Sitting the Canter?

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idontownahorse

New Member
Nov 14, 2020
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I've always kinda had a problem with sitting the canter. Even when I manage to figure it out, it doesn't last for very long before I start to bounce again. Any advice for properly sitting the canter?
 

carthorse

Super Moderator
Staff member
Jan 6, 2006
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It really is a case of hours in the saddle at canter, and not trying too hard which makes you then brace and bounce more. If you have a safe horse do some canter without stirrups and let your legs relax and hang.

There's no getting away from the fact that some horses have canters that are easier to ride than others. I find that if they have a level f schooling that means you can keep them steady and round and soft then that helps, but if you have to force it then don't because all you'll get is tension and that makes it worse.
 

Huggy

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Nov 11, 2018
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I found it easier to sit if my stirrups were longer, shorter stirrups made me grip upward.
 

Trewsers

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Oct 13, 2004
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On an island
I think I cantered better and more naturally when I used to hack Storm out. In the school we were okay but I never had a great seat. However if it just happened out hacking I seemed to find my groove with it better. Usually it was unasked for:eek: and she’d be helping us escape something like highland cows!!! (She helpfully used to decide what was a threat and what wasn’t!). Oh dear I do miss her ways and riding her.
 
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Skib

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Dec 21, 2003
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It really is a case of hours in the saddle at canter, and not trying too hard which makes you then brace and bounce more. If you have a safe horse do some canter without stirrups and let your legs relax and hang.
It is unwise to make a blanket recommendation to canter without stirrups. Although it is on the BHS list of required skills, my highy skilled RI warned me not to do this as the downward transition to trot risks throwing new riders off balance.

Every learner has problems with learning canter.

You are not forgetting how to ride canter, but you may be tensing. Are you in a rectangular school with corners? It is easier to learn canter out hacking where you can go some way on a safe bridle track, in a straight line. If you are learning in a dressage school, you can avoid cantering corners by cantering down the long side, trotting the short side and then cantering again on the long side.

There are many people who suggest ways to ride canter but as Carthorse suggests, try doing nothing - breathe deep and slow, sit back, relax and count the 3 beat in your head. My revelation came after hearing Mark Rashid teach. He suggested breathing deep and counting the beat of each pace, 4 for walk. 2 for trot and then 3 for canter.

One problem about learning canter is that it does often (not always) involve more speed than a learner is used to. You have to allow the horse to move freely forward between your legs, relaxing your hands on the reins. If you allow and ask for this free forward motion, then the canter may be less bouncy. Unlike you, it was the short canters I found hardest. A long smooth canter was what I loved.

And a final point is that students learning to canter are rarely given an idea of how far they are expected to canter. Rashid again makes a point of knowing one's destination. Concentrating on cantering to a certain point like a particular tree or a particular corner of the school, conveys the idea to the horse. And when one has done it one can regard it as a success.
 

carthorse

Super Moderator
Staff member
Jan 6, 2006
8,295
4,193
113
It is unwise to make a blanket recommendation to canter without stirrups. Although it is on the BHS list of required skills, my highy skilled RI warned me not to do this as the downward transition to trot risks throwing new riders off balance.

Every learner has problems with learning canter.

You are not forgetting how to ride canter, but you may be tensing. Are you in a rectangular school with corners? It is easier to learn canter out hacking where you can go some way on a safe bridle track, in a straight line. If you are learning in a dressage school, you can avoid cantering corners by cantering down the long side, trotting the short side and then cantering again on the long side.

There are many people who suggest ways to ride canter but as Carthorse suggests, try doing nothing - breathe deep and slow, sit back, relax and count the 3 beat in your head. My revelation came after hearing Mark Rashid teach. He suggested breathing deep and counting the beat of each pace, 4 for walk. 2 for trot and then 3 for canter.

One problem about learning canter is that it does often (not always) involve more speed than a learner is used to. You have to allow the horse to move freely forward between your legs, relaxing your hands on the reins. If you allow and ask for this free forward motion, then the canter may be less bouncy. Unlike you, it was the short canters I found hardest. A long smooth canter was what I loved.

And a final point is that students learning to canter are rarely given an idea of how far they are expected to canter. Rashid again makes a point of knowing one's destination. Concentrating on cantering to a certain point like a particular tree or a particular corner of the school, conveys the idea to the horse. And when one has done it one can regard it as a success.

To me @idontownahorse didn't word the original post as though they're a beginner at canter, but rather as though they've been trying to get it right for a while. And if the canter position is better the rider is less likely to be thrown off balance by the downward transition - and by the way I find it helps to think of the transition to trot as an upward one as that encourages the rider to keep riding forward and maintain a stronger position.


Skib has a good point about corners, and it may help if you can canter on a 20m circle though I appreciate that if you're riding in group lessons you don't have the say in what you do.
 
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