Cantering in the school

CMP

Active Member
Jan 15, 2010
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I took Robin into the school after our hack on Monday to have a wee canter as he is like a charging bull when cantering on a hack. He just takes off, head down and yee ha. It's not much fun as he is very strong.

I really am rubbish at schooling though. I'm fine in a lesson but not so good when left to my own devices.

Anyways, I sit some trotting with no stirrups which was fine, some rising trot and then asked for canter but I'm just rubbish. I just loose all coordination.

I am not a fan of cantering in the school but I think it's because I'm not good at it. I was doing that rushing trot thing but not quite going into canter. When I finally got him to do it, I could not keep him going, lost my stirrups and was balancing on my reins (not done that in about a year). Robin does not like a lot of contact in his mouth (so I'm told - only been sharing 3 weeks) so balancing on reins was bringing him back to trot.

I was just rubbish. Can anyone give me some tips? I was used to riding Mac and we were fine but I want to be able to ride any horse properly and not look like I was cantering for the first time!!

Please help! Oh, I'm getting a lesson on Friday but was just looking for tips in the meantime.
 
Y

Yann

Guest
It's very difficult to ride properly when you're having to work harder than the horse to get them to do something, so I wouldn't be too critical. Was your horse tired after the hack? Perhaps taking him in the school before you go out might be worth a try? Sounds like the lessons will be useful for him too :)
 

Skib

Well-Known Member
Dec 21, 2003
8,583
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London
I am another who for ages had problems cantering in the school.
But this isnt really about that is it? Three weeks is early days with a new horse. What you are actually after is control of canter on hacks and I would begin by improving your control overall by getting and keeping his attention out hacking.

Most of my learning to ride and teaching horses how I expected them to behave was done out hacking. This might be hard if you are in a group - either you need to be alone or with a friend who will allow you to work with the new horse out on the bridle track.

I would work on very exact walk trot transitions and only when he is listening, insert a few steps (only) of canter. You also need to learn nice downward transitions from canter. If he charges away in the upward transition, ask your RI for a lesson in how to control the transition to canter. . Or how to slow the canter immediately, using your back. Because if you dont check it at once, as you say, the head will go down and his strength is greater than yours.

I would also get his attention on yourself rather than on any other rider by doing the exercise where one rider stops as the other continues in trot may be 20 or 30 yards, then the rider who is ahead stops and the other rider trots to catch up and pass.

Eventually (and I wouldnt hurry to canter this week before your lesson) I move on to riding (all of this out hacking) 20 paces canter, 20 paces trot alternating, including on the fastest canter stretches. One can also be fussy and ask for a particular canter lead each time one asks for canter out hacking (often neglected). The important thing is that the horse realises you are actively riding it, even in canter? Not leaving everything to him.
Also I once had an RI make me ride trot the whole way up our fastest canter stretches, 12 paces rising, 12 paces sitting and 12 paces forward seat, rejecting canter altogether so the horse doesnt think that every time you sit in trot you are asking for faster or for canter.

Dont try to combine controling the new horse on a hack and getting his attention with school exercises designed to improve your riding - like riding with no stirrups. You need to be very stable in the saddle and as you say not being bumped about and clinging to the reins. On a hack, the secret is that you are the person in charge.

On safety grounds, I dont agree to ride a horse whose canter on a hack I cant control. But since this is a share horse you may want to persist for a bit. But for the time being you want to limit yourself and the horse to situations where you are in total control and he is not. And move on from there, one tiny step at a time? Sharing or owning a horse is a long term thing. Dont set your heart on impressing the RI - instead, pick her brains about this one particular problem.

I dont have this problem currently as both the horses I ride I have ridden for about 6 years. But one of them will definitely put her head down if given the chance. Once she tries this in canter, I was told by a very good RI show jumper, just to lift one hand (with rein) quite high and quite sharply to get her attention and the head comes up too. But to be honest, if she is listening to me out hacking, one doesnt always want to insist on the head being up in canter. Just to chill out and relax.
 

beakysian

New Member
Mar 26, 2008
1,001
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0
Durham, UK
Interesting advice Skib - canter has always been my sticking point but when riding various flighty RS horses I haven't had the chance to build up that understanding with the horse. Lots for me to think about here..

Look forward to hearing how you get on with your share CMP :)
 

Cassie_

New Member
Jul 29, 2010
138
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Reading, Berkshire
I have a friend whos horse is very strong and flighty so she takes her out on a mostly empty stomach because she finds that if she has eaten not long before a ride she's bouncing off the walls and full of too much energy!

I'm awful for losing stirrups so I can't help you there, and tbh my canter is pretty much like I'm on a space hopper lol.

Have you tried doing some lunge work in the school instead?
 

CMP

Active Member
Jan 15, 2010
1,713
11
38
It's very difficult to ride properly when you're having to work harder than the horse to get them to do something, so I wouldn't be too critical. Was your horse tired after the hack? Perhaps taking him in the school before you go out might be worth a try? Sounds like the lessons will be useful for him too :)

I was working very hard. I think you might be right about going into the school first, he is not mega fit so I maybe was trying to do too much.
I do think my riding is the main issue! I'm looking forward to my lesson. :biggrin:
 

CMP

Active Member
Jan 15, 2010
1,713
11
38
I am another who for ages had problems cantering in the school.
But this isnt really about that is it? Three weeks is early days with a new horse. What you are actually after is control of canter on hacks and I would begin by improving your control overall by getting and keeping his attention out hacking.

Most of my learning to ride and teaching horses how I expected them to behave was done out hacking. This might be hard if you are in a group - either you need to be alone or with a friend who will allow you to work with the new horse out on the bridle track.

I would work on very exact walk trot transitions and only when he is listening, insert a few steps (only) of canter. You also need to learn nice downward transitions from canter. If he charges away in the upward transition, ask your RI for a lesson in how to control the transition to canter. . Or how to slow the canter immediately, using your back. Because if you dont check it at once, as you say, the head will go down and his strength is greater than yours.

I would also get his attention on yourself rather than on any other rider by doing the exercise where one rider stops as the other continues in trot may be 20 or 30 yards, then the rider who is ahead stops and the other rider trots to catch up and pass.

Eventually (and I wouldnt hurry to canter this week before your lesson) I move on to riding (all of this out hacking) 20 paces canter, 20 paces trot alternating, including on the fastest canter stretches. One can also be fussy and ask for a particular canter lead each time one asks for canter out hacking (often neglected). The important thing is that the horse realises you are actively riding it, even in canter? Not leaving everything to him.
Also I once had an RI make me ride trot the whole way up our fastest canter stretches, 12 paces rising, 12 paces sitting and 12 paces forward seat, rejecting canter altogether so the horse doesnt think that every time you sit in trot you are asking for faster or for canter.

Dont try to combine controling the new horse on a hack and getting his attention with school exercises designed to improve your riding - like riding with no stirrups. You need to be very stable in the saddle and as you say not being bumped about and clinging to the reins. On a hack, the secret is that you are the person in charge.

On safety grounds, I dont agree to ride a horse whose canter on a hack I cant control. But since this is a share horse you may want to persist for a bit. But for the time being you want to limit yourself and the horse to situations where you are in total control and he is not. And move on from there, one tiny step at a time? Sharing or owning a horse is a long term thing. Dont set your heart on impressing the RI - instead, pick her brains about this one particular problem.

I dont have this problem currently as both the horses I ride I have ridden for about 6 years. But one of them will definitely put her head down if given the chance. Once she tries this in canter, I was told by a very good RI show jumper, just to lift one hand (with rein) quite high and quite sharply to get her attention and the head comes up too. But to be honest, if she is listening to me out hacking, one doesnt always want to insist on the head being up in canter. Just to chill out and relax.

Thank you so much for taking the time to write such a detailed post. I wont be riding before Friday so my lesson is the next time I will ride. I try to stick to just one friend to go out hacking with as he does tend to get a bit silly in company. What I will say is that when we canter on a hack, he will stop or slow when I ask but it is not an enjoyable experience so it's just walk and a but of trotting for now.
His owner does not ride him much now at all but he was used to being ridden at speed and usually with just one other horse.

I have taken your comments on board and I will of course be reporting back on our progress.

:biggrin:
 
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