Canter crisis!

(26 Posts)

I'm wondering if anyone can help me sort out my canter issues?! Really struggling at the moment to co-ordinate sitting to the trot and giving clear/correct leg aids. I just get stuck in trot. I can visualise it in my head and it all looks so smooth and easy, but in reality I just can't get it together hmm
Also have a tendency to just fall off on the very rare occasion (usually a result if RI screaming 'CANTER!') I do get it going.
Any body who has a magic wand any ideas or advice would be most welcome smile

Fredstheteds Sun 03-Mar-13 22:00:05

Really suggest that you might be over thinking and you are worried/ tense. How long have you been riding.

To canter you need to sit tall but slightly leaning back ( tiny but), heels down. Your outside heel needs to be on the girth and your inside should pop behind.

Do you hack would this help? Just to canter in a straight line. Or if school I would suggest a lunge lesson.

If it would held why not ask for a neck strap, normally an old stirrup leather to grab or a chunk of mane. Always helps me as my cob has a habit of the death wall when cantering!

Littlebigbum Sun 03-Mar-13 23:36:17

Wall of death lol

I've been riding since September. I was on a lunge yesterday, but fell off again blush
I am over thinking it I'm sure - walk and trot are fine. I did the PC walk, trot dressage test before Christmas and loved it - it's just a big stumbling block at the moment; asking for it in the first place and then staying on when I do!!

Oh and I did have a neck strap but managed to fall of anyway!blushblush

mrslaughan Mon 04-Mar-13 09:41:02

I Have trouble staying in Canter - I get 4-5 lovely strides and then loose it. What we worked out on friday is that I am tipping my shoulders ever so slightly forward.
My instructor suggested - and I think she is right, is that when I was taught to ride years ago- for canter I was taught to take up a light seat , so I do it as I should now, but once I have it, go into auto pilot of moving forward, dhorse feels this and breaks back into trot.

Are your core muscles strong enough? I know mine are not and I need to work on this - as it is your abdominals which will give you the stability, as I understand it anyway!

KissingKittyKat Mon 04-Mar-13 10:00:02

MaggieM What is happening when you ask for canter? When you fall off, do you know what specifically is happening to make you fall?

The reason I say this is that when I returned to riding after 15 years out of the saddle I tried re-learning to canter on a riding school horse who was very reluctant to canter, and when asked for canter just trotted faster and faster. The instructor then would get behind him with a schooling whip which he did not like and he would round his back and stick his head down between his knees and charge off into canter, which would unbalance me. Because I used to ride as a teenager I know this was not the 'norm' and changed horse. If this or something similar is happening to you I think you need to change the horse you are learning to canter on, although if you are at a decent riding school I would have thought they would put you on a good horse to learn to canter.

You should learn to canter on a horse who is easy to get to canter and who will make a nice smooth transition into canter even if your position is not 100% perfect. Then you can move on to horses who you have to ask perfectly.

Perhaps also work on your seat and balance more (lots of work in trot with no stirrups perhaps) to improve seat and balance so you are better equipped to canter.

Fred and Littlebigbum what is wall of death?!

Mrslaughlan I have exactly the same problem as you, and also tend to tilt forwards slightly when cantering. Really working on staying upright when I ask for the canter. Like you, I learned to ride years ago so maybe I was also taught to keep a light seat?! I can't really remember. I think I just naturally come forward as it makes me feel more balanced and seems more natural than sitting upright!

mrslaughan Mon 04-Mar-13 10:53:26

The other thing - are you getting a nice forward trot? It really makes a difference to the transition and therefore your balance.....

The other thing is - maybe your just not ready for it yet? Maybe work on your balance and position in trot more......

Butkin Mon 04-Mar-13 11:49:50

Key things when you're learning:

1. Sit up straight and be precise about your leg aids
2. Have a good contact with short reins.
3. Ask for a really powerful trot first.
4. Always ask for a canter on a corner and squeeze with your inside hand so that you strike off on the correct lead.
5. Don't grip with your legs (relax) otherwise this is why you'll lose your stirrups and balance.

If it all goes wrong quickly back to trot, get your self sorted and ask again on the next corner.

lovebeansontoast Mon 04-Mar-13 12:36:20

What Butkin says.

Fredstheteds, I think you have the leg aids the wrong way round. For canter its inside leg on the girth, outside leg behind.smile

SaggyOldClothCatpuss Mon 04-Mar-13 14:55:14

If I was teaching you, I'd stop asking for canter until you are 100% comfy in trot and are able to coordinate yourself properly to ask for canter. Your balance doesnt sound great yet. Sounds like you have a way to go. It'll happen it just takes time.

Ok, so having read all your posts I think I am doing what Butkin mentioned in point 5 and gripping with my legs - we've been working on this for a while and have done some work on the lunge and lots of work without stirrups in trot and canter to try to achieve a deeper seat and more relaxed leg position, but I think that as I start to ask for canter I probably start gripping with my knees again, (default mode I guesss) and yes, when I fall off it's because I've lost a stirrup, usually the outside one.

And yes, yes to a lack of core muscles - I can really feel them today! My instructor (I've just moved to a different yard) kept telling me to sit up tall and so I think they had a bit of a rude awakening yesterday!

Also yes to the leaning forwards - I rode a bit as a teenager but that was 20-odd years ago so god knows what I was taught.

Horse is lovely, very willing, lovely transitions from walk to trot and he loves cantering so it's definately me giving confusing/non-existant aids.

Ant tips for exercises I can do at home to develop some core muscles??

kittykarate Mon 04-Mar-13 20:47:23

Core muscles - push ups, the plank, stomach crunches. Obviously I should do these and don't because I'm a lazy moo.

Are you doing your canter no stirrups at the minute as part of your lessons? Personally I think that would make me grip on more with my knees as I'd have the double uncertainty of 'OMG no stirrups' combined with 'OMG will this canter happen'.

Things that I know I do wrong and may apply to you
- I have a terrible habit of leaning forwards and 'chasing' the canter after a couple of fruitless attempts - my instructor calls it the 'ejector seat' as it doesn't take much to have you going off over the horse's shoulder.
- slightly contradictory aids. So my legs will be giving the correct signals and my hands are so tense I'm holding the horse back. 'driving with the handbrake on'.

See Kitty I can identify with all that as well! Poor horse hmm
He's probably on the verge of a breakdown by the time I've disembarked...

God - no stirrup-free canter attempts though, only trot and walk grin

Tbh if you rue falling off regularly I wouldn't think you are ready for canter work.

Much better to perfect a good active working trot and perfect transitions than a poor canter

Once the trot and transitions are good, canter will come a lot more naturally.

Lots of work on the lunge, no stirrups and really lengthen and deepen the seat

Korma I only fall off when I canter!

Korma I only fall off when I canter!

Sorry, posted to soon...
But yes I understand what you're saying - patience and all that...grin

Littlebigbum Mon 04-Mar-13 21:32:57

There is so much to be said for riding the right horse but it will come. I like to get peeps in to canter over a trotting pole, sort of jump in to canter. I know that sound terrible but it sort of focus's the mind.
Wall of death is a motor bike stunt thing where they ride up the circular/vertical wall. I'll find a link
www.youtube.com/watch?v=hLsdwQvNtOw

kittykarate Mon 04-Mar-13 21:47:29

Definitely patience, and maybe have a little mental check list when you are preparing for the canter.

So something like 'sit, sit up (explicitly stop leaning forwards), relax hands, squeeze'. When I'm sure in myself what I'm supposed to be doing, I can actually get on with doing it.

saintmerryweather Mon 04-Mar-13 22:05:08

The first time i cantered without stirrups i went straight from walk to canter. maybe you should try that as there is no trot to unbalance you? You just need to get the horse going nice and forward, sit deep and ask very firmly for canter, with a big chunk of mane

Kittty I'm going to try and memorise that. Am having another lesson on Thursday so will let you know how it goes...

50BalesOfHay Tue 05-Mar-13 10:12:01

Try saying 'tummy out' to yourself in canter. It will make you sit on your bum, with your back nice and straight.

kittykarate Tue 05-Mar-13 10:12:35

I'm not going to pretend I'm a great guru, I have a troubled relationship with cantering after I got bucked off by an evil school horse (quickly spirited out of the school and sold on shortly after). I keep looking at that Heather Moffat simulator thing and thinking how good it would be to have a go at it.

Speak about your uncertainties to the instructor - for me the key thing was for me to be in control of the transition whether it happened or not. So no chasing me with a whip, I'll flick the horse if anyone is going to do it, if anyone was going to shout CANTER it would be me. Also building up from a really short, just a few steps in canter, bringing it back down to trot on my command meant that if I was getting unbalanced I knew I could bring it back down to trot and be safe.

It also could just be that the horse you are riding has an untidy canter transition. I rode a former trotting race horse who had lovely paces in walk and trot (obviously) but when it came to a canter transition he would either a) trot at racing speed (see wall of death) or b) kind of throw all of his legs out at once, and not move rhythmically for few strides until he'd worked out what he was doing. This meant that if I wasn't sat deep and upright it was like sitting on a washing machine going into the spin cycle.

CooEeeEldridge Tue 05-Mar-13 14:33:53

I'm another that has a habit of leaning forwards in canter and causing horse to rush into it unevenly. I'm fine out hacking though, too much thought in the school I think!

I read a tip (either on here, or oh H&h) that said to say out loud what to do, so for me going into trot - canter transition, I'd say: 'reins (habit of dropping contact), sit up (habit of leaning forwards) inside leg / outside leg (to remind me!), CANTER!' (For both of us). It really helped concentrate my thinking, and after a few times you don't need to do it anymore.

horseylady Tue 05-Mar-13 14:48:11

Hehehe this reminds me of an old instructor. In canter we had to say onica, ponica, super sonica and just repeat when in canter. Maintained the Rhythem well!!

As for trot to canter, good active trot, practice your sitting trot and relax. Maybe say the rhyme above to help you!!

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