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Discussion Starter #1
Lately I've been noticing that I am having trouble at the canter. I just feel like I'm stiff, bouncing, and not moving with the horse.

I believe this all started happening when I began riding a fairly green horse. The horse costantly changes her stride during the canter, and I have to constantly half-hault. I ride her, and a "normal" horse. So, I am trying to fix the problem on the more trained horse, bit I'm still having trouble.

Does anyone else have this problem? How do I fix it? Is their exercsies I can do at home that fix this?

Thanks in advance:)

*I wanted to add that I ride with a soft hand and very still upper body...
 

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The main thing to do is just relax! (Easier said than done though).
Horses can tell if we're nervous so just try and loosen up and breathe.
 

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If the horse is green then you would be best to take up a "half seat" when cantering on her. That is, you lean forward a bit more than usual and you sit almost in two point, but a bit more of the upper thigh/crotch touching the saddle, just that your seat bones do not bear as much weight as if you really SAT the canter. This will help the green horse find her balance better.

AS you work on the more settle horse at the canter, think about sitting INTO the horse, as if you are actually sitting about 6 inches inside the body of the horse. Look up. Advance your inside thigh just a little, outside hip back a tiny bit and really let your weight fall down into your feet. LET the horse carry you.. Try to do LESS and trust the horse to do her/his job.
Kind of vague but that is what I do when I find that I am getting too far out of the saddle at the canter.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thnaks for the input everyone! I am def. going to give everyones advice a try!
 

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I had a lot of trouble with the canter when I was learning it, and then one day my trainer said, 'move your hips like your in a swing' and for some reason that really worked for me. Just that image of swinging at the park.
 

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This usually happens to me just after I come out of two-pointing in canter. I always sit really leaning forward and it takes a while for me to get relazed again. Just lean back and imagine the rocking motion as if you are on a ship with the waves pushing you, or think about yourself as the horse and following its movements. Heels and a long leg really help take the bounce out of the stride too :) At home, try skipping around really big and exagerated and memorize the feeling of your hips. That right there is the canter. Use that in the saddle. Try stirrupless work...it may help you.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Update----

I rode the green horse last night in my lesson. I tried really sinking in, and leaning forward a bit more. I was amazed with how much leaning forward a bit could do! It was even a lot easier to do half-halts when she got to fast too.

I'm going to try sinking in more with the calmer horse. I'll let you know how it goes after my lesson on Thursday! :)
 

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also to keep in mind better canter is made by more trot - so for the horse that has a hard time at the canter that tells me she/he needs more trot work. try that (if you can - if it's just a lesson horse i understand) and that will likely make the biggest difference.

people often forget that a horse rushing is rarely from a forward/fast horse but more often from an unbalanced/undermuscled horse. it takes a lot more energy to go slow and round and balanced than it does to rush/scoot forward.

sounds like with what you are doing re: sinking into the stirrups and saddle that will help. in addition think of all your weight in your heels and as if your midsecion is like a belly dancer moving with the horse. a big mistake i see is riders trying to hold on to the canter. to move with the horse - no matter how stiff - you need to be soft and relaxed in the saddle.

sounds like you are definitely off to a good start!
 

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what ive told my students is to think of ur waist as a washing machine in a way, follow the horses motion bc the canter is not a back to front motion more of a rolling to the side motion, try cantering and just sink down and b as loose as possible, dont worry about ur position until you get the FEEL of u going w the canter. once u get that feeling u can worry about ur position and ull remember the feel and can strive to get it again
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Thank you for the tips!

Sky-- I've never thought about how the slower, rounded horse is more muscular. That's interesting:) I would love to do morse trot with her, but unfortunately she is a school horse ( not for the beginners though lol)
 

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yup. that's why i always say (and was always taught) you don't get better canter by doing more canter. you get a better canter by doing more trot. i've found that 90% (ok maybe not quite that much but roll with me here haha) of balance, muscling, stiffness, and rushing issues and even many chiro issues can be fixed with a solid trot regiment of conditioning, bending, and changing diagonal (ever few strides while going in the same direction to make the horse use their hind end evenly).

try it sometime - even on a school horse though i know you can't do the full conditioning. but try when going around the arena changing your posting diagonal every 3-6 strides or so without changing direction. a stiff horse will brace that change, pin ears, tense shoulders/neck/back. a looser more balanced horse will not change gait or stride or rhythm at all. my clyde cross couldn't care less. my hot ottb who tends to be stiff to the left starts off ****y then relaxes as he loosens.

it's a GREAT indicator of how lose, balanced, fit, and evenly muscled your horse is. and if you tend to favor one side more than the other also. it's also a great workout to help loosen a tense/cold backed horse esp in winter!
 

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Sky, i think I'm going to be your groupie. So many great ideas come from you (well I think so anyhow). Lots for the beginner to practice and learn from, as ever.
 
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