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Cantering with Ease

Cantering causes a tremendous amount of apprehension for many riders. It’s a bigger gait than the trot and can be difficult to manage if the riders seat, hands, and legs are tense. I wanted to write briefly on the canter, as many of my students struggle with finding balance within the canter and preventing their horses from running or taking off. I recently sent one of my students a very good youtube video regarding cantering and canter transitions This video demonstrates the importance of keeping your horse on a 20 meter circle and in balance when commencing canter work. Riders need to remember not to constantly pull on their horses’ mouth, but instead use multiple half halts to control the horse while keeping inside flexion. This will help the horse to maintain his rhythm without getting too quick. We need to allow our hips to move in a scooping motion in the canter without restricting our horse or pushing our horse too forward. We can control the rhythm and tempo of the canter with our seat. Our seat must stay relaxed and follow the motion of the canter. We should keep our thighs and lower legs relaxed around the horse’s barrel. Riders need to remember to breath while cantering. In addition, we should refrain from constantly squeezing the horse forward in the canter. If the horse is behind the leg, we need to bump or squeeze solely with our inside calf to maintain the jump. Doing tons of transitions helps us remain relaxed in the canter and allows our horse to remain in balance. If we find our horse is running, we can do smaller circles within our 20 meter circle. When balance is achieved on the circle and in the transitions, the circle can be elongated and time cantering can be extended. With practice, patience, and repetition, you will be cantering beautifully around the entire arena in no time!