Cantering leaves husband sore..wife worried!

Old Grey Mare

New Member
Oct 29, 2000
Maryland, US
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Sounds like a tabloid headline, no? Well, here's what I'd like some help with. My husband bit the dust twice in one lesson yesterday..(he's bruised, otherwise fine) both times at the canter, both times, in the corner.

He tells me and our instructor that he just can't keep his balance as he heads into the turns. Although I notice even in the straigtaway, he seems to get himself pitched forward and has a hard time keeping himself collected.

Do men have a tougher time with this? He is @190 lbs, just a hair under 6 feet,and like most men, carries most of his weight in his upper body.

Our instructor feels two things: Dave needs to develop strength, work on balance of course, and that he'd benefit from another horse (he was on a pretty little guy yesterday,and it didn't help that his horse was eager to get back to the barn since it was near feeding time) But this isn't the first time my husband, Dave, has had a challenge in the canter. He's been on my very favorite, an old gelding called Magnum, whose canter feels like a gentle rocking. But my husbandjust seems to get disorganized, almost like he's taken by surprise by the forward motion of the horse, even though he's a pretty controlled rider.

Anyway, any ideas or tips from you all would be appreciated..especially you guys, who might have some advice..


New Member
Apr 28, 1999
Hertfordshire, UK
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Why does the instructor feel that Dave needs to develop strength? It's usually the opposite; controlled, tight muscles don't let you relax and go with the movement of the horse.
Does the instructor do any work to help Dave feel where his seatbones are? So he will be able to tell when he has lost balance and tipped forward.
Is he able to have lunge lessons so he can develop his balance without having to worry about corners etc. Anyone would tense up if they anticipated being dislodged on a corner.
I tend to top forward, especially on my own horse when he tries to work on his forehand. I had lots of lunge lessons on a good schoolmaster and was told which bits of my body were tensing up, sometimes I had to be reminded every couple of strides and gradually I could stay soft with the horse for longer. The instructor also did lots of work helping me to identify exactly when my weight tipped off my seatbones. I have managed to transfer this to my own horse, and he is going much better, I feel much more secure.

All the best.

Old Grey Mare

New Member
Oct 29, 2000
Maryland, US
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maybe I meant endurance, but Dave (my husband) often complains his legs and ankles tire easily.

Dave will likely be placed back on my favorite horse, a wonderful schoolmaster with a gentle rocking canter, and a nice comfy wide body feel. (I don't know how else to describe it, but this gelding feels like sinking into a comfy sofa!)

We'll ask about both the longeing and working on helping Dave get a feel for his seat bones in the saddle. Did I mention the irony of the fact that Dave has a better sitting trot than I do? I was the one bouncing like a sack of potatoes on that exercise until I was made to slip my feet out of the stirrups. Worked like a charm!

I expect we'll take a step or two backward to solve this, but meantime, I appreciate the input. I learn so much from this site!


New Member
Jul 19, 1999
Brighton, Sussex
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Sounds like the leaning forward is the problem. Maybe you should get him to shorten his stirrups a few holes and then try cantering in the jumping position. That may well improve his balance and give him a chance to get used to the canter rhythm.
Alternatively it may help his balance if he holds onto a martingale neckstrap (or a stirrup leathewr used as a substitute)
And as a journalist, I have to say that the headline would probably have been CANTER MAKES MY HUBBY GRUBBY (as he keeps ending up on the floor!)
Good luck,


Ingrid W

New Member
Sep 18, 1999
Mississauga, Ontario, Canada
What I did

when I first got my Maybelle was to drop my stirrups for the canter because I was was too forwards on her. I could only canter in two point and she was just a little heavy on the forehand so that she constantly pulled me forward. With no sirrups, I had no choice but to sit and sit deep. Now I am completely comfortable and competent at the canter in a proper full seat. My balance is excellent even if she does a sudden shy away from a scary arena door.

Old Grey Mare

New Member
Oct 29, 2000
Maryland, US
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Good advice!

Ingrid: I think you're right..working without stirrups might be just what we both need..I know it helped me get somewhat balanced in my sitting trot, and prepared me for the canter...

Neil: I especially like your headline: is Rupert Murdoch after you?

Thanks all, any more tips are more than welcome..I'm curious to what other people have found helpful.


Well-Known Member
Apr 16, 2000
Try lots of transitions in canter. Only canter a few strides then come back to trot, before you start to loose the balance.


Ex Member
Dec 30, 2000
Rein Length

I find that if you lengthen your reins at canter, you can sit back and absorb the motion of the horse better, whereas with short reins, you're more likely to go into fprward position and lose your balance.
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