Archive for December, 2010

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Excerpts from Book Four  “Training the Young Horse after Backing through Training Level”
Canter Work     Series # 4

More on Canter Aids

           The aids described in the canter series # 1 and #2 from book one, make learning the canter easy for the horse.  He learns quickly and the aids needed become less and less as time goes on.  All you will have to do is think canter (and simply stretch the spine tall) then begin to slide your outside leg back and your horse will rise up to you and canter.  As long as your position is correct and your aids are clear, the canter should be slow and not strung out with the horse racing to catch his balance.  You have already completed so much foundation work in book one and book three, that approaching the canter shouldn’t be a difficult task.  Do not  scoop  your  seat because this will drive your weight down into his back, separating the front of the horse from the back.  Do not take the motion up into your back or your hips. Simply shed the motion of the horse down your leg and out the knee, thus allowing the horse freedom in the canter.  Remember not to let your horse push you to the back of the saddle, creating a space between you and the front of the saddle.  That space will create stiffness in the jaw of the horse.  If you follow the motion of the horse you will be left behind on the third beat of the canter.  If you find yourself left behind just adjust your seat back to the front of the saddle and your horse will soften in the jaw.  You may need a ground person that can see if you are being left behind, it is very subtle and often the rider can’t feel when it is happening.  These simple details make all the difference in the progress of your canter work.  Don’t fold up or draw the knees up.  All the mistakes in the rider position open a door for the young horse to canter out of control, or misbehave in some other way.  Once he has his legs under him, he will be able to canter whole school.  Stretch your spine tall, lift the sternum up, but not enough to arch the lower back, push your seat slightly toward the reins, softly brush with your whip and your horse should gather himself and organize the canter.

You may ask a question, make a comment or just look forward to the next canter post.

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Canter series # 3 

Learning or relearning the Canter

             Learning to ride the canter on a lunge line is the safest way to begin.  You need a quiet horse that has had experience with riders on the lunge line.  Make sure that the horse has a balanced canter and stops easily so as not to scare the rider. When beginning the canter, riders should stabilize themselves by putting only their fingers under the pommel of the saddle and holding themselves forward in the saddle, as shown in the photo below.  This will help the rider keep her legs relaxed and her seat deep in the saddle.  Usually when riders get nervous or lose their balance they will pinch with the knees and lean forward into a fetal position. Allow the rider to hold on tightly with the fingers but not with the legs!

First, the rider needs to understand the aids for the canter so they ask correctly. To cue the horse, the rider slides their outside leg further back than the normal leg position. The outside leg would be the leg away from the instructor who is on the center of the circle. Going from the walk to the canter is the  most  comfortable  for  the rider if the horse is  trained correctly. The  instructor  will  ask  the  horse  with the  voice and whip if needed, but the rider should practice using the outside leg and also lift her chest and lighten her seat in the transition.

It is a misconception that the rider must follow each of the three beats of the canter in unison with the horse.  As you analyze the motion of the horse you will realize there is a side to side motion in addition to the rocking forward and back motion.  The horse pushes off on the outside hind and there is a side motion as he shifts to the diagonal pair and a side motion when he lands on the inside fore.

You will see riders pick up on different moments of the motion; often you will see a rider with a side to side twist in the canter.  But the most universal mistake is a rider over pushing and driving on the first beat of the canter.

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Canter Series # 2 – Excerpts From Book Four “Training the Young Horse After Backing” 
Aids for the Canter Depart

  • Stretch your spine tall and imagine yourself light as a feather.  This creates a space for the horse to come up into; but do not step on your stirrups thinking that will lighten you. Lighten without lifting off the saddle, keeping your seat in front.
  •  Bring the outside leg back and if the horse doesn’t take the canter right away, add a soft kick with the outside leg.
  •  A half halt on the outside rein or both reins, this tells the horse not to trot on but to transition up to the canter.
  • Remember to sit to the inside turning the hip slightly toward the inside shoulder of the lead you are asking for.  If you sit on the outside the horse may pick up the counter lead. 
  • Execute all aids simultaneously.

You may ask a question, make a comment or just look forward to the next canter post.

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Excerpt from Book One  “Balancing The Rider
Canter Series # 1

Analyzing the  Canter      

 The Three beats of the canter.

First beat: The horse strikes off on the outside hind. 
Second beat: The horse lands on the diagonal pair.
Third beat: The horse lands on the inside fore.
Moment of Suspension: Between the third and first beat there is a moment of suspension when all four legs are off the ground.
Sandra Beaulieu on Vanidor demonstrating the canter.  This picture caught the moment of suspension.






How Does the Horse Effect Your Body during the Three Beats of the Canter?

First Beat: The horse pulls your seat forward, as he strikes off on his outside hind.
Second Beat: The horse sits you down, as he lands on the diagonal pair.
Third Beat: The horse drops your leg, as he lands on the inside foreleg.

 What Should You do with Your Body during the Three Beats of the Canter?

First Beat:  Do not push with your seat on the first beat of the canter,  just allow the horse to pull you in the early stages of his canter work.  Later when your horse is more advanced doing collected canter work you will block your seat when he goes to pull you on the first beat of the canter, thus shortening and collecting the canter stride.
Second Beat:  Allow him to sit you down on the second beat.  Be sure you don’t pinch with your knees, if you do he will sit you down too far back in the saddle and be out of balance. Then you will be out of balance for the last beat and the first beat of the next canter stride.  Being left behind, you will resort to pushing in order to get back in the saddle where you should be, and the process will begin again.
Third Beat:  Be sure that you haven’t landed on the back of the saddle on the second beat of the canter putting you out of balance.   The horse is ready to drop your leg on the third beat.  You must allow him to drop your leg.

You may ask a question, make a comment or just look forward to the next canter post.

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Series # 4

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Isaac Royal Equestrian Theater  2010  Series # 3

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Isaaac Royal Equestrian Theater 2010  Series # 2

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Isaac Royal Equestrian Theater 2010   series # 1
At Liberty

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