can't sit the canter

getoverit

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Feb 10, 2006
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Hey..someone help please....i am a visual learner...
I am trying for the life of me to glue my seat bones to the saddle for
what i assume is a more controlled canter....but it feels very awkward...
my instructor thinks I look hillarious! and I agree with her but......please....
someone give me a visual so I know what it should look and feel like.....I am
not that bad a rider but .....when it comes to this i am atrocious!
 

virtuallyhorses

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getoverit said:
I am a visual learner...
I am trying for the life of me to glue my seat bones to the saddle for
what i assume is a more controlled canter....

Unfortunately, with most riding the harder you try the worse it is! :( and for most instructors\riders it is so far in their past and automatic that it is hard to explain. I even find myself yelling to people who I see 'polishing the saddle' and other atrocities 'Do Nothing!' ... and then realise how totally unhelpful that is :eek:

To me, in order to sit the canter well you have to understand how to split your body into 3 parts - the upper body starts from the bottom of the ribcage, the middle\belly\torso whatever you want to call it goes from the bottom of the ribcage to the backside (I won't get into the seat blah blah), the third part is the leg which hangs from the hip. In the canter - all the action is in the belly, the leg hangs the upper body hangs (in midair) and the belly loosely keeps the two bits connected.

What stage are you at with your cantering? I find with most riding you go through multiple phases - from the 'just staying onboard' phase, I probably relearned how to canter 3 or 4 times before getting to the 'ohh you just sit here' phase My article on hte subject might help http://virtualhorse.freewebpage.org/canteringon.html
 

Skib

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Dec 21, 2003
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I always liked Heather Moffet - bought her book because she explaioned rising trot and footfall, and found my teacher through her web site.
Yet, in those early days - as a newcomer to riding, I did not understand what I was reading. I didnt understand some of the specialised language and when I e-mailed her asking for clarification, I never had any reply.
I have just read the article on canter.

I am a graduate and used to obscure academic discourse, but, to be honest, I find her canter instructions confusing and complicated. I can't get my mind round what she is saying. And that is even before I get on a horse. If I tried to apply this advice I think my riding would get worse not better. Just as it would if some teacher shouted too many instructions.
One might suggest that her analysis and language like "being behind the movement of the horse" is designed to help practised riders take a fresh look at their riding.
Not for the likes of New Riders. - I canter easily and very simply on the "do nothing", just breathe and relax approach.

Unlike Mehitabel (first time ever eh?) my experience is that it is the first three steps which are hardest. The canter transition erupts under you and unbalances you, especially if it is a walk canter transition.
So anyone new to cantering needs to understand that change of movement, how the horse is pushing off with one of its hind legs, and be prepared for it. Once the horse was cantering (in my experience) we were on air. And the last thing you need to do, is to think about it too much.
 

eml

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I am very visual too as a learner and teacher. Can't really give you a picture to imagine without seeing what you are doing now but here are some thoughts to play with...

Forget seat bones and visualise loose spring instead of your fourth vertebrae

Think belly dancer...loose middle section of body

Relax do nothing and if seatbones bounce think (do not physically push) tummy forward

Sing 'hickory dickory dock' in time with canter....yes out loud to make sure you are not accidentally holding your breath!

Hope one of those help !!

Skib..I am puzzled...I usually find walk to canter helps those who find the first steps difficult but can then relax into canter...mind you it does depend on the horses transition
 

Skib

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eml - I am puzzled too. Because we see eye to eye. I like your advice and I am a fan of walk to canter too.
My teacher (of whom I will hear no criticism) teaches canter via the walk / canter transition. Like you she has good reason. Explains that the new rider is likely to be sitting more securely in walk than in sitting trot, so at least you get your first taste of canter well balanced on the horse.

But as with everything in riding there are advantages and disadvantages. In previous threads I have been warned that although the rider may be more secure, the movement of the horse in the walk / canter transition is more pronounced.
I feel that may well be true. It was doing walk canter transitions on the lunge that obliged me to work out what was going on under me. Once I had analised it (as I explained on a previous thread), my brain somehow "understood" what was going to happen to my body. Then out hacking I lost any feeling of apprehension. Canter somehow became as easy as walk. And I am convinced it was thanks to that way of teaching.

But since walk / canter transition was problem free for me, if a horse I was hacking offered canter, I would accept straight from walk. Or ask for canter direct from walk the moment we stepped off the tarmac onto the canter stretch.
It was then that I was told (second piece of negative input) that walk canter transition got horses over excited. My walk canter transition was extremely impressive (didnt know that!) but that, if I rode in a nice collected trot before asking for (or accepting the offer of) canter, I might not be so prone to having horses make off with me.
So I have been "good". And have given it up and was cautious about recommending it.
The trouble with being a learner rider is that I believe what I am told by the teachers. But I am not convinced. I dont think the horse gets over excited. I think that in a nice active, collected walk, the horse is rounded up and gets its back legs under it and is poised to go forward fast.
It seems to me that there is a profound ambiguity in good riding. I ride aiming to make it possible for the horse to move freely and easily under me. But when we get what we ask for, our perverse reaction is to assert ourselves as good riders to interfere and take control.
 

kedwards

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If you are a visual learner, perhaps spending some time just watching the experts rider will help burn the image into your memory. While watching videos, imagine what it would feel like to move like the riders you are watching. Then, when you are riding, you can think about mimicking them.

Here is a site that has some great clips that I often use for inspiration. Look through a few of them until you find some examples of a canter you admire, then watch it a few times, even breaking it down frame by frame if it helps.

http://www.horse-gate.com/hengstvideos/list.php4
 

Wally

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I am a visual learner, show me how to do something and I can do it, forever, never forget...... explain it to me on paper or out of the true environment and I am stuffed!

Get Heather Moffetts video, Enlightened Equitation. There are some wonderful demos there on how to canter.

I'd like to bet you are just trying too hard, That's what gets most folk with canter.

Have a mental image of utter stillness in your mind. You are on a Merry-go-round horse, sitting still and tall, taller and taller, up and down, stop trying so hard.
 

Mehitabel

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I dont think the horse gets over excited. I think that in a nice active, collected walk, the horse is rounded up and gets its back legs under it and is poised to go forward fast.

yes, in an ideal world. but when we're talkign about learners who are just beginning to canter, often they have no idea yet of what a rounded and active walk is- so they will try to ask from an average walk, give a big kick because they think that you need to kick harder the faster you wantto gok, horse gets an almighty shock and leaps into it both because of the average walk and the big boot in the ribs. it's very hard when you're just learning to canter, to have the feel to know when the walk is good enough and have the confidence not to boot, but just to ask.
then the horse anticipates the boot and will shoot off when asked for only trot - or if a novice asks for trot a bit too enthusiastically, the horse canters.
 

eml

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Sorry mehitabel I don't usually disagree with you but I do on this. Novice riders never need to get the idea of kicking harder to go faster. I am a great fan of walk to canter transitions for novice riders and actually work on the lunge to get horses and ponies doing them.

You know as well as I do that RS horses and ponies are great creatures of habit and it is quite easy to teach them to walk to a particular corner and go directly to canter off your voice. I teach all kids to canter this way as it gives them less to think about.

Adults vary and need different approaches. With adults I tend to use walk to canter to avoid the horses going long, flat and on the forehand if they are insecure through the transition. Others ( including someone on this board) have canter 'hangups' and are better encouraged to 'run' the horse into canter origionally so they don't do to much thinking...I call it lets trot as fast as we can!!!.

Horses for courses as they say!
 

Mehitabel

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i don't mean that they *need* or should think kick harder = faster - just that it's a common misconception and often however hard you explain it, they still do it. what i was trying to do was explain more skib's instructor's point of view as to why it doesn't necessarily always work and can make the horses excited.

while our ponies do go off the voice, it's only a select few of ours who would go walk-canter with little or no input from the rider, or indeed who will maintain a good enough walk for a half-decent transition to canter with a novice on board.
i used to tend to teach adults to canter out on private hacks - we do a few walk-trot ones, and then introduce canter on our 'lovely stretch' - uphill, enclised either side by hedges, too narrow to overtake - the same place we teach the baby horses to canter.
 

eml

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Can I have your canter track pleeeease. We do have an old railway line on our land we used to use for this purpose but having opted for a 'no hacking' restriction on our insurance don't really feel I can use it.

I am lucky with my ponies, principally because I am the only one to teach with them (E only does career students) that I can actually get a walk-march out of them on voice followed by a caaaaanter squeak and can get at least a few strides out of all of them - well apart from my oldest who having been E's LR pony doesn't do this canter lark unless the kids are totally secure and frowns at me if I suggest otherwise!!
 

Mehitabel

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eml

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I want...

Yes you can't get the same out of ponies with several instructors. Mine tend to see me as the 'boss horse' and a quiet growl will stop incipient bad behaviour. We did try a freelance once and although she was a very good instructor the ponies tended to take the mickey our of her and because she didn't have my long term interest in both children and ponies allowed the sort of things I stamp on, like kicky legs and ponies cutting corners. The fussier you are as an instructor the better your horses/ponies work!!

Sorry gone hopelessly off topic
 

getoverit

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Feb 10, 2006
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streetsville, ontario, canada
newbie

I guess I should have introduced myself in the last thread.
(can't sit the canter)
it's lovely to be here with all the generous people giving me some awesome
tips.
I am a mother of three. Started riding when I was apprx. 39 years.
have been riding about 6 years now and am horse obsessed!
my poor hubbie and kids!

Most of my riding mates are teenage girls which is great 'cause they
keep me young at heart.

:) :) :) :)

thanks for making me feel welcome!

from accross the pond in Canada.
 
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