How to sit to canter?


New Member
Aug 10, 2009
County Durham
I have recently started cantering again after losing all my confidence in it and i am now not scared to ask for the transition (Not that when i ask its very neat at all :banghead:). I have been trying to sit to it for ages-With no help from my instructor:banghead:- but i cant seem to be able to keep my bum stuck to the saddle and thats partly why i lost my confidence in the first place. :furious:
Does any one have any good tips to help sit to it? :furious:


New Member
Jan 24, 2011
I would do lots of work sitting trot etc and if you can sitting trot without stirrups and keep practicing ... get your bum nice and deep, keep your legs in contact and try not to let them shoot forward?
Good luck


Active Member
Jan 4, 2003
Bracknell, Berkshire
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Have a look at these vids (4th one down is canter). Basically canter is like skipping but with one or another leading leg. Try it on foot (in private if you don't want people laughing). If you put your hands on your hips you will notice that they make a backward egg shaped circle. If you put your hand in the small of your back you will notice how much movement you need there. When you canter imagine you are skipping and making the backward circle. The emphasis is on the "up" part of the movement not on the "down". So ONE, two, three etc. Remember if your horse is on say the left leg, you must imagine skipping with your left leg leading (ie left hip slightly in front of right hip and visa versa). You must try to stay as upright as possible, otherwise the small of your back cannot make the correct movement. Give it a go. It is easier with a horse who has a nice "uphill" canter, but when you stop bouncing or pushing/polishing the saddle most horses will reward you with a good canter. EE.htm


Super Moderator
Staff member
Jan 6, 2006
Trying to sit often has the opposite effect because you get all tight & tense.

Is there a horse in the school that has a nice, rhythmical, uphill canter? If so see if you can arrange a few lunge lessons on him/her to work on your canter. If there isn't then I'd seriously consider a few lessons elsewhere where they do have one, particularly if your RI isn't being very helpful (I can't stand RIs who think helping their riders is beneath them :stomp:). You need to concentrate on keeping your hips open & relaxed, your back supple & sitting up & all of these are so much easier if a horse will maintain a balanced, lifted canter on it's own. If you can relax without collapsing then you'll find you automatically start making the movements kathyt1 describes & once you've got the feel of it it will be easier to take to riding less balanced horses. But it will be so much easier if you can find a schoolmaster - horses are often the best teachers.


New Member
Feb 10, 2008
Agree with Kathyt1's post - here is just another way to say what she is saying!

Imagine you have eyes in your hips and in your shoulders. When the horse is going to strike of on a left lead canter, think about the eyes in your left hip and left shoulder just peeking over the horse's RIGHT shoulder. You will feel your left hip and shoulder come forward, which brings your inside leg onto the girth. Your right hip and shoulder will be slightly behind your left ones, which will drop your outside leg to a touch behind the girth. Keep that position as long as you are cantering. You do not want to try to sit straight at the canter as the canter is an asymmetrical gait - ie the leading leg of the horse is in advance of the other leg and the rider needs to mimic that in their own bodies. As Kathyt1 says, practice cantering on your own two feet and then bring that feeling to when you are riding. Good luck.:smile:


New Member
Aug 4, 2005
Newcastle Upon Tyne
You say that the transition to canter isnt very neat. If that means it brings you a bit out of balance it can be difficult to regain that balance once you are in canter. It may be worth trying to work on getting the transistion as quiet and neat as possible so you keep blanced and then set up for the rest of the canter.


Active Member
Dec 18, 2007
Bournemouth, Dorset
For some reason I always want to ride canter one handed - I sit right back (I lean back further than is considered correct Im sure), pop the reins in one hand and use the other to balance (rodeo style!) Its not pretty but it is fun!

Perhaps not a very helpful post but my point is practising until you get comfortable is a fab thing. I figure once I can do without falling off and get confident with it, THEN I can work on my style! I would spend a lot of time setting up my canters in safe spots like up a hill etc so I knew we werent going too far, she wouldnt run away with me and I didnt really have to steer - all I had to do was sit, ask and not fall off! Confidence first - style next :)


Learning all the time
Jul 18, 2005
North west
I too would put reins in outside hand and put other hand under frot of saddle - I didn't have confidence issues around cantering but I still couldn't sit to madams canter - if you hold I find it helps you to relax as you feel safer. I also find it helpful to think about relaxing legs and dropping weight into heels rather than worry about what my bum is doing.


New Member
Aug 15, 2002
Visit site
I did have this problem back a few years ago now when I first got my super bouncy and elevated TB. His trot and canter were well beyond that of my old cob's and it was almost like learning to ride all over again.

Firstly I'd practice a lot of sitting trot. This will hopefully get you to balance and drop your leg lower and open your hips/pelvis. This should then lead on to a smoother canter transition and not through you off balance so much to begin with.

When I was having troubles, my instructor at the time was telling me I was leaning forwards and up out of the saddle in a very much forward seat. I could have argued the fact until I was blue in the face as I was sure I wasn't! We ended up practicing canter and her telling me to 'sit up straight' constantly until I seriously felt like I was leaning back. All of a sudden it all fell into place. My bum didn't leave the saddle, I got the movement and followed it, I was sat 'underneath' myself (almost like tucking my bum in... :D) and felt like I was really riding! :D

I guess what I'm saying is that you may feel like you are doing right and it's not working. When in reality, you may be leaning forwards, tipping or unbalancing yourself before you even start. Really try sitting up straight, so much so that you feel like you may be leaning backwards (in fact, that may just be me that feels like that... not sure :eek:).

Have you got an instructor? From your post it sounds like she's either not very helpful or you haven't got one? Either way, maybe look into getting another/new one and really put over your concerns and what you want to work on. Explain you have confidence issues as well. Maybe a lunge lesson would benifit you as well? You can practice the riding bit without the controlling the horse bit :).


Jane&Sid these days!
Apr 30, 2010
Surrey Hills
That's a coincidence, because I said to my RI yesterday, "I don't understand why sometimes sitting to canter feels as natural as sitting in an armchair, and sometimes I can't keep my bottom down whatever I do."

Her reply: it depends on the horse, the going, the transition, his mood, and how you are feeling, as well as your skill level! So I felt that at least I wasn't a total numpty.

I too find I get the best results when hacking out by sitting up tall, loosening the contact almost entirely (otherwise he gets anxious and rushes off) and if in doubt using my handy oh sh*t strap between the D rings on my saddle. The key seems to be relaxing, and when Zigs is doing his little slow hand canter it's no trouble. The panicky "I am rushing" canter is much harder to sit to, even though I should :hot:

Edited to add: I really recommend the grab handle if you are low on confidence. It makes me feel much safer. When I remember to use it.


New Member
Mar 31, 2011

i think you may be overthinking it. the more you try and 'plant' yourself in the saddle, the worse it gets. try lunge lessons, and cantering with your eyes closed. that way you can only feel the canter, and not over-analyse it. :tongue:
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