Mas­ter­class Beanie Stur­gis on de­vel­op­ing con­trol in can­ter

The Bri­tish event rider ex­plains how to es­tab­lish a con­trolled can­ter through short­en­ing and length­en­ing the stride, be­fore in­tro­duc­ing poles

Horse & Hound - - News -


THIS ex­er­cise in­volves can­ter­ing down the long side and ask­ing for more or fewer can­ter strides each time. I use it on all my horses, from young to ad­vanced, and I find it is a great way of de­vel­op­ing con­trol in the can­ter for jump­ing.

You want to be able to shorten and lengthen the horse’s stride in front of and be­tween fences, and this is an ex­cel­lent way of teach­ing the horse be­fore in­tro­duc­ing poles.

It’s im­por­tant to have the can­ter soft, bal­anced and straight be­fore the horse starts jump­ing, as an un­bal­anced horse will be more likely to start tap­ping the poles and quickly learn to dis­re­spect them.

I ask the horse to shorten his stride with my seat, grip­ping with my knees and sit­ting softly in the sad­dle, and then rid­ing for­wards with my leg and sit­ting slightly deeper in the sad­dle to ask for longer strides.

With younger horses, I would ask for only a small ad­just­ment, so maybe two strides fewer or more down each long side, whereas with the more ex­pe­ri­enced horses you can ask for up to five more strides and four fewer.


1 Can­ter down the long side of the arena in a work­ing can­ter and count the num­ber of strides from cor­ner marker to cor­ner marker to get a base­line num­ber of strides. Then change the num­ber of strides, build­ing up to five more and four fewer strides down the long side in a short arena (in a long one you can do much more/less than five). You can do this in a field and use any­thing as a marker.

2 De­cide how many strides you are aim­ing for and be ac­cu­rate — start grad­u­ally and work your way up so the horse can work out what is be­ing asked of him. It is quite use­ful to do a 15m cir­cle at each end to reestab­lish a true, soft can­ter.

3 Don’t keep the can­ter re­ally con­tained round the short side. It is hard work for the horse and their re­ward is to go back to work­ing can­ter round the short side.

4 When open­ing up the stride, keep the bal­ance light and up­hill; the horse should come back softly with­out lean­ing on you. When the ex­er­cise is more es­tab­lished, in­crease the dif­fi­culty by per­form­ing it on a slight slope.

‘It’s im­por­tant to have the can­ter soft, bal­anced and straight be­fore the horse starts jump­ing’

Beanie Stur­gis with Le­bowski, on whom she com­pleted five four-stars

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