Tag Archives: Canter Depart

How To Time Your Canter Depart

Most horses will understand your canter aid whenever it is given and be willing to depart into canter as soon as they can.  But if you’re having trouble; if your horse is sensitive; if you truly want your horse to progress through the levels or if you’re riding a horse that’s trained to a higher level than you, you will want to give your aids at the right moment.

Do you …

  • Know which leg is doing what through your seat?
  • Time your canter depart aids in conjunction with your horse’s footfalls?
  • Time your aid to coincide with the exact moment that the outside hind is about to come to the ground?

The canter is a three beat pace, where in the canter to the right, for example, the footfall is as follows:

  1. left (outside) hind
  2. simultaneous diagonal pair – left (outside) fore and right (inside) hind
  3. right (inside) fore
  4. moment of suspension with all four feet in the air – then the next stride begins

Canter

It’s the outside hind leg that begins the canter depart.  When in trot, it’s when the outside hind leg is coming through that you need to give the aid for canter depart.

If you read my recent post on feeling the correct diagonal and you have been working on recognising and feeling it, the outside hind coming through would be during the sit phase of the trot.  However, as you do not ask for the canter depart directly from rising trot, you will need to be in sitting trot for at least a couple of strides before you ask for canter.  You really must work on being able to feel when the outside hind is coming through in the trot (more specifically as it’s getting ready to push-off).  This is when your horse’s hip lowers on that side.

From rising trot, take sitting trot, if you sit for two beats you should ask on the second beat, or the fourth beat or the sixth beat.

An easier way to think about this would be – rise, sit, rise, sit, sit, ask for canter.

Crystal System DressageCrystal’s Tip : Yet another ‘Eureka’ moment for me – ask and wait.  There will be a very slight delay from the point at which you give the canter aid to the point at which your horse responds.  This is particularly true if you have not timed your aid for when the outside hind is coming through.  Give the aid and be patient.  Have faith.  It will happen.  Do not be tempted to start pushing and shoving and tapping and clicking.

The simple things matter.  Being able to feel your horse’s gait under you is not difficult, complicated or arduous.  Take a few minutes each session to master this skill.

Simply give the aid and allow your horse to respond, sit up and enjoy.

Have fun!

Patricia – The Dressage Tipster

help@likecrystal.com

 

 

Why I want to FEEL the force of my Horse’s HIND LEGS in my ASS

Got your attention? Good!  I’m in a Kick-Ass mood today.

hind legPeople you are not going to develop your dressage skills without the basics ingrained into your Psyche, right?  So how many of you are able to feel the movement of your horse’s hind leg through your seat?

In walk …

  • Do you recognise which hind leg is stepping under you?
  • Do you ever even think about it when you ride?
  • Are you able to give alternate leg aids and activate the correct leg?
  • If you were to close your eyes could you call out which leg is stepping under?

As your horse steps through his hip lifts and pushes one side of your seat bone forward and up.  In the walk, each seat bone alternately goes forward-up-back-down.

Why not work with a friend and ask them to call out ‘now’ each time the inside hind hoof is on the ground?  Feel what is happening with your seat as you do this.  Remember that the movement of your hips, pelvis, and ribs should match the movement of your horse in the walk, without any resistance.

In trot …

  • Do you need to visually check your diagonal when rising?
  • Is it automatic to you and always correct?
  • Can you feel when you take the wrong diagonal?
  • Do you think about the hind legs as you go into trot so that you are absolutely clear which diagonal you are rising on?

On the right rein, tune into the left seat bone.  As the horses back dips on the left – this is the sit phase.  When the left seat bone rises is the rise phase.

In canter …

  • Do you know which leg is doing what through your seat?
  • Do you time your canter depart aids in conjunction with your horse’s footfalls?
  • Do you time your aid to coincide with the exact moment that the outside hind is about to come to the ground? This is when the hip lowers on that side.

Many horses will understand your canter aid whenever it is given and be willing to depart into canter as soon as they can.  But if you’re having trouble, if your horse is sensitive, if you want your horse to progress through the levels or if you’re riding a horse that has been trained to a higher level than you, you will want to give your aids at the right moment.

It is the outside hind leg that begins the canter depart and when in trot, it is when the outside hind leg is coming through that you need to give the aid for canter depart, which, if you have worked on recognising when you are on the correct diagonal, would be during the sit phase of the trot.  However, as you will need to be in sitting trot for at least a couple of strides before you ask for canter depart you really must work on being able to feel when the outside hind is coming through in the trot (specifically as its getting ready to push off).

Quick Tip  – Eureka moment for me! –

hind legAsk and wait.  There will be a very slight delay from the point at which you give the aid to the point at which you feel the horse respond.  Give the aid and be patient.  Have faith.  It will happen.  Don’t be tempted to start pushing and shoving and tapping and clicking! Simply give the aid and allow the horse to respond, sit up and enjoy.

It serves us well to recognise the influence we have with our seat as early as we can in our dressage careers, only then can we begin to appreciate how very generous our horses are for allowing us to ride them and how we owe it to them to try to be ‘at one’ with them for this honour.

Patricia – The Dressage Tipster

help@likecrystal.com

 

COLLECTIVE MARKS – PACES AND REGULARITY – CANTER

This is the fourth blog in my series on Collective Marks.  As I have stated in all three of the previous posts, the importance of how you understand and focus on the collective marks cannot be emphasised enough.  If you pay lip service to this you will not have a full appreciation of the aims of your test.

The collective marks allow the judge to give an overall score for their perception of how you and your horse performed throughout the test.  It is their opinion as to how you, as a combination, conducted yourselves and the overall impression you left them with as the test progressed.

The first post in this series – Collective marks – Scoring, explained the way the collectives are scored by the judges.  Moving on, I turn to paces, regularity and freedom, the first of the collectives to be given marks.  Your score will be either an individual score for each of the 3 paces (walk, trot and canter) or an overall score for all of them, depending on your training level.

The Canter

The canter is a three beat pace, where in the canter to the right, for example, the footfall is as follows:  left hind, left diagonal (simultaneously left for and right hind, right fore, followed by a moment of suspension with all four feet I the air before the next stride begins.  The canter, always with light, cadenced and regular strides, should be moved into without hesitation.

The quality of the canter is judged by the overall impression that you give the judge.  So the judge might comment something like ‘pleasing canter’ which means that the overall impression that you give is good.5

 

They are looking for: Continue reading COLLECTIVE MARKS – PACES AND REGULARITY – CANTER

Canter Depart – Strike a Leg

Slow CanterThe canter depart or strike off can be a real sticking point for some riders.  In the third of our Real Life Rider Series, the rider is struggling with correct canter lead. In my experience this is a very, very common problem, although those who have it seem to think that everyone else can canter perfectly well and they are the only ones struggling!

Thanks for the question. I hope my response will aid a good many fellow equestrians.
The first thing to note is that it is almost certainly the rider that is creating the issues and recognising this is a huge step to correcting the problem.

So, here we are with a problem to solve, the solution may not be pretty; it may not be how you would want to ride in a test situation; it will – without doubt – be something that you will do for the fix and then forget.

Here goes … firstly let’s look at the trot prior to the canter depart.

  • You should go for a strong contact. Have the horse up in your hands, have the trot really forward but feel the contact a little more than usual, keep half-halting in the trot until you feel that the horse is putting in some effort and maybe even a little strong, create the circle of energy that you need to have full control of your horse.

You are working to engage the hind quarterscanter depart

  • When you are happy that you have a forward trot that feels a little more ‘UP’ than usual you are ready to ask for the depart.
  • When you ask for Canter, you can do it anywhere. Be very, very subtle about it. Inside leg on, outside leg sweeps back gently. Because you may be leaning and tensing, don’t think asking on the corner or circle is better, indeed it is not if you are leaning.
  • Under no circumstances drop the contact. You are trying to help your horse balance himself with you on board during the transition. It is not fair to him to abandon the contact and say – ok do it all yourself!
  • You need to help the horse by lifting the hand slightly (an inch maybe), sitting well back in your seat – leaning back is better than forward, look to the skies, hold the contact – half halt (I’m going to ask you something different) and ask for the canter.
  • Then wait. Don’t start pushing with your seat, leaning forward, shoving the hands forward, and willing him with every fibre of your body to go, just sit up and wait.
  • If it does not happen, back to trot and try again, rebalance the trot (do not allow the horse to run) if you need to back up your leg with a tap from the whip, so be it.

I cannot emphasise enough the “Think Up into Canter” UP, UP, UP – say it as you do it. It’s difficult to lean forward, look down etc., if you are saying “UP into Canter” to yourself. Shoulders back, give the horse space to bring his hind legs under him, lift his forehand and make a strike off.

Lots of praise in the form of voice when he gets it and enjoy the feeling you get, soak it up, you will have many more of them, but this is the first – it’s special, you need to remember it so that you can make it a habit. Do not pat to reward – you can’t afford to give away the contact!

My young horse will strike off on incorrect left lead if I’m sloppy! It’s her way of telling me to put in more effort.

So, you have this great canter transition sorted, but the horse won’t stay in canter. He won’t stay “in front of the leg”.

Again look to yourself to see what it is about your position that is causing this problem. You are probably leaning forward and you may have tension in your legs.  When the horse backs off or comes back to trot without you asking you will need to make the transition to canter again, and whilst the brain is saying if you lean forward and shove your hands forward and push with your seat the horse will respond with forward (it would if you were a cowboy and wanted to gallop, heck why not go all the way stand up in your stirrups and shout Yee-Hah! – please resist this!).

Sit still, no pushing, sit softly and relax the legs. Sit up with your pelvis forward. It might feel odd but have a look at how Cart Hester sits. He encourages his belly button forward – this will engage your back muscles so you will know the next day if you have done it correctly!

canter depart

Other stuff to consider to aid the Trot to Canter Transition (Canter Depart)

  • You may need work with no stirrups, or work on the lunge so that any balance issues can be resolved.
  • It is so easy for me to say relax – but that is what you must do. If you can’t relax your legs and have them entirely independent of your upper body, you should get help to learn how. Maybe someone could lunge you, in canter, preferably without stirrups – but one step at a time eh?
  • If you could get someone just to have you on a lunge line but not actually lunge the horse and you ‘do the work’ i.e. ask for canter when you know you have no option but to remain on a circle it might do the trick.
  • One more exercise – Turn on the forehand. Establish this exercise with your horse to engage the hind quarters. Then you can do this before you ask for the canter and he will definitely be more engaged and freer behind.
  • Finally – walk to canter. The best way to find out if you’re aids are correct for canter is to do walk to canter. Don’t forget, think UP and from a forward walk, ask for canter. Exactly as above, say the words “Canter” that your horse associates with lunging.
  • With the horse that will not maintain the canter, say the words “canter, canter, canter” as go along, this is partly the purpose of lunging the young horse, to associate the words with the actions so that you can use them when training.

BookHave fun!

Patricia – The Dressage Tipster

help@likecrystal.com

Are you enjoying the Real Life Rider Series?  You might want to take a look at THE BOOK

I GOT RHYTHM … Correct Canter Lead

“Teaching my young horse to strike off on the correct canter lead on the left rein was proving difficult”

Sounds like a reasonable thing to say, but this statement is wrong on so many levels. Firstly, I have no need to teach my young horse anything. Apart from the fact that she is very talented, without me on her back she balances herself and strikes off correctly every time, even on the lunge.

So what the statement should say is …

“Teaching myself to be in balance so that my young horse can strike off on the correct canter lead was proving difficult”.

Tips:Rhythm

  • Only ask for canter when you are completely happy with the rhythm of the trot.
  • Check your canter aids are soft and you are not putting in too much effort which could be unbalancing you.
  • Slow the trot initially before the canter strike off (you can keep the tempo later in the training, once you are sure that your balance isn’t being affected).
  • Sit up and wait – Don’t start pushing with your seat! a couple of seconds allowing the horse to respond is perfectly acceptable. The canter will come and the quality will be better than if you had allowed the horse to run into it.
  • If it all goes wrong, try again – re balance the trot, ask very quietly and simply wait.

Try not to get frustrated if it takes a while, a good transition is a joy, feel it, love it …

Remember, rhythm, rhythm, rhythm !!!

Patricia – The Dressage Tipster

help@likecrystal.com