Mumsnet does not check the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you're worried about the health of your horse, please speak to a vet or qualified professional.
Problem getting canter - please pass on some wisdom!
Cherryontop99 · 26/11/2012 09:24
Just getting back into riding after ten years out of the saddle. Have had a couple of lessons at a couple of different riding schools. In my lessons I have not been able to get the pony into canter. The technique I am using is go into sitting trot, in the corner of the school ask for canter by inside leg on the girth and putting outside leg behind the girth and squeezing/ kicking. Am I doing this right? It has not worked on the last two lessons (different ponies). In my last lesson the instructor got behind my pony with a schooling whip to spur him on and he did go into canter but with his head right down and arched his back and I nearly fell off but managed to stop him.
When I was riding ten years ago I never had any problems getting canter, but back then I was having lessons on privately owned livery horses and used to ride some good quality dressage horses and I could do walk to canter transitions easily :o
Is it me or is it that some riding school ponies just won't canter?! Any tips greatly appreciated.
TheWombat · 26/11/2012 09:44
I had problems getting my horse to canter too, when I started lessons last year :). I think it's quite common and it does get better as the clarity of your aids improves.
A couple of things that I found helpful:
Before you ask for canter, make sure the horse is doing an active trot, not a 'ploddy' one. If he's already motoring along in trot when you sit and ask for canter, he will understand the instruction more clearly.
As you stop rising and sit in the saddle, sit deep and don't pull on the reins. If they are already nice and short when you're trotting, you don't need to shorten them any more. If you shorten them, it might feel to the horse like you're putting on his brakes.
Use your voice as an extra aid - lots of praise when he does a good fast rising trot, and change to 'canter!', as you apply your leg aids. Keep praising, clicking your tongue, and keep your leg on if you feel he might go back to trot again. I have mobility problems so I find it hard to give clear leg aids - and voice is key to me being able to tell my horse what to do!
Are your knees relaxed? Are you holding your breath? I do this sometimes - and the tension transfers straight to the horse!
Because my legs are not very strong, my instructor gives me a whip so that if the horse is not responding to my first leg aid, I can use the whip instead. She tells me this is fairer to the horse than applying a lot of seemingly meaningless and confusing kicks. She was very careful to show me how to use it correctly. As my riding improved I found I needed it less and less. These days the horse responds just to my voice, and I love it when I praise him for being good, and he whinnies back to me !
I am still a novice so you might already know all this - but I am sure others will be along in a minute to give you (and me) better tips! :)
BlueChampagne · 26/11/2012 12:34
I'm sure it's not you, it's riding school ponies who can see a way out of doing some extra work! A stick is a good idea. In addition to the good advice above, make sure you're sitting up, not tipping forwards, and consider a half halt before the transition to get their attention.
basildonbond · 26/11/2012 14:09
when dd first started trying to get the riding school ponies to canter she was shortening her reins too much, giving them a very confusing signal
now she's much more confident and doesn't have any problems - although she was on a hack in the summer and the pony she was on was sooo laidback it would barely go above a walk and there was no way it was going to canter so sometimes it is the pony!
ThatVikRinA22 · 26/11/2012 22:04
my instructor goes mad if you kick - she says its a discipline thing only but none of her horses are typical school plodders.
how good is your instructor? the moment i send a mixed signal to my horse she is down on me like a ton of bricks so i now understand how my reins need to be, how my legs needs to be, how to 'squeeze' a horse on (she says you must use legs and hands together!) and no mixed signals. (woe betides me if i do!)
i have not cantered properly yet but i have accidentally told my horse to canter by using just a little too much pressure (squeeze!) in the calf when in trot.
Zazzles007 · 27/11/2012 06:41
Cherry, if the instructor had to chase your horse with a whip in your last lesson, that would suggest that the horse is a bit sour, and its not necessarily you. Some of these riding school horses do get a bit bored of going round and round in lessons several times a day. Quite understandable really.
It does sound like your techinique is correct, but without being able to see you ride, its hard to tell. If you are only learning to canter correctly, I would ask the instructor for a horse that it is bit more amenable to the aids so that it strikes off into canter when you first ask for it. That will help you get your confidence up, and teach you how it should feel.
Hope this helps.
SaggyOldClothCatPuss · 27/11/2012 12:33
Horses only ever do what you tell them. If a riding school pony is messing you about, it's probably because it knows it can and you are just not secure and confident enough to tell it firmly. We had Joe Whittaker doing lessons at our riding school, and he got on the grumpiest shittiest most disobedient Shetland there, and made it do exactly what he wanted! It was great fun! Just keep trying, speak to your instructor and persevere. Changing horses might help short term, but not learning how to deal with buggers won't help in the long term.
NotGoodNotBad · 27/11/2012 19:52
It does depend on the horse. Mine is a bit of a plod, but will go into canter quite easily.
The most common problem is that they just trot faster instead of cantering. If they're racing along in a speedy trot it helps to slow them and steady them, rather than making them go faster in the hope that they will just have to canter then, and ask again for canter. Also, counterintuitively, don't lean forwards. If you sit up (it may feel like you're sitting back) the horse will find it easier to lift up into canter.
Butkin · 27/11/2012 23:28
Technique is right but be riding him forcefully in trot first and when you sit drive through your pelvis as well.
I'd be tempted to give him a tap with a schooling whip. Riding school ponies will take the mick if you aren't committed.
All good practise for when you ride something more responsive.
DolomitesDonkey · 29/11/2012 17:21
Agree with saggy.
Also concentrate on making him come up and under rather than trotting like a lunatic with head up in air/thrust forward - a horse finds it very difficult to strike off when unbalanced like that.
Legs, arse & ditch the washing line reins.
JRsandCoffee · 29/11/2012 18:41
Sounds like we're dealing with a school pro who will probably not be terribly helpful so.....
Second everyone who says a nice brisk, up together trot is needed. You also may find it helpful to practice a bit of sitting trot for itself rather than just for canter. As you go into sitting trot grow tall and try and relax into it rather than frantically driving forward, don't tip your body. Inside leg on gives the aid to go forward, outside back and then forward again is the indicator to canter. If you get ignored ask for a schooling stick and tap to back up the inside leg. Don't kick with the outside leg, however tempting!!!
Good luck, sometimes it just takes time to get back into it!
Wonders how long she needs to leave it before climbing back on post birth, probably need to get back into johds........
NotGoodNotBad · 30/11/2012 08:29
Can help to lift your inside hand as well.
Quilty · 30/11/2012 12:23
As people have said, setting up the trot before you ask is key, you want impulsion but not speed. Ask your instructor about half halts, these are so important! If you ask for canter and the trot just get faster and faster , then collect the pony again and ask in the next corner when you've got a good trot. Also a tap with the schooling whip on a stubborn pony is much better than over using the leg aids. Once the horse knows you mean it, you'll be away. It'll take time but something will "click" and then you'll wonder what the problem was! Good luck with it :)
willyoulistentome · 30/11/2012 14:53
Riding school horses and ponies can be so bored and sour, as everyone has said. They will have been ridden by lots of beginners / kids and unless they are also schooled regularly by staff or working pupils, may well not really recognise the correct aids as so many of the people who ride them don't use them so they will have been getting all sorts of versions of the 'canter aids'. I expect everyone who has even ridden in a riding school will be familiar with the pony cutting corners or napping back to the end of the 'ride' instead of going into the corners properly.
Assuming there is nothing actually wrong with what you are doing, and it sounds fine to me, I agree with a back up tap with a schooling whip or stick to stop the horse taking the piss. Once the horse gets the message, it will obey your leg.
Also agree the trot must be active, but not TOO fast and headlong.
You wil get nice and fit practicing!!
To comment on this thread you need to create a Mumsnet account.