Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Canter....What is that?

My sister is up from Florida with my mom and we are having the best time. Great rides through the nursery and great advice from someone I trust. She is sooooooo very helpful. Yesterday we rode over to a friend's farm that has an indoor. My sister's suggestions helped again. After over a year of riding "Lat" it suddenly dawned on me that even when we are riding around the farm I should keep her in frame. Duh!

Today's ride was in the ring late in the day because it was raining again. I always start with a warm up of walking around the farm and doing leg yields in the aisles in between the paddocks, trotting, transitions, etc. etc. Today I made sure that she was also in frame even at a walk. When I finally hit the gate of the ring we are relaxed, supple and ready to work. Ms. Lat's trot was great, she was nice and supple and bending in frame. Our goal today was to work on cantering. The left lead is great (although not collected yet) but the right lead is a battle. I am open to suggestion.

My sister and I were thinking that maybe longeing may be the answer. It will give my mare more confidence and force her to canter in the right lead. We will see. Feel free to make comments or suggestions, I appreciate the input. I will let you know how it works out. The weather tomorrow is suppose to be great and we will give it a shot. :)


  1. Oh, my favorite topic! :) This is something I think about A LOT! :)

    The thing I have found that works well in the canter with Dreamy is to do a couple leg yields at the walk, either on a long side or on a circle, then ask for a trot, get a nice easy trot for a few strides on a circle, and then ask for the canter. Getting her to step underneath her body before the transition improves everything. Also I will do one to two strides of leg yield in a test right before the canter. They are tiny, usually on a circle or corner, and more of an aid to come underneath herself with that hind leg, rather than a full leg yield. Does that make sense?

    Also, try to time your canter aid when her outside hind is coming forward, as that is the first step of a canter stride.

    When Dreamy decides she does not want to pick up the correct lead (happened A LOT last summer to the left), I would counter bend her before I asked for the transition. This helped immensely! Counter bending is something I use a lot. Often she was getting so

    Also, once she understood the canter transition from the trot, my instructor had me asking for the canter from the walk. This really helped her to step up into the canter, rather than fling herself into it.

    I have found that a few good strides of canter is more beneficial than just cantering around and around and around. Since I want to improve the quality of her canter, I come back to the trot/walk when the quality deteriorates. Ideally, you can go from 2-3 good strides and build up to 5-6, then a full circle, then the ring, etc. etc.

    Lastly, I have also found that transitions, transitions, and MORE transitions help a ton. I literally will do 2-3 trot-canter-trot transitions on a 20 m. circle. It teaches her to sit back and ready her body for the upwards transition, because she is expecting it. Granted, anticipation is not usually a good thing, but I found for a canter transition it was. (Dreamy doesn't get nutty about it, or try to rush, so that is also why.)

    I am not a fan of lunging. That is just my personal opinion. Especially having an older horse (she is 18 this year) I am always careful of anything that would put too much torque on her joints. Same reason why I limit the times I jump. (I believe there are only so many jumps in a horse...and with her age, I want her to be sound forever! Or at least as long as possible! ;-)

    Good luck! It is nice to have a "Canter Support Group!" LOL! :D

  2. Yes, thanks for the advice. I had a lesson today and my instructer was saying the same thing now all I have to do is put it into action. We have a hunter show tomorrow but only walk/trot classes. Good luck with Dreamy. Hope to see you in Aug.