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How long until a beginner should learn to canter?

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Hi there, I'm an adult beginner. Just wonder for others how long did you wait before learning to canter, or how long do you think people should wait? I've heard mixed things from instructors. I've had one instructor tell me I should work on trotting and control for a year before cantering. And I had another who wanted to have me start cantering after about 3 months of lessons.

I've cantered with that instructor a few times now and honestly it feels terrifying. Is this just something normal I should push through? Or is it a sign I'm not ready yet and should work on other basic skills?
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It will be scary at first. But I don't think you need to have absollute control before cantering a few times , down the straigt side of the arena. I don't think it's a time thing, but rather YOUR feeling of control.
However, if you really feel terrified of it, let the instructor know. you will at some point need to push through fear, but not terror.
 

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As an adult learner as well, I cantered after about 3 months. Everyone is different though, and our fear levels and comfort are different. I'd agree to let your instructor know. My riding friend was learning with me and she was also scared and the trainer accommodated by having her canter while holding the horse on a lunge line. So she didn't need to worry about controlling the horse at all, just figuring out her being in the seat to canter.
 

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I bought a horse and learned to ride - in that order. She was a bolter so we did gallops LONG before I was ready! Survived it, but I didn't enjoy cantering until I swapped her 7 years later for another horse. Bandit had been used in relay races, so another couple of years for him to decompress before I could really ENJOY cantering on a trail. In an arena? My first horse was awkward enough and excitable enough that it still took me a few years to feel happy cantering her. OTOH, on a reliable horse...I was pretty happy cantering from the first time on.

I tried to push my youngest daughter to canter before she was really ready. Trooper (her horse) refused to canter. So I quit pushing her. About a year later, we got back from a trail ride and they started cantering around the arena. When SHE was ready, TROOPER was ready. And then she loved it.
I think new riders (I started at 50) ought to canter a few times on a reliable horse just to accept it as OK. That minimal confidence is important if you ever are on a bolting horse and any horse MIGHT at some point take off. Beyond that, do it when you feel OK. FWIW, I see no correlation between trotting and cantering at all. Nothing about trotting prepared me for the feel of cantering (or galloping). Totally different movement.

I did sometimes get to ride a horse when I was around 20. Back then, I did a fair bit of cantering on trails with horses and without any issues, but they were reliable horses and I was 20, not 50! By 50, I was far more aware of my mortality....

PS: My personal advice on feeling good about cantering? Polish the saddle. Don't try to sit it because your rump WILL move around in the saddle - and that is OK. Don't resist the movement. Go with it - which feels to me like I'm trying to polish the saddle with my rump. The back of the horse rocks back and forth, so flow with it.

 

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I'm an adult beginner. I've been riding since February 2022 and did not start cantering until about 1 - 1.5 months ago.

My instructor wanted me to be VERY balanced in sitting/posting trot before moving forward as cantering can be scary, as mentioned by other posters.

I'm thankful that my instructor waited for some time until I was ready. I'm way more balanced during the canter and it doesn't seem as difficult to get the hang of (rather than if I started earlier - I think!).

All instructors and riders are totally different, though, in how they teach/learn.
 

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My black horse is very silly and handsome. He is hard to train most of the time.
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I have a little story about this first cantering subject, hope it isn't too long lol 😅
The first horse that I got, the old one, I would ride him in the corral for the first 2 weeks after we got him because
I had never ridden a horse except for a minute or two on a friend's horse or someone giving away free small rides at a rodeo. So poor Comet was walked and trotted to death ( I was very excited about my own horse!!!) inside a 30 ft corral for 2 weeks. The first time I rode him in the tiny pasture outside of the corral I was scared because he wanted to get away from that corral!! He was so sick of riding in the corral.
Anyway need to get back to subject 😅;)
So for the first 3 weeks I was riding him a little and when I finally went out on a longer ride I was considering cantering but too scared to ask him to. But going up a little slope trotting fast he decided to canter like 5 strides. I was scared and greatly thrilled at the same time! Let me tell ya'll, that canter was heavenly! Then I waited to get back to the house and tremblingly asked him to canter and he did a few strides. Poor Comet I never let him trot again lol!! I was so infatuated with cantering that he got a lot of exercise. Y'know what I mean of course I let him trot but I was cantering him all the time. He was sooo great and never got hiper or anything just going with the flow. But he wasn't able to gallop since he was quite old probably 23 ish according to his teeth. When I got the " love of my life" my black horse I love him so much!! He was quite fast so I rode him a lot more. Castillo is my black horse.
It took me 1 1/2 years to get comfortable enough to gallop full speed down a gently sloping hill about 70 meters long.
Anyway sorry for the long story cantering is amazing in my opinion and so is galloping if your horse isn't too crazy.
Here he is the sweet old horse that taught me to ride!! :)

Horse Working animal Tree Plant Liver


Comet is the chestnut with blaze, Nevada the gray roan my 2 year old and the dun in the back is Trueno a " wild " horse I hope to sell him soon.
 

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Idk you guys, but I feel much comfortable with the gallop than the trot. For me trotting is kind of a challenge and always need to concentrate a lot in body awareness. When galloping I feel one with the horse and everything feels so smooth; still, I also fear that I might loose control. I'm learning too
 

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I've been riding for over 30 years and it was over 20 years before I felt comfortable and confident at a canter/lope. Early in my riding I would ask the horse to move out and immediately pull back trying to lean on the reins and "hold on." This extremely bad habit caused lots of confusion, anxiety and problems with my horses. Then I bought my current horse and he taught me that riding at the lope can be quiet and comfortable and safe. I still haven't tried a full out gallop but I expect that in our future.

Ride your ride and work through you own issues at your speed. Anyone who pushes you too fast doesn't have your welfare at heart.
 
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I started cantering not a long time ago (been riding two years as an adult) and I’m still working on my seat and on keeping my lazy guy forward. I started on trails, next to my instructor, and now I’m doing it in the arena (circles, half and whole arena). I suggest one of these things to get started: lunge lesson (but going in circles makes finding your balance more difficult, however you don’t need to think about the horse), cantering outside with your horse “ponied” by your instructor, who is also mounted. This gives him/her the opportunity to teach you the right position “in real time” and you feel confident that the horse won’t run off with you. But this takes two schooled horses that won’t end up racing each other (ours still do sometimes so you need to be able to slow yours down a little as needed). The canter shouldn’t be terrifying but you will be a little apprehensive. I think it’s normal. The horse is faster. Anything that happens (spook, stumble) at the canter has worse repercussions than at slower gaits. But, the feeling of being one with the animal and the rocky motion (gentler than the trot) is such a nice feeling! Trust your gut, and your pace. Your instructor, and your mount. There are excellent riders out there who don’t actually canter - it’s not a must, until you feel comfortable with it.
 

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I think it's really dependent on the rider, your skills and your goals. At my first barn, I rode for over a year without cantering, and at about 7-8 months in I was really wishing I could practice it a little bit. However, I stuck with the schedule set before me, and while I do think I was capable of learning, I didn't push it. But in the meantime I feel like I developed a pretty solid seat at the walk and trot, which is very important and not to be overlooked.

At my second barn, due to my previous experience, I was offered to canter on about my 5th or 6th lesson. I was incredibly nervous as this was a new(ish) horse to me, so we practiced primarily on a lunge line and in the round pen which really boosted my confidence. The mare I was riding was a bit faster than I was used to, so having the control of a line or pen helped me to focus primarily on my seat and my body, and not on directing her which way to go.

At my current barn I think I was encouraged to canter on my 2nd or 3rd lesson, completely on my own. But at this point I've been riding for about two years, even if my cantering experience is still somewhat limited. It's still a very nerve-wracking experience, but every time I slow back down I'm absolutely exhilarated! I've still yet to figure out how to REALLY steer or continue the pace for longer than one length of the arena, but the skills build up over time and it all comes down to practice.

That being said, if you're legitimately terrified, I would ask to wait and learn it at a later time. While it's a good skill to know, if just for a safety reason, beyond that, you don't really have to ever canter at all if you don't want to.
 

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I believe it has to do with being comfortable. Cantering can be intimidating and frightening and once you learn to ride balanced it can feel like a magical movement between you and horse. It takes time riding your horse to get comfortable. Walking and trotting and just getting out and moving and seeing the world together creates trust and comfort. Then one day it will just feel like time to give it a shot and it won't feel nearly as intimidating and uncomfortable as it does now. Then you can learn your balance and comfort at the canter and the magic can happen.

I wouldn't be discouraged, because once you master one thing there is always something else to work on. I heard somewhere that a good horse person goes out each ride trying to improve. I take that to heart and always try to improve every ride. Relax and have fun and enjoy the journey.
 
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