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  1. #1
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    Jun. 24, 2009
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    Default Teaching the counter canter

    My horse counter canters tracking right going to the left really well. He'll pick it up from the trot instead of having to cross the diagonal and hold the lead. To the right, I'm having a time and a half trying different exercises to get him to pick up the left lead, tracking right. What are some ways you guys have gotten your horses to be able to pick up the counter lead instead of having to hold it through a direction-change turn?

    Thanks!



  2. #2
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    You probably sit left.

    Be very precise with your weight.
    Whatever lead you are on (or asking for) your weight should be over the leading leg. In a hip-down-and-forward-into-the-shoulder way, not a leaning tower of Piza way.



  3. #3
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    So you are having trouble picking up the lead, rather than holding the counter-canter? I would do canter transitions on the center line, both leads. As meupatdoes said, your problem is probably in your weight. I'd play around with it a little to see what works for you and your horse, but most likely you are leaning one way or the other. Focus on the position of your hips, how much weight you have in each stirrup, and where your shoulders and eyes are pointed. When you can get consistent transitions on the center line, try the quarter line and gradually move closer to the rail. You can also try transitions in an open field.

    As you probably know, your horse will want to "lean" on the rail, so you'll have to make sure both you and he are straight. He may be throwing his shoulder or, more likely, haunches in when he's on the rail, making it harder to pick up the counter lead. Really focus on riding inside (left) leg to outside (right) rein as you ask for the left lead, even though you are technically tracking right. Remember, inside/outside aids are based on the BEND that you have, not on the direction you are tracking. Make sure you're not leaning left or putting to much weight in your left stirrup, and that you're not pulling on your left rein. You can also try leg-yielding a step or two off the rail and then asking for the lead. That will help get him going from the left leg into the right rein. Also make sure you are looking straight ahead, or even slightly left as you ask for that lead.



  4. #4
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    Default

    Instead of going across the diaganol, try doing a half turn at the end of the long side of the ring. Or try out in a field.



  5. #5
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    meupatdoes and Eventer13 do you realize you both just contradicted eachother? I agree with Eventer 13. Assuming OP is traveling clockwise (to the right) why would you weigh down the side of the horse (left) that needs to lift to get the outside lead?

    However, I'll admit I was just about to post on this exact same subject as I also just began working on counter canter and everyone is telling me conflicting things as well. To get a balanced canter on the inside (correct) lead I always cue outside leg behind the girth, weight on outside seatbone, inside hip goes forward, slight inside bend while holding the outside shoulder with outside rein. For counter canter I would assume you would just reverse all of these. I'm finding that raising the outside rein slightly is the trick for counter canter in my "downhill" horse - which make sense as I want to lift that outside shoulder. I'm currently studying (french) classical dressage...but am learning so am I wrong?

    Maybe the bigger question is why everyone cues their horses for canter differently? It must drive them crazy if they are ridden by different people. And it seems to cross disciplines...I know h/j, dressage, and western riders who will argue with others in their discipline as to what is the "correct" way.



  6. #6
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    I have always been told to step into my outside stirrup and to open my shoulders and hips to the inside and cue with my outside leg behind the girth to get the correct lead. To counter canter, I step into my inside stirrup and open (slightly!) my hips and shoulders to the outside and cue with my inside leg behind the girth.

    It's been working for 14 years with everything from greenies to packers, so I'll stick with it.

    OP, definitely work on the center line so your horse doesn't anticipate one lead over the other and listens to you. Then you can bring it out to the rail.
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  7. #7
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    ?
    don't think so hard.

    "canter on this lead" is general obidence and balance therefore you should not have to teach your horse the counter canter.
    You might have to teach yourself.

    canter in general is initiated with the inside leg/hip and outside rein just as sportz explained.
    you can just google it and google can explain all transitions very well.
    for counter canter you don't "reverse all of these!" you do the same darn thing just going the other direction!!
    (which I'm sure is what sportz meant)

    those that are never going to move on to lateral movements and never perform in a dressage arena or never need to have a striaght canter depart can get away with using the outside leg for the transition.

    don't practice on the rail.
    practice down center line. Your horse should pick up whatever lead you want at any given moment.
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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by purplnurpl View Post
    those that are never going to move on to lateral movements and never perform in a dressage arena or never need to have a striaght canter depart can get away with using the outside leg for the transition.
    ?
    My horse has a very good shoulder in, haunches in, and leg yield in both directions and has a very straight canter depart on the rail or on the center line, quarter line, or diagnol.
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  9. #9
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    Jan. 27, 2003
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    Quote Originally Posted by purplnurpl View Post
    ?
    don't think so hard.

    "canter on this lead" is general obidence and balance therefore you should not have to teach your horse the counter canter.
    You might have to teach yourself.
    [/I]

    Yes. If you're having problems getting the lead you want, you are not having a problem with counter canter...you are having a problem with canter transitions.
    Quote Originally Posted by purplnurpl View Post
    ?
    canter in general is initiated with the inside leg/hip and outside rein just as sportz explained.
    May be the case in other parts of the world or in other disciplines, but I would say that "in general" the canter is initiated with the outside leg with supporting inside and outside reins. Both my horses are straight and do lovely transitions using diagonal aids. Straightness isn't about what aids are used...but how they are applied and if the rider is aware of straightness.

    Quote Originally Posted by purplnurpl View Post
    ?
    those that are never going to move on to lateral movements and never perform in a dressage arena or never need to have a striaght canter depart can get away with using the outside leg for the transition.
    Pretty rude. I do just fine in the dressage ring, when I want to (which is not very often). My horses do lateral work. Again, straightness isn't about the aids used, but how they are applied and the the attentiveness of the rider to straightness.

    Quote Originally Posted by purplnurpl View Post
    ?
    don't practice on the rail.
    practice down center line. Your horse should pick up whatever lead you want at any given moment.
    This, I agree with.

    Also, you can do the cloverleaf if you're really having difficulty, but again...you're not having a problem with countercanter...you're having a problem with canter transitions. Your horse should pick up whatever lead you tell it to, whenever you tell it.
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  10. #10
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    Regardless of what aids you use to pick up the canter (mine focus on the seat, not the legs OR the reins)-

    First, make sure you can pick up either lead, on demand, away from the rail. For instance, turn down the center line, and pick up the desired lead. Then turn that direction when you get to the end of the ring.

    Next. make sure you can pick up either lead on the rail, on the long side. Come back to the trot before you get to the corner.

    The point is that the horse needs to be listening for YOU to tell him WHICH lead to pick up. He should NOT do it automatically.


    Then, to work on the counter canter itself, you do a shallow loop. For instance, going left, pick up the left lead. When you get to the end of the short side, start to turn across the diagonal. But when you are about a quarter of the way across, smoothly turn back toward the long side (in the original direction). That "smooth turn" is counter canter.

    Then work up to going halfway across the diagonal before turning back.

    Then you can go all the way across the diagonal, and turn so you are now countercantering on the rail.
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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by SpotznStripes View Post
    meupatdoes and Eventer13 do you realize you both just contradicted eachother? I agree with Eventer 13. Assuming OP is traveling clockwise (to the right) why would you weigh down the side of the horse (left) that needs to lift to get the outside lead?
    Firstly, because the rider should always hold their weight over/into the inside bend, regardless of whether a turn, a legyield, a shoulder in, a haunches in, a canter or counter canter is being ridden.
    It is a constant by which your horse determines where his bend ought to be.

    Secondly, sitting into the leading shoulder brings the inside hip forward to match the position of the horse's hip.

    Thirdly, it DOES free up the inside lead.
    Think of a legyield to the right. Rider sits into the left side of the horse (without leaning) to drive a 'barrier' down that shoulder and bow it out slightly. Left leg backs up the aid and sends horse sideways to the right.
    Same philosophy in canter.


    Your issues in counter canter probably stem from a lack of clarity between you and your horse on EXACTLY WHERE your lateral bend is supposed to be. Master the art of getting him off your inside leg from your seat before you even have to apply inside leg, and you will have the lateral control you need.

    If your seat is sending him left and your leg is sending him right it is a conflicting aid. Put all of your lateral aids on one side of the horse and be clear.



  12. #12
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    Jun. 20, 2010
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    meupatdoes - only way I can explain our differences in aids is based on what direction you bend the horse. My understanding is that you have to bend the horse in the direction of the leg you want to lead for counter canter - so to pick up the left lead traveling to the right, horse should be bent left. Weight would therefore be on right seatbone. Although I agree that your outside hip goes forward at the moment you ask for the counter lead - or inside hip for correct lead.



  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by SpotznStripes View Post
    meupatdoes - only way I can explain our differences in aids is based on what direction you bend the horse. My understanding is that you have to bend the horse in the direction of the leg you want to lead for counter canter - so to pick up the left lead traveling to the right, horse should be bent left. Weight would therefore be on right seatbone. Although I agree that your outside hip goes forward at the moment you ask for the counter lead - or inside hip for correct lead.
    No, if you want to bend the horse left, you sit into your LEFT seatbone. This pushes your weight into the left side of his spine to move him away from it- he moves his spine right away from the pressure you apply from the left with your left seat aid.
    If your right seatbone is weighting the right side of his spine, pushing it left, and your leg is asking him to bend his ribcage out to the right for left bend, which way is he supposed to bend? You are sending the bend left and right at once.

    You seem to be trying to convince me otherwise but in all honesty I am unlikely to change over to your method since my canter leads work 100% reliably on every horse I ride, so if it aint broke I aint gonna change it. I am trying to explain to you how I do it so maybe you have another option to get your counter canter, which you report gaving some difficulty with, to be 100% reliable too, but if you are happy with your way of doing it that is fine too.

    Secondly, regardless of what way you're going, the leading leg id your inside leg. If you are countercantering clockwise, your right leg is your inside leg.
    Last edited by meupatdoes; Oct. 12, 2011 at 01:05 PM.



  14. #14
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    Jun. 20, 2010
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    Okay, not sure if its appropriate to qoute this, but apparently there are different theories for canter depart aids:

    http://books.google.com/books?id=q6_...epage&q&f=true

    I do realize this is the H/J forum, however, shouldn't matter...interesting that there are different opinions on sth so basic.



  15. #15
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    Be on a left side and balance your weight properly so that maximum weight is put over the left leg only. Try doing half turn at the end of the long side of the ring.



  16. #16
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    : )
    and regardless of whether you are holding true bend or counter bend the "inside" always refers to bend, not the location of the rail.

    so if you are moving in counter bend to the right. (which means the rail is on the left).
    the inside leg, inside rein, inside whatever, is actually on the left, next to the rail.

    nice eh?
    enough to drive a rider nuts.

    furthermore, in regards to previous repsonses, a horse is straight at the canter when his inside fore and inside hind are even.
    Horses are naturally wider behind.
    Therefore, when traveling on the long side, across the diagonal, down the center line-wherever-you must canter in shoulder fore to have a straight horse.

    also, in regards to a previous response, if you start/initiate the canter with the outside leg you are not working with diagonal aids.
    Therefore initiation and supporting are terms that are being misunderstood in this thread. that's all.

    The outside leg in the canter supports the hind end and keeps it from swinging out.
    Swinging out isn't usually an issue though because most horses prefer to travel with their haunch slightly to the inside.

    My note about straightness and lateral work was not rude. It was just matter of fact.
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  17. #17
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    If you don't have an issue asking your horse for the left lead when you track left, just use the same aids.

    Try coming off the rail a bit to ask, and until he/she is more comfortable with the counter canter also try asking just out of the corner so you have the whole long side to get the counter canter established.



  18. #18
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    honestly...I think you are all making it more complicated than it should be.

    Sit straight. Have your horse straight. Where are his haunches? If he is too crooked or if you are too crooked..you will have trouble with the lead.

    If I want to pick up the counter canter on a greener horse...I just come off the rail and then ask for the canter transition heading back toward the rail....or do the shallow loop that Janet mentioned -- I do before coming across the ring to hold the cc.

    But honestly, picking up the counter canter shouldn't be hard. If you can get the lead in the true direction, it shouldn't be any harder to pick up the counter canter. To HOLD a counter canter around a turn is harder and it is key that you have control over the haunches.

    So I would get of the rail of the ring...and practice just picking up the correct lead without the rail. When that is easy, then ask for the counter canter.
    Last edited by bornfreenowexpensive; Oct. 12, 2011 at 05:21 PM.
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