scoop your seat - we learned to bring the hind end under from trot to canter by scooping my seat. This action made walk to canter very easy as it brings the hind under. inside leg to bend, outside leg in position and then scoop your seat - we just started doing this about a month ago and our walk to canter and halt to canter transitions are incredible - I am so proud of my boy.
First thing to check - is horse forward at the walk? Your seat MUST be engaged sending the horse forward into the reins. This way horse is already underneath them self (carrying their frame) and ready to step into the canter (or do anything else you ask - like TOF, SI, etc.)
Then if you move outside leg back a little and squeeze with inside leg at the girth while loosening inside rein, keep shoulders back and do NOT lean forward - Voila - you'll get a canter!
If that doesn't work (you're doing something wrong) then add a shoulder fore before asking for the canter.
I wanted to second this advice - the main thing here is that the rider knows which hind leg they wish to activate- the outside hind leg initiates the canter, so although exercises such as shoulder-in, leg yield, turn on the haunches etc. are great tools to serve to collect (collection in the walk referring to bending of three main joints of inside hind leg, renvers would be the most appropriate to prepare for canter. And like almost every other moment in dressage riding – shoulder-fore. Also, remember the rule of thumb that the outside hind leg pushes while the inside hind leg carries.
Used with caution, here is another tip: If your horse is comfortable with the whip and you do not feel using it will lead to tension or even worse, ruining the walk, you may want to try activating the outside hind leg with it – only lightly touching the outside hind leg with the whip.
However you may wish to call it, the rider must “coil” or prepare in hind legs so that their horse can be RELEASED into canter. The concept of releasing is something I teach rather than letting riders push horses into a gait. Horses should also be “released” into downwards transitions.
Also, think about your canter aids. I am not saying that other types of aids are wrong, but for long term dressage training, the canter should be taken by
1. first slightly backing the outside hindleg
2. weighting the inside seat bone, pushing the inside seatbone forward (forward and down) – this needs to be done carefully, as it can open another can of worms (collapsing the hip, riders sitting to far back etc.)
You may even say there are 4-10 steps involved in canter (shoulder –fore, preparing the hind legs for their appropriate function, balancing with a slight leg yield and half halt perhaps…. But do not ask for the canter with the outside leg alone or with the inside leg alone for that matter… preparation is the key.
Leonardo da Vinci once said “Those who devote themselves to practice without science are like sailors put to sea without rudder or compass and who can never be certain where they are going. Practice must always be founded on sound theory”.
Great advice from everyone. I have two cents to throw in. Timing is very important. Create a very active walk. It takes a lot more impulsion than you think to get the canter the first few times, before the horse realizes what you want. Watch / feel for the inside front foot to hit the ground. Once you get it, count down from three, and use your inside leg on the girth with each count. By count one, your horse should be questioning where you want it to put all this excess energy you are asking for. Keep them bent to the inside, and displace your pelvis so that you are sitting more on the inside seatbone just slightly more forward than the outside seatbone. Mirror this placement slightly by twisting your shoulder girdle to the outside. Keep this position as you count three two one canter in rhythm with the inside front and your inside leg aid. Just before you say canter, slide your outside leg back to tell the outside hind to change gait. With this aid, you should feel the horse raise its front end. Try to keep the contact and inside bend and keep your weight back. Imagine that you are sinking into their back for that moment, keeping your outside seatbone and leg back. Keep enough inside leg on after the transitionto maintain the canter. Count out loud so that your horse learns the exercise. If you are getting trotsteps, your horse is most likely on the forehand and behind the leg. Make sure you hold the energy you create with yourseatand hand a d half halt to weight the hind end in the walk before you start. Make sure too that have him on the aids andthat you really want to canter. They can tell if your heart isn't in it.