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Canter from walk

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  • Canter from walk

    We're working on cantering from a walk. Darn if I can't seem to figure it out - I get about 3 trot steps in there every time. Trot to canter is great. Same with downwards. Trainer is helping me, but sometimes I just need to hear it another way or new analogy.

    Thanks and Happy New Year!

  • #2
    I would do a lot of leg yielding into your trot to canter transition. In general I do a lot of leg yielding, shoulder-in, turns on haunches, upward/downward transitions to activate the hind end and to keep my horse in front of my leg.

    If you are asking for walk to canter and get trot steps then stop and start over, this may take lots of repetition. Talk to your horse the the whole time so he does not think you are mad at him when he is learning this exercise. Don't tip forward, that only encourages him to go on his forehand, stay upright {almost thinking your upper body abit behind the verticle(recliner chair)}.
    It takes more to push off than you think from a non-suspension gait. Once you get it, make a big deal over your horse -- praise him. I talk to mine all the time, growl when needed and praise when it is attempted to do good and bigger praises for doing it right.
    Good luck and lots of patience.
    Do not do too much walk -canter transitions before a horseshow if you are still showing training or first level or else your trot-canter transitions won't be very relaxed. Been there -did that.


    • #3
      Don't know exactly what's causing you headaches, but when I learned this, it was tough for me intuitively to maintain a proper amount of contact and sit UP when asking for the transition. I was tilting forward and releasing the reins ever-so-slightly even though I couldn't feel it.
      Once my trainer had me whipped into shape and I did maintain contact and sit up, horse got it right away. May be worth a try.
      "This thing we call 'failure' is not the falling down, but the staying down" - Mary Pickford


      • #4
        what works for me

        leg yield, lift my ribcage, canter.
        A man must love a thing very much if he not only practices it without any hope of fame or money, but even practices it without any hope of doing it well.--G. K. Chesterton


        • #5
          I'm guilty of the same as above... letting my own body tip forward slightly in anticipation and giving the reins, when I really needed to be sitting up and collecting my horse more. It helped me to visualize picking up my horse's front end and asking the back end for the transition. Maybe a little extreme, but somehow when I saw it that way in my mind, my body coordinated better. Once I fixed those two things, I hardly *think* canter and off we go! Of course, it may be easier on my ottb, it's his favorite transition to practice!
          Gallant Gesture "Liam" 1995 chestnut ottb gelding
          Mr. Painter "Remy" 2006 chestnut ottb gelding
          My Training Blog: www.dressagefundamentals.com


          • #6
            Besides your seat, etc. like has been mentioned, the key here is really that the horse needs to be much more through and in front of your leg as in the trot/canter transitions. I don't know which level you ride at, but if these things aren't there the transitions won't be correct! If your horse is through and in front of your leg it does NOT take a lot of "pushing" to go from the walk to the canter. A little squeeze with inside leg and correct positioning of the seatbone should do it! For me it is one of tests I use to see if my horse is through and it is a great feeling when she is there, but if you or the horse are not ready, it will just be frustrating! Good luck!
            Hoppe, Hoppe, Reiter...
            Wenn er faellt dann schreit er...

            Originally posted by mbm
            forward is like love - you can never have enough


            • #7
              This is one of the best things to ride at the lower levels. When you get up out of the way of your horse lifting into the canter with just a slight aide- Heaven! or close anyway!

              One's horse has to be much more impulsive than one expects, and a true marching walk well up into the aides prepares for the energy needed to lift up.

              Have fun and good luck.
              "The Threat of Internet Ignorance: ... we are witnessing the rise of an age of equestrian disinformation, one where a trusting public can graze on nonsense packaged to look like fact."-LRG-AF


              • #8
                Shoulder in, create energy/straightness, ask for the depart, follow up with seat/leg support to sustain it. It the horse is trotting the rider is not sustaining their erect posture or is just releasing the horse. Remember what hindleg you want to effect. HOW are you asking? Inside leg or outside? What is your follow up?
                I.D.E.A. yoda


                • #9
                  Sitting tall, as said, marching in a 10 m circle on the wall. As you come to the wall give your aids with the timing to allow the lift off as you leave again on a 10 m circle. If you get a successful upward to canter, the circle can be allowed to widen.
                  Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.

                  Remember the horse does all the work, we just sit there and look pretty.


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by CatOnLap View Post
                    This is one of the best things to ride at the lower levels. When you get up out of the way of your horse lifting into the canter with just a slight aide- Heaven! or close anyway!
                    I always get this wow feeling, like this is it! We're dancing!
                    Hoppe, Hoppe, Reiter...
                    Wenn er faellt dann schreit er...

                    Originally posted by mbm
                    forward is like love - you can never have enough


                    • #11
                      Great advice already given.

                      Here's another perspective if you've got a horse like my current horse. My aids are to collect the walk, lift my inside thigh and hip up and forward, and slightly lean forward. This works for my particular horse.

                      My horse overthinks the aids and anticipates like mad. She often confuses walk-canter tranisition for a turn on the haunches, so even a hint of outside leg either swings her haunches or her shoulders. SHe has learned where these things are in the arena. It doesn't matter how *I* ride it, she's already anticipating what she thinks is going to happen, and in tests, medium walk goes to collected walk and into pirouettes. She does this for my trainer, too, until she understands that CANTER is what is being asked and then she does this transition. But it is difficult to get on the first try, even for good trainers. I had a BNT ride her not long ago, and this BNT leans slightly forward in the walk-canter transition to free the horse's back a little and make a very clear aid. She does this on her GP horses, too. i thought "huh"...this seems to be working for my horse. Low and behold, this works for my horse and is now how I ride it. Strange little girl, my horse.

                      Proud member of the Colbert Dressage Nation


                      • Original Poster

                        thank you everyone, for your great suggestions. I'm riding a little later this morning, so will post and let ya'll know how it goes . Tipping forward in my upper body is not something that happens - but I hadn't thought about consciously lifting my rib cage. Fingers crossed!!!


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by ideayoda View Post
                          Shoulder in, create energy/straightness, ask for the depart, follow up with seat/leg support to sustain it. It the horse is trotting the rider is not sustaining their erect posture or is just releasing the horse. Remember what hindleg you want to effect. HOW are you asking? Inside leg or outside? What is your follow up?
                          Exactly. But also if the horse is not strong enough it is not unusual for one or two trot strides, it is not the end of the world if it happens. Just don't get upset as it gets better.

                          Just follow what was said above and be patient and wait.


                          • #14
                            When I taught my mare walk to canters, I did it on my own (no trainer, just something I decided to work on one day). I did a lot of warm up in the walk, leg-yield, moving the haunches only, moving just the shoulders. Basically making the horse very supple and responsive. All of this was done in a very collected walk, which happens to be quite easy for my mare.

                            I used my inside leg first to establish a bend, then slid my outside leg back to ask for canter. This was the same cue I used in canter to trot. At first, I would get a couple trot steps. That is normal for a horse just learning. Canter a bit, praise lavishly, then try again.

                            The horse also cannot be leaning on the bit at all. He needs to have more weight on his haunches and really be over the back and active with the hind legs.

                            Give it time, do a lot of work in the walk getting the horse supple and responsive, and then ask calmly and clearly. Be patient. My mare soon became very balanced in the walk to canter, much moreso than trot to canter.


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by CatOnLap View Post
                              This is one of the best things to ride at the lower levels. When you get up out of the way of your horse lifting into the canter with just a slight aide- Heaven! or close anyway!

                              One's horse has to be much more impulsive than one expects, and a true marching walk well up into the aides prepares for the energy needed to lift up.

                              Have fun and good luck.
                              I agree and this is the movement that got me hooked on dressage in the beginning. Also, think about cantering UP a staircase, just a little up, up, and up.


                              • #16
                                More on Walk to Canter

                                Originally posted by ideayoda View Post
                                Shoulder in, create energy/straightness, ask for the depart, follow up with seat/leg support to sustain it. It the horse is trotting the rider is not sustaining their erect posture or is just releasing the horse. Remember what hindleg you want to effect. HOW are you asking? Inside leg or outside? What is your follow up?
                                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”.

                                Happy New Year everyone!

                                Dave Thind
                                Certified German 'Trainer A' F.N. (Master Level)


                                • #17
                                  The big danger is doing this before the muscles are developed so the horse gets it by pushing to the outside, becoming crooked, or lifting his head and neck and shoulder. It has to come more from a push from behind and from collection rather than a first huge big stride with the front legs trying to claw upward, that is what happens if the strength is not there in the hind quarter.

                                  This gigantic first stride is really a problem, and then the quality of the canter after is not good. Yes in general big strides are nice but right here, it causes a problem. The rider may have to prevent the horse from taking a big front leg step like that. Occasionally you have to just say, i have to get this transition once or twice and just get this beast to canter from a walk, so oh well if it's not quite perfect, but later go back and fix that big first step.

                                  Leg yielding by going sideways can bring on another problem, the horse goes thru the outside aids and does a crooked transition lifting his neck and shoulder. Leg yielding like just pressing the inside hind leg inward, without actually letting it get going sideways, can give a better result. Shoulder in can help but only if the horse is strong enough to do the transition in shoulder in, that tends to be more a correction with more trained horses, than something a greener horse finds easy, but it does help them sometimes if they are stronger already.

                                  It's better to put it off than to get it at an early stage in training by the horse lifting his neck and shoulder as that is a bigger problem that is hard to get rid of. It needs to come after the trot canter transition really pushes the horse across the ground but also other work has to be there, halt trot transitions, rein back trot transitions, etc.

                                  If it is time to do it, try not doing it like it is in the tests to start.

                                  It can help to ask for the transition from a shorter trot, with the horse very collected, which can kind of simulate almost the effort needed from the walk, tho at the walk the effort is still more and of course the sequence of footfalls is different. It can help the rider to get the idea too. It can also help to try to pick up the canter from a trot shoulder in, before trying it from walk.

                                  Another exercise for when the hind legs get out of position, is to rein back 1 step (no, no more is needed, this is only to position the hind legs, not for anything else) and then ask for the canter. Most horses object at first ('you mean i have to use my hind legs????').

                                  Then one can try canter, then walk. Walk until the walk is rhythmic and active and together - don't try to get it in three steps. Just walk til the walk is right. With some horses the walk needs to be a little bit busier and quicker without losing its rhythm.

                                  Think of having a little bit different aid at the walk to ask to canter, for some people they sit much deeper or touch the reins a little differently, it really helps to have it slightly different in your mind and the horse's. Some people stop letting their seat roll along with the motion of the gait when they want a canter transition, where as when they want to trot they let their seat be looser and following.

                                  With some riders the aids are just not firm enough and the horse has to be called to attention, a tap of the whip may help if it is on the outside hind on the gaskin ie, a little lower down - it says move that leg first.

                                  The aids to trot may be a little more of a simultaneous repeated pulse/tap with the legs and a little less firm, and the canter aid you can almost hold your breath a little and give a firmer aid and not pulse or tap, just put your leg on, inside leg at girth, outside leg slightly back, if the horse half passes or does haunches in at least you are getting some reaction (outside leg is probably too far back and person not sitting enough), hold your breath, sit down deeper, and put the leg on once, so you both know the difference.

                                  A cute old trick was to take a big loud deep breath with your lips a little closed, when you want the canter transition and not do so at any other time, LOL. The horse can hear it, hopefully no one else does, LOL.

                                  The trot aid is sort of tap tap tap, the canter aid is suck in and hold your breath, boom, go. Also to ask for canter if there is enough impulsion you can include with your aids pushing inside hip forward in a way that is not done for haunches in or half pass, to telll him there is a different thing wanted here.

                                  another suggestion, don't practice again and again doing it from 3 walk steps, that tends to cause anticipation. when training break it up and don't do it like it is in the test.


                                  • #18
                                    I am not going to quote the whole thing, but everyone should read Dave Thind's post above. It is excellent!!!

                                    Dave, the method you described is also what my current trainer has been teaching me. However, i don't think i understand what you said about backing the outside hind. could you please explain further?

                                    Originally posted by Dave Thind View Post
                                    for long term dressage training, the canter should be taken by
                                    1. first slightly backing the outside hindleg


                                    • #19

                                      Hello everyone,
                                      That ofcourse was meant to read putting the outside leg (rider) back..

                                      Certified German 'Trainer A' F.N. (Master Level)


                                      • #20
                                        Rodeo, there were questions asked about how you specifically were doing the transition. In order to give more, those things must be in order.

                                        Imho the outside leg is already more back because the horse is in 'position'. If the rider puts it back to depart there is a great danger of the hindquarters moving in.

                                        And the use of reinback has to be intention because it depends upon which diagonal pair is moved.
                                        I.D.E.A. yoda