Learning to Canter
Horses Need to Learn Balance
Flash is a young horse. He hasn't been ridden at a canter very long but things are coming along nicely with him. He is still working on getting his balance with a rider on his back. Flash's rider is young too, so in essence, they are learning together and having a great time doing it. We had gotten somewhat stuck with where we were so we took Flash out by the rider's favorite instructor.
She helped a lot! If you are ever unsure of what you are doing with your horse or you are not progressing, it's time to get professional help! It's amazing what a great trainer can teach you!
Make Sure You are Prepared
Before you even take your horse out you should spend a few minutes making sure that you have yourself ready first. Proper attire - boots, helmet, gloves if you use them, long pants. Next, make sure you have all the equipment ready that you need - brushes, saddle, saddle pad, bridle, lunge line, lunge whip, and hoof pick. If they are all nearby, you can quickly and easily have your horse ready to work and you'll know that you're well prepared.
Get a Routine and Start by Lunging
Flash has been walking and trotting on the lunge line for a long time but it took awhile to get him into the canter. He's been doing it now for a couple of months and each month it gets better and better. We are only going to be doing walk/trot on the lunge line for a few minutes before we ask him to pick up the canter. He has to go both directions. We do this each time before we ride. A tired horse is a happy horse.
Time to Get Up on Your Horse
You should lunge your horse until he's not too frisky anymore. Put the bridle on next and make sure that all the buckles are buckled and the keepers are all in place. Before you get on, check to make sure that your girth is tight. Check your stirrups to make sure they are even. Warm up by walking and trotting. This way you can make sure that your horse is sound and ready to ride. Once you have done this enough, you should be able to feel if your horse is limping or if something just doesn't seem right from up in the saddle.
If you need a drink of water before you get started, make sure you get one because you need to be able to make the kissing noise and it's hard to do if your mouth is dry.
It's Fun to Canter!
Most people say that cantering is easier than trotting. I was just starting to enjoy cantering with Flash when he bolted and I fell off. It was quite a painful experience and ever since then, I stick to walking and trotting. I would love to feel his canter again but I think it will be a long time before that happens.
Have you ever cantered on a horse?
And They're Off!
Once everything is all set and you are ready, ask your horse to step off into a canter. We were taught to do this by tipping the horse's nose outwards, kicking with the outside leg, and smooching to get the horse to pick up the canter. If his nose is tipped towards the outside, it helps him to pick up the right lead.
Flash and his rider are learning to canter and I hope we helped you a little bit too! As I said before, find yourself a great trainer if you are having any problems. They will be able to help you so much! There's a lot of them out there so if the first one you try doesn't help or isn't what you are looking for, then move on and try another one. You have to love your trainer and they have to care about you too!
Breaks in the Canter
Our rider has a hard time keeping Flash going. He canters for a little while and then he breaks down into a trot. The rider and the trainer keep working on it and Flash gets better all the time. It's easier for him when he is worked consistently and regularly so his muscles are stronger to keep up the gait,.
Sometimes a Book with Instructions Can Help Too
If you're the type of person who can learn by reading a book, check out some of these for great information!
This is a book and a DVD so you can take your time learning how to ride English the right way. It's best to start with a strong foundation and then build on it as you go. Start with walking and trotting and move your way up.
Finding an English Bridle
Our young rider is learning to canter using a western saddle and an English bridle. The western saddle makes her feel more secure but the horse is more used to the English bridle and responds much better to it. According to our instructor, it's perfectly acceptable to do that (just not during a horse show!)