Cantering

fielder

new irish rider
Aug 22, 2005
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#1
Does anyone have advice on cantering? I have come back to horse riding and did this before but never knew how it happened. I remember something about leg back or leg on girth?
 

Jane&Ziggy

Learning together!
Apr 30, 2010
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#2
My instructions are to sit down, sit up straight, put one leg on the girth and the leg on the side you want him to lead with behind the girth.

When I get it right my pony skips into canter. This is rarely!
 
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carthorse

Well-Known Member
Jan 6, 2006
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#3
Inside leg on the girth, outside leg behind the girth. Don't exaggerate it so much that you end up out of balance though. If you're working in the school it helps you get the correct lead if you ask going into a corner.
 
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Skib

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Dec 21, 2003
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#4
It might be helpful if you told us a bit more about your current riding, whether you used to canter easily, that is with good balance and in control of the speed and direction of the horse? And whether you have tried cantering again or not yet?

There is a correct aid or cue to ask a horse for canter - in fact you may be recommended more than one, but I learned to ride as an older adult and I never learned to use the correct aid properly because horses cantered for me very easily and always on the correct lead. This could be what happened to you in the past?

The most important thing in riding, our RI said, is to prepare the horse for what you are going to ask it to do. So it is what you do in trot (or walk) in the preparation for canter that really counts. It isnt just a question of going faster in trot because a horse cant run into canter. It has to bring its hind leg under its body, so you need more energy but at the same time to gather the horse back, (shorten the rein a little) and then release into canter putting on your leg, if needed.

You are right that people say the inside leg should be on the girth and the outside leg a little back. So if this worked for you in the past, do it.

But it can be a hindrance to newer riders trying to canter RS horses. Or maybe Jane with Ziggy. And it proved a hindrance to me out hacking when I was asking my horse for a particular lead cantering on a straight track. I think that the rider's mind may be on putting their outside leg back. This has two results - the rider is thinking back rather than forward at the moment when you want to create the onward flow of the horse forward into canter. And in older riders it may twist us in the saddle and create tension too. If you simply turn your head looking in the direction of the canter you want (which one normally does at the corner of a school) that has the effect of bringing the outside hip of the rider forward and leaves room for the outside hind leg of the horse to push forward into canter.

You should be able to feel whether or not the horse is primed and ready to canter. If it isnt, dont ask for the canter. Just go round again and wait till the horse feels ready to do it. That is, you have created the situation where canter comes easilly.

However, my first suggestion about returning to canter would be to find a good lunge teacher and ride your first canter on the lunge -
 
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#5
From a rising trot, ride into a corner / circle, sit from the trot, put your outside shoulder back a little which will weight your outside seatbone, simultaneously squeeze with the outside leg slightly back and give with both reins to create space for the horse to move into. The circle will help the horse to strike off on the right lead. Sit back in the saddle and use the outside leg to keep the canter going. It is more about timing than anything - just as with lateral work, you can only influence the leg that is coming of the ground, so you need to ask for the canter as the outside hind leaves the ground.
 
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fielder

new irish rider
Aug 22, 2005
64
5
8
#6
Inside leg on the girth, outside leg behind the girth. Don't exaggerate it so much that you end up out of balance though. If you're working in the school it helps you get the correct lead if you ask going into a corner.
Yes, I remember the corner but could never remember what to do with my legs. It was like as if the horse understood the instructor or just picked up on what the rest were at
 

Calder

Active Member
Jan 26, 2006
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Oxford
#7
It really depends on the horse.

I've been riding a new horse in my lessons lately, and I'm still trying to find the right "buttons", but I cantered him on both leads during my last ride. Among other things, I sat up straight, sat back, threw my hips forward .. and thought 'canter'! I have a tendency to hunch/collapse forward which blocks the horse's movement as I then grip with my knees for balance, so remembering to sit up and back, and to really ride the canter when it comes are important points for me to remember.

The horse may well know what to do, particularly if the instructor is yelling 'canter'!
 

Bodshi

Well-Known Member
Apr 23, 2009
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#8
It really depends on the horse.

I've been riding a new horse in my lessons lately, and I'm still trying to find the right "buttons", but I cantered him on both leads during my last ride. Among other things, I sat up straight, sat back, threw my hips forward .. and thought 'canter'! I have a tendency to hunch/collapse forward which blocks the horse's movement as I then grip with my knees for balance, so remembering to sit up and back, and to really ride the canter when it comes are important points for me to remember.

The horse may well know what to do, particularly if the instructor is yelling 'canter'!
Sitting up is a really good point. I also have a tendency to lean forward and 'throw the reins' at my horse which unbalances him and means he isn't engaged behind to spring forward into canter. My RI had me looking up at the sky on both the upward and downward transition to stop me doing it - not that I'd recommend that method unless you were very comfortable with the horse and the steering lol.
 

carthorse

Well-Known Member
Jan 6, 2006
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#9
It doesn't help that for some reason it's a pace that people train different aids for - over the years I've ridden ones that have the classic inside leg on the girth outside leg behind, inside leg on the girth only, outside leg behind the girth only, shift a seatbone at the right time, and then the stop thinking walk or trot specialists! We don't do it for other paces, I wonder why we do for canter?
 
#10
In my experience it depends at all paces on how the horse has been trained and the instructor's beliefs/system.

Sadly in many cases the two do not coincide - to the frustration of the rider who then can't get the horse to do what they want.

Maybe it is that there is less divergence at paces other than canter?

I used to have real problems in the walk trot transition with Scully - the RI would shout "More energy!" but still Scully would go into trot for a few steps then fall out just as I was trying to get the rhythm to rise! Result - trot was frustrating to say the least! After 2 years training out in Italy I just tap her lightly with the whip and squeeze gently with the legs slightly back and she trots instantly - well trained horse and a rider who knows where her buttons are - more importantly, a RI who knows where her buttons are too!
 
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Skib

Well-Known Member
Dec 21, 2003
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#11
As I posted (above) the horse may well pick up your intent - that is the best kind of riding.
Tho the training of the horse will have an effect, my experience is that it does work on horses one doesnt know, like when riding a RS assessment test. As an RS rider, I have ridden three of these tests and got canter every time.

When other students asked why the horses cantered for me I used to say that the horses knew I liked to canter and I think there is a grain of truth in this. Canter is like learning a language. After a time one becomes fluent and speaks French or German with no effort. It is the same with canter. The more you canter the more effortless it is and the more the horse enjoys it.

However there is a situation in which I put my outside leg back and use it - an RI challenged me to trot up the centre line to x and then canter - to right or left and in that situation one may need to cue direction with one's outside leg.
 
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Jane&Ziggy

Learning together!
Apr 30, 2010
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#12
Intent is certainly important, and energy, too. I find that if Ziggy is in an energetic mood, all I need to do to get a lovely canter is sit down, straighten up, squeeze ever so gently (and sometimes not even that) and think "forward" and we're off. If he's feeling slow, then I have to be more emphatic.
 
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Hope Price

Well known member
Mar 21, 2016
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Colorado
#14
Does anyone have advice on cantering? I have come back to horse riding and did this before but never knew how it happened. I remember something about leg back or leg on girth?
When asking for a canter from a walk is a lot of times easier as the cue can be easier to communicate. Outside leg goes back behind the girth a few inches and inside leg goes on. From a trot you sit (meaning if you were posting you stop and sit the trot), and outside leg behind the girth and inside leg at the girth. Staying tall and breathing will help and keep you from tensing up too much.