Back riding yet again tips on canter and horse?


New Member
Jan 15, 2012
north wales, uk
I realise my last post was in 2012,

just after that i loaned a green horse + green rider BIG MISTAKE,
The horse constanly reared my riding improved but it was a big mistake, but i got pregnant with my second child so had to stop riding.

Since i have started group lessons at the first stable i ever went to the instructor remembered me so agreed i could go into the group lesson (the only day i can do at the moment is group lessons only)

And i cantered on my first lesson which i didn't feel safe.

So far ive had 5 group lessons my walk and trot (sitting & posting) are great,
My canter on the other hand is another story, i lose my outside stirrup i struggle keeping to the outside of the arena and i look like im about to cry everytime i canter (no idea why as i feel so happy like im flying) any tips?

Also i know ive only been back at it 5 weeks and im re-learning but i swear the horse im on refuses to listen to my aids,
As we take it in turn to trot or canter around the arena while the others walk when im in front walking the horse im on refuses to walk no matter how much i kick him on then when its my turn to trot or canter still refuses to listen to my aids and only seems to move on my instructors command when she either clicks or says his name,
It feels like im on a pony ride so to speak or is it just me re-learning and being naieve?


Well-Known Member
Apr 30, 2017
Gosh, a few months ago I swear you were me!

Are your stirrups the right length? No worries if they are. I found having mine one hole shorter has helped my position a bit. I found reminding myself "heels down!" Every time my mind went blank (often) helped too.

One thing I realised is that I needed to ride more positively. And rather than being too polite in my aids- positive/firm was better- giving myself permission to be bossy!

I found mastering a much better sitting trot was a huge help- the transition from rising -> sitting -> canter was awful. I was hugely unbalanced in sitting trot, so if I wasn't balanced before the canter I wasn't going to be balanced in the canter! Also rising -> sitting was an awful transition (teeth chattering, the works), but walk -> sitting trot was fine. Once I got a better sitting trot and was balanced, I could apply my aids better.

Once in the canter I needed my reins shorter- but more than that I just needed to put my shoulders back and down- all of a sudden my reins were the right length. Who knew?!

Imagining I was riding the horse forward into the bridle was a good mental image. Another thing I've learned is rather than kicking - squeeze them like a tube of toothpaste. When they respond, release. That way they then respond to the release, rather than the nagging leg... if they don't respond (I mentally give them a count of one... two...) then tap with the stick -dressage whip preferably- next to my leg.

While cantering I have literally only just "got" the point in his stride at which to put my leg on (when my bum is in the deepest contact with the saddle- leg!). And trying to almost do miniature pelvic thrusts in canter to ride up the pommel of the saddle has helped keep my arse on the seat.

I might have totally waffled here, but thought I'd tell you what I've learned since being back in the saddle since September last year.

Well done for getting back in the saddle. It's not easy with small people!


Well-Known Member
Dec 21, 2003
For years and years I was scared to canter in the school -Then at a Mark Rashid clinic I watched him teach a regular student of his, a middle aged lady. She had previously come to clinics with her elderly horse and he did not canter.So her arrival with a new younger horse involved Mark enquiring about canter. I guess many experienced riders remain uncertain about risking canter but he persuaded her to let him see the horse canter.
After watching her, Mark said he wasnt surprised she was nervous of canter because she had neither brakes nor steering. He showed her how much shorter her reins needed to be to get the rein contact needed in canter.
This was a very important lesson to me. Out hacking I rode and cantered a horse that liked a long rein. Riding canter with a shorter rein requires the rider to keep their hands still in canter which isnt easy for a new rider - especially as you need to keep them soft to allow the horse to go forward. But keeping your hands still is a point to remember.
From your description of the horse turning in, it sounds as if you havent steering in canter - and hearing someone else taught enabled me to go home and canter in the school. Problem solved.
It is psycholgically good to be told that it isnt your bad riding - just that you are riding in a way that doesnt give you brakes or steering.
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