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Hello! I am taking jumping lessons once a week (jumping between 2' and 2'3 regularly) and leasing a horse for 2 additional days of riding. One thing I have been having difficulty with recently is with my stirrups moving back on my foot in my canter-->trot and trot--> canter transitions. I dont have any issues in picking up the canter from a walk, nor do I have an issue keeping my stirrups at the canter, but if the horse is cantering, and drops out of it into a trot unexpectedly, when I try to kick them up to the canter again, I have a tendency to grip with my knee/thigh so I'm not bouncing out of the saddle, move my leg back and lean forward to kick, which causes my stirrups to move around. I have less of an issue losing the stirrups if I plan a trot to canter transition or a canter to trot transition, but when the horse falls out of the canter and I quickly try to kick them to get back into the canter, my stirrups move around. I definitely find myself gripping with my legs at this point just so I'm not bouncing around as much in the fast/rough trot, so then when I go to kick I dont have enough weight in the stirrups to keep them in place. Also, another cause for the problem is that if the horse falls out of the canter and I am not expecting or anticipating it, I feel like for the first few strides of the trot, I bounce around a lot and have terrible balance before I can re-adjust, get balanced again, and kick up to the canter again. When I plan to drop down to a trot, I can tighten my core muscles and anticipate moving down to the trot, but when I'm cantering and I feel like the horse is about to fall out of the canter, instead of anticipating the trot, I try to push them into the canter more, but sometimes they still fall out of it and then I am still in the motion of trying to keep the canter rather than balancing for the trot. How do I keep better balance when the horse ignores my cues and falls out of the canter before I ask them go to down a gait? When I cue the horse to fall out of the canter, I dont have any issues with balance. Any tips would be greatly appreciated.
 

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I am not an expert rider - but I am an expert at falling out of canter :)

The way I see it, your problem isn't that you are loosing stirrups and bouncing after it happens. That is what typically happens if the horse transitions on their own, at least in my experience.

I think your problem is that your horse is doing the downward transition on it's own terms which leads to "falling" out of canter rather than properly transitioning. If I were you, I would work on your horse's responsiveness to your seat. I found that when I achieved that, I stopped having trouble with this issue - because I could keep my horse in canter. Leg ques in canter are trickier to execute than a small nudge with your seat. Could you take some dressage lessons? I think a good dressage instructor would be of great help in a relatively short amount of time. If not, work on a lot of transitions between stop, walk and trot - those fixed my canter issues because they made my horse much more alert to my seat and overall more forward.

In the mean time, what I used to do before I fixed the seat responsiveness is that if I felt that I couldn't keep them in canter any longer, I would do an orderly downward transition and ask for canter as soon as I got a nice trot - the whole sequence was much faster than nagging, falling out of canter, trying not to fall off, getting my balance back and finally asking for canter again. Also, doing an orderly canter-trot-canter transition makes them more forward and more responsive to your aids - as all transitions do - and improves their canter in the process.

Another thing I also used is to get into two point if I felt we were going to fall out and asking for more forward canter that way. It usually helped keep her in canter and if it didn't, at least I didn't bounce and I was able to get her back up into canter much faster.
 

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That's a tough problem! I think everyone has at least some issues with that. Whenever your horse transitions unexpectedly, in throws your balance off because, as in your case, you're thrown forward which causes your center of balance to be way off.
Do you lose your stirrups the second the transition happens, or does it take a few strides? If it takes a bit, I'd focus your efforts immediately on slowing down the trot. A big problem of a downward transition from canter to trot, especially if it's unexpected, is that many horses tend to "run" instead of moving into a balanced trot. Without transitioning properly, their momentum carries them forward a lot and the lack of balance from the rider only compounds this, since their unbalanced, leaning-forward body causes the horse to have to "run" to keep their body under the riders.
Immediately putting on the breaks can sound sort of backwards - after all, you're supposed to be cantering, so shouldn't you be driving your horse forward? Well, in my opinion, no good upward canter transition ever comes from a rushed trot, so when you break stride, your first goal should be to rebalance the troy by putting on the breaks anyway. But this plan of action ends up helping you, too, in two ways - first, by quickly bringing the trot back to something manageable, it's easy for you to sit comfortably without sliding forward and raising your feet accidentally. Second, the act of sitting up and pulling on the reins encourages you to be in a position of good balance - tall, vertical, legs under torso under head.
As another tip, I'd work on thinking about sitting tall at the canter all the time, and sitting deep in your saddle (trying to be pushed/bounced out of the saddle as little as possible). Oftentimes, riders can "get away" with sitting very forward at the canter, since the gait is already pushing you into that position to begin with and it's more comfortable to be in an almost two-point position instead of being bounced around. But if you put in the hard work and work on sitting taller and disengaging your hips so they flow with the movement of the horse, you will be in a way better position in case anything happens, such as a sudden downward transition. By always being tall and deep in your saddle, your body is already in a better place to adjust to any sudden changes and your body likely won't be thrown so forward, causing your legs to tuck up, as dramatically.
Hope this helps!
 

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I am thinking of getting some stirrups with those little tiny spikes on the treads. Letting down my stirrup leathers seems to help.
 

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Assuming the stirrups are adjusted properly, the usual cause for losing stirrups is tight or gripping legs. When gripping with the legs, riders often lift their feet. When leg muscles are tight, they cannot extend and open the joints of the hips, knees, and ankles if the seat is raised; this causes the feet to rise with the seat.

In either case, relax and let gravity do the work of keeping you feet in the stirrups.
 

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I nave tried several different stirrup pads and finally bought these black gripper-wraps. They help, but are far from the instant panacea I was hoping for. I still have to watch maintaining equal weight and having heel down. I think I was looking for a quick fix to a bad habit.
 

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I agree with an earlier poster who said that this happens to all of us, at some time or another. That feeling of uncontrol when the horse transitions without us being ready.


I can say that your stirrup length may have something to do with it. But, more importantly, I think that having your horse transition before you have cued it, and before you are aware of it, it something you want to avoid.



So, your job would be to look for that which happens before the downward transition, and see it before the actual action happens.
There is ALWAYS a clue. Seriously. There is always something that indicates the hrose is thinking about dropping out of the canter. your job is to learn to recognize that, and convince the hrose to let go of that thought, before that thought becomes action.
 

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...I definitely find myself gripping with my legs at this point just so I'm not bouncing around as much in the fast/rough trot, so then when I go to kick I dont have enough weight in the stirrups to keep them in place....How do I keep better balance when the horse ignores my cues and falls out of the canter before I ask them go to down a gait?...
My guess is you are putting too much emphasis on position versus balance. For example, "heels down" is a position. But if you need to push down with your toe to keep the stirrup on, particularly went kicking, do so. Position is a snapshot while riding is a movie. Good position is your default, but you do what you need to do at any given time. When we focus on "balance", our body will adjust as needed for what is happening at that instant. Position is too often the enemy of balance. Riding is fluid, not static.

Two point - I prefer "standing in the stirrups" - helps teach you to let weight flow into your stirrups. Two point should be practiced in my "non-instructor, guy who started riding at 50 opinion" at all gaits and during transitions. Transitions should be practiced not only as something one commands, but as something that happens when the HORSE chooses. An utterly predictable horse is easy to ride, but I've yet to meet an utterly predictable horse!

I consider myself a western rider, but FWIW, I find a half-seat a good way to canter. Or trot. Sitting on a horse is what I prefer to do when walking.

"The verb 'to sit' should be eliminated from our vocabulary where riding is concerned, for the idea it conveys is intrinsically misleading. Were it not for its indecorous connotation the word 'perch' would more aptly suggest the position that the rider should assume in what is commonly described as the 'forward' seat." - Piero Santini, Riding Reflections (1933)
An old thread (2012):

https://www.horseforum.com/english-riding/riding-canter-half-seat-120340/
 

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This is common for so many people! Don't stress! If you are 'running' a horse into the canter from the trot, that can cause an unbalanced canter, which can jostle your stirrups. You also may be riding a horse that makes sudden, jerky downshifts, or maybe has a big, bouncy canter, which can easily move the stirrup around if you don't have the ultimate lower leg strength built in (and that's fine). For example, I have ridden horses that my stirrups NEVER get out of position. I have also ridden (and still ride) horses that I simply cannot keep the stirrup in the right place.

Try to focus on calm, precise asks of the horse. Walk to canter should give a nice movement. Canter to trot should be only when you ask for the downshift...if the horse continually falls out of the movement and you are trying to keep them going, which causes loss of the stirrup position/your balance, I suggest a dressage whip. Just carry it and tap gently behind your foot as you ride the canter to keep them moving forward. It sounds like you may be riding very quiet horses that like to drop out of the canter. I have found that constantly having to nag a horse to move forward can make stirrups move. The horse downshifting without your cue is a problem that I think needs to be worked on. I find I rarely lose my stirrups on forward horses, because I'm not trying to kick them on, I'm focusing on the ride. You want to be in control of the movement; not the horse.

You may also want to try practicing the sitting trot and how well you keep your stirrups doing that. I would practice sitting trot->halt, the movement coming from your seat. This can translate into the canter and being able to downshift with a thought/seat versus pulling on the reins.

In the end, it takes time and practice & sometimes depends on the horse you are riding. Do your best to keep your weight in the stirrup on the ball of your foot and grip with your calves, not your knee/thigh. Try riding more in the halfseat, if that helps keep your weight in the correct spot on the stirrup, which will help you focus on gripping with your calves. Heck, if you have a kind horse that you feel safe on, drop the stirrups entirely!!
 
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