago, I had lessons once a month to once a week. I'm still not entirely comfortable in the canter (not helped by the fact that my horse half bucks into it), but I haven't cantered very much because every time my horse is almost fit enough to canter, she goes lame.
But I think if you're riding that often, you should progress pretty fast. Another factor that could effect it is the horse you ride - horse's canters can vary a lot, and some are much easier to ride than others.
Honestly, yeah... it's hard to say how long it takes to get comfortable with the canter because there are sooooo many degrees.

I'm comfortable cantering my personal horse... but I've been riding her for seven years, and her canter isn't particularly difficult. Even then, it took me about three years of consistently riding her (as a rusty adult re-rider) to get most of the unintended bounce out of my seat. Most of it. If I'm having a tense day, I can have difficulty sitting her canter, to this day. When I first started riding in my teens, I always rode canter in two point, so it was easier to adapt to differences in canter. These days I almost always sit the canter, but if anything doesn't quite line up for me on a given day, I can end up bouncing.

Some horses I can get on and feel fine cantering them during my first ride with them... and others feel like an out of control carnival ride. Every horse's canter is very different! It's normal to have some difficulty in the beginning of learning.... and the middle, haha... and then there's never an "end"....
I ride two to three different lesson horses (sometimes one more consistently than the others) and it's SO true that it depends on the horses' canter and how smooth it is. One of the horses I ride has a super smooth canter that almost FORCES me not to bounce and the other two are a LOT more bouncy and that's when I feel most out of control! lol

Thank you for your guys' help!
 

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I'll be honest, I've been riding for 28 years, and the only time I'm ever wholly comfortable in canter is if there are jumps in the equation and I can't overthink it. If I'm focused on my next fence and keeping my horse balanced and ready for it, I don't think about the canter itself, I don't micromanage my poor saint of a horse into oblivion, I can let her roll along without jamming us both up, and it's smooth and comfortable.

On the flat, I focus too hard on is she round enough, is she flexed the right way, is she forward enough/too forward, why are my circles egg shaped (spoiler: it's my fault, my horse is very educated and has no difficulty with basic schooling figures), why is she cantering haunches-in I'm asking for shoulder fore (spoiler: I'm always asking for haunches-in), what is rhythm, why is she all jammed up (spoiler: I'm jamming her up), why can't I ride????? It's a whole thing and it frustrates us both to no end.

From a coaching perspective when I'm teaching somebody to canter I usually put them on a horse that only has one canter speed and let them roll along and get a feel for it. It's easier to find your rhythm if you aren't affecting the horse's stride at all. I really like the round pen for this because the rider doesn't have to think about steering or running into anything, they can just focus on themself. Sometimes it's easier in a half seat so you can get a feel for the movement without bouncing around.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I'll be honest, I've been riding for 28 years, and the only time I'm ever wholly comfortable in canter is if there are jumps in the equation and I can't overthink it. If I'm focused on my next fence and keeping my horse balanced and ready for it, I don't think about the canter itself, I don't micromanage my poor saint of a horse into oblivion, I can let her roll along without jamming us both up, and it's smooth and comfortable.

On the flat, I focus too hard on is she round enough, is she flexed the right way, is she forward enough/too forward, why are my circles egg shaped (spoiler: it's my fault, my horse is very educated and has no difficulty with basic schooling figures), why is she cantering haunches-in I'm asking for shoulder fore (spoiler: I'm always asking for haunches-in), what is rhythm, why is she all jammed up (spoiler: I'm jamming her up), why can't I ride????? It's a whole thing and it frustrates us both to no end.

From a coaching perspective when I'm teaching somebody to canter I usually put them on a horse that only has one canter speed and let them roll along and get a feel for it. It's easier to find your rhythm if you aren't affecting the horse's stride at all. I really like the round pen for this because the rider doesn't have to think about steering or running into anything, they can just focus on themself. Sometimes it's easier in a half seat so you can get a feel for the movement without bouncing around.
Totally true that when you're THINKING about the canter something ends up going wrong with balance/stability lol and then when you're focusing on something else (like a jump) the canter feels super smooth.

It happens to me too! Even though I'm only good enough to jump small crossrails, when I'm JUST focused on the jump my canter feels so much more balanced.
 

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Umm, well, I've been "re-riding" for the last three and a half years and have been cantering for the last 2.5 years of that and I am STILL sometimes worried about the canter. I have to feel secure in my saddle (stick well), have to trust the horse won't spook or trip or make a sudden turn in the arena, etc. LOL I gallop on the horse I've been riding for two years, but sometimes I am still unbalanced and fearful. I ride mostly Western, but i like English and my horse goes both ways. I have yet to canter him in the all-purpose English saddle I have--it's so wispy and I'm such a chicken without sometimes to hang onto, just in case.
So, don't feel bad!
 

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Luckily for me, Eddie has quite smooth, slow canter, so it only took me about 12 lessons to feel comfortable. However, I mainly hack out at my barn, because we have some amazing hacking routes which I love, so I always feel a bit unbalanced when we’re cantering indoors, because he’s more speedy indoors, and I’m not used to corners (no outdoor unfortunately). Usually in the winter months, I start out doing stirrupless work and building it up until I feel balanced, and then trying a canter (with stirrups or without), but immediately slowing down if I don’t feel comfortable. Usually it takes a few lessons before I add in a canter, though. Hope this helps!
 
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