Monday, September 21, 2009

Canter work

Alright gentle readers... I need your advice from greenie land.

We have been working on the canter and the left lead is coming along nicely. The right lead is still a big challenge. Even with an inside leg aid, Drifter still falls to the inside and falls into the canter. I am working hard on my position to stay back and balanced, but she usually ends up four inches to the right of my seat by the time she is actually cantering. She gets 5-7 strides, pops the left shoulder and breaks to the trot. We need help...

This is a picture of newly weaned Zee with her buddy Charlie- thanks Kim for the great picture.


  1. Is she able to canter on the right lead well at liberty - in the pasture - or on the lunge? If not, she may have a physical issue - chiropractic perhaps - that needs attention first.

    Assuming she can canter to the right without a rider, examine your own position - are you leaning, perchance, or twisting your body in any way? This can affect how the horse moves.

    One exercise you could try - don't know if it'll work - is to let her move at the trot to the right and spiral in - don't worry if her right shoulder falls in. Once she's making the smallest circle she can comfortably make at the trot (I find sitting works best), spiral out using your inside leg to do it and keeping the nose somewhat to the inside - and once you're a ways out, with the bend still established, ask for the canter - making sure you "allow" with your seat, legs and hands - no grinding or pushing which can inhibit the motion. And then don't ask for too much at first - ask her to trot after a number of strides (know how many in your head before you start) before she even thinks of it. As things work better, you can increase the number of canter strides.

    Hope that helps!

  2. Kate,

    Thanks for the spiral exercise. It think that might help her. Drifter is really good moving laterally off my leg, so the spiral should help her engage that inside hind before canter strike off. Thanks.

    She is able to canter on the right in the field and lunge. More of a left/right dominance than "can't". Today she was able to canter about three circles to the left (almost the whole width of the arena) and one and half on the right.

    I know I have some asymmetry in my body and try to be mindful of my position when teaching her new concepts. When I do it right, she gets it right. They always keep us mindful, don't they?