ds1 having trouble cantering(9 Posts)
My ds1 is 11 and so fed up - his 7 year old sister can canter without bouncing all over the place but despite the fact he has been hacking out with me for 2 years now, and wants to be the next fox-pitt, he can't manage to keep his bottom on the saddle when cantering. He is due to start lessons next weekend rather than mummy trying to teach him but I am at a loss what to suggest. We have done loads of sitting trots and lunging without stirrups and reins and he has a reasonable seat but it all falls apart when he canters.
Any suggestions please?
I sympathise because DD (6.5) is struggling as well. The trouble we are having is that her experienced lead rein pony is not used to cantering so it is a novice leading a novice. As she is just starting off doing First Ridden classes she needs to learn to canter over this Winter ready for next season.
We've been getting an older child (who is a very good rider) to school the pony but he is very dynamic in canter and DD finds it difficult to sit to him when he strikes off. She is fine in a straight line but is having trouble cornering.
We are considering sending her for lessons at a riding school where, hopefully, their plods will be more experienced and will have a smoother canter if she gives the right aids. Not sure if this will work but will let you know.
Is it possible that as Butkin has suggested it's just a case of your DS and DPony just don't "gel"? As adults it's easy for us to articulate "that horse's stride is just too bouncy/fast/slow for me".
Ah you've just brought back memories of DD1 years ago struggling with rising trot. We thought she would never get the idea.
Sorry, just drifting off there for a moment.
When you say lessons next weekend, is that on his own pony? If possible, I'd do what Butkin is going to do and go to a riding stables with ploddy sorts who know exactly when to strike off and will generally have smooth canters. Presumably if he wants to be the next Fox-Pitt he's not tensing up through nerves is he?
Although you may well find that with an instructor rather than mum, there may be a breakthrough. I know (even now) DD listens far more keenly to an instructor than to me.
Thanks for all your advice, his lessons are on his own pony but she is very well schooled and my 7 yr old manages fine on her. It may be that he is tensing up as he is getting really frustrated about it so will look at this when he rides tonight. I don't think it is the pony as he has the same problem on my 14.2.
It is frustrating when they seem to listen to everyone except mum isn't it?
I had this problem too and i'm considerably older than 11! My instructor had me ride a circle at trot and do lots of transitions up to canter and down to trot again ie. half a circle at trot half at canter. You concentrate on the transitions so you relax in the saddle and sit deeper. HTH!
Most often you will find that it is down to tensing up as they go into canter, the thighs and back tense making them rise up out of the saddle, of course that makes it harder for the pony who responds by striking off differently than they would normally. After a while it can become a habit between the two of them that is hard to break.
I would recommend swapping him onto a different pony for a while and doing lots of transitions, get him to really concentrate on staying loose and relaxed as he moves up and down the paces. my instructor had me on a lunge line with my arms out to the sides and no stirrups, my only goal was to keep my limbs totally floppy through all changes.
Once he is used to the transition on the other pony your pony should have had time to relax back into being ridden by your son (don't allow him to canter your pony at all for the time he is using the different pony). With luck the first time he asks your pony to canter again he should be nice and relaxed and your pony will see that he does not need react to the aid IYSWIM.
Have you tried using light seat? I teach some quite novice adults and sometimes they really restrict the horse by gripping or bumping around and the horse physically can't canter. By putting a neckstrap on and going into light seat, the horse's back is freed up. Can he canter when out on a hack? Sometimes it is easier if pony is totally trustworthy, you have a suitable gently sloping hill with soemthing to make them stop at the end. When outside you are not having to think so much about the aids and it is more natural to use a light seat as well. Also, is there a vaulting group nearby as vaulting can be one of the best ways to introduce canter? I work with riders with special needs and some of them are able to canter in the really controlled situation of vaulting but wouldn't on their own. When you are vaulting there is a thick pad and huge handles to hold on to. Also, the horses are used to movement on the back so will not be phased by a bit of bumping. It may appeal to boys as there is a strong gymnastic element, requiring quite a bit of strenth.
Could also be that guys find it harder to canter than girls as to canter properly you really need to be sat on your seat bones, be loose and relaxed through your lower back and pelvis and rock through your hips.
Both genders find this hard as the suppleness required through the hips is quite extreme.
However, girls can compensate by rocking forward onto their crotches and gripping with the knee slightly to absorb some of the movement. Boys can't do this as they then whack their balls on the saddle. So they tend to sit back and brace their feet against the stirrups. This causes the lower back to tense and the bottom to bounce a lot more.
Could you try teaching him to go into light seat in the canter (more of a galloping/jumping position) and work lots on his sitting trot for now. Come back to the 'sitting' canter when he can achieve a soft relaxed, perfectly balanced sitting trot.
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