How do I get my horse to sit up in can­ter?

Hugely suc­cess­ful na­tive pony pro­ducer Saman­tha Roberts of­fers ad­vice for achiev­ing a qual­ity can­ter

Horse & Hound - - Fix It -

GET­TING your horse to sit up in this gait can be achieved once you have es­tab­lished a bal­anced can­ter. The aim is to teach him to carry the weight from be­hind. As the legs don’t move sym­met­ri­cally as in walk and trot, can­ter can be dif­fi­cult for the horse be­cause it has an un­even beat.

To es­tab­lish a good can­ter, check your horse is can­ter­ing in a con­sis­tent rhythm, with­out chang­ing speed and with a clear three-time beat. He must be soft in the hand, not run­ning through the con­tact or be­hind your leg.

You must al­low him to be in self-car­riage and not be re­strict­ing with the rein. If an elas­tic con­tact or obe­di­ence to the aids isn’t con­sis­tent, you should work on half-halts and tran­si­tions be­fore try­ing these ex­er­cises.


1 Ride a 20m cir­cle in can­ter, prefer­ably in the mid­dle of your arena, mak­ing sure you have an ac­tive can­ter with cor­rect bend. Can­ter a com­plete cir­cle and then give and re­take the con­tact as you ride over the cen­tre line, with­out him fall­ing on his fore­hand (see di­a­gram, right).

2 Stay on a cir­cle and ask your horse to trot, mak­ing sure he stays in bal­ance and doesn’t fall onto his fore­hand. Once you have es­tab­lished a bal­anced, ac­tive trot, pick up can­ter again.

The shape and size of the cir­cle will en­cour­age your horse to en­gage his hindlegs, so al­low the cir­cle to help you. Give him time and pre­pare for each tran­si­tion.

Ride as many tran­si­tions as it takes to en­sure they are ac­cu­rate and for­ward.

3 Once you can ride a flu­ent can­ter-trot-can­ter tran­si­tion, re­duce the num­ber of strides you trot for.

4 In can­ter, ask him to go for­ward (with more power but not faster) for a few strides, so that he takes a more ex­tended stride.

Then ask him, through your seat and a half-halt, to come back to your “nor­mal” can­ter again. This will teach him to go for­ward with more en­ergy and im­pul­sion, and avoids a “flat” can­ter. Make sure you prac­tise the ex­er­cises on both reins.

‘Not all na­tives find can­ter easy’


Saman­tha Roberts, pic­tured here with rid­den cham­pion KnavesashKnight, has se­cured vic­to­ries at HOYS, Royal In­ter­na­tional and Olympia

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