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Improving Canter Departs

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  • Improving Canter Departs

    Things are progressing nicely with my Saddlebred gelding.
    We are finally both getting the concept of consistent contact.

    He has a pretty naturally balanced canter and our canter work is the the best part of our work...except the canter departs.

    Typically, as we are somewhere approaching/leaving the short side at a posting trot, I will sit the trot, HH, ask him to leg yield just a bit to the outside and then gently ask with my outside leg back a bit and my inside leg at the girth. He responds by raising his head and jumping into the canter, and then settles back in immediately.

    Clearly I am doing something wrong!

    My instructor had me try many different things in my last lesson, but we really didn't improve it. Every lesson we start out lunging and asking for nice quiet canter departs and we get them most of the time now on the lunge by just leading out with the line and kissing. She told me to play around with it, that I need to figure out what works for my horse.

    Some things we tried included:
    Less forward at the trot
    More forward at the trot
    Stronger outside rein connection
    Giving more rein
    More bend
    Lighter outside leg cue

    So, looking for suggestions on fixing this rider-induced canter depart problem. Maybe it is my timing?

  • #2
    Have you tried it from the walk? Sometimes it is easier for the horse that way as the rhythm is more similar. I have one guy that his walk-canters are always better than trot-canters, which really improved after we started walk-canter.

    Also, does he canter the exact moment you ask? If not, it might be a timing issue, and sitting 3 trot strides then cantering can help get the timing quicker.

    Comment


    • #3
      take out the LY. it's crap and throws horses onto the forehand (my personal opinion of course). try a shoulder fore in it's place.
      stay consistent in your outside rein, and shift your inside seatbone forward as if to say "let's go this way" and the canter cue should be clearer for your horse.
      www.destinationconsensusequus.com
      chaque pas est fait ensemble

      Comment

      • Original Poster

        #4
        Originally posted by Sancudo View Post
        Have you tried it from the walk? Sometimes it is easier for the horse that way as the rhythm is more similar. I have one guy that his walk-canters are always better than trot-canters, which really improved after we started walk-canter.

        Also, does he canter the exact moment you ask? If not, it might be a timing issue, and sitting 3 trot strides then cantering can help get the timing quicker.
        His walk-canter transitions are better than his trot-canter transitions. Maybe I can do more of those to help the trot-canter ones.

        At this point, we are not asking him for immediate response. My instructor wants a quiet depart over an immediate one. I do sit the trot for 3 strides before asking.

        Comment

        • Original Poster

          #5
          Originally posted by Petstorejunkie View Post
          take out the LY. it's crap and throws horses onto the forehand (my personal opinion of course). try a shoulder fore in it's place.
          stay consistent in your outside rein, and shift your inside seatbone forward as if to say "let's go this way" and the canter cue should be clearer for your horse.
          OK I will try SF instead of LY, and will pay attention to my inside seatbone.

          Thank you both for responding!

          Comment


          • #6
            Do you make the same kissing noise in the saddle that you do while lunging him (when your asking for the canter)? If he doesn't throw his head on the lunge, it might help to use the same cues in the saddle until he is more comfortable, then slowly cut them out I also agree with the shoulder-fore instead of the leg yield going into it.

            Good luck

            Comment


            • #7
              Combine Sancudo and Petstorejunkie's advice and your canter depart awaits!!!
              "Success comes in cans, not in cannots!"

              Comment

              • Original Poster

                #8
                Originally posted by Piaffe11 View Post
                Do you make the same kissing noise in the saddle that you do while lunging him (when your asking for the canter)? If he doesn't throw his head on the lunge, it might help to use the same cues in the saddle until he is more comfortable, then slowly cut them out I also agree with the shoulder-fore instead of the leg yield going into it.

                Good luck
                I do not kiss in the saddle because I already struggle to keep my mouth shut during shows. The last thing my friend always tells me as I go in the ring is "Turn off your clucker!"

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Petstorejunkie View Post
                  take out the LY. it's crap and throws horses onto the forehand (my personal opinion of course). try a shoulder fore in it's place.
                  stay consistent in your outside rein, and shift your inside seatbone forward as if to say "let's go this way" and the canter cue should be clearer for your horse.
                  Yep, and throw in the kissing noise on top of it when you're asking SOFTLY. If he thinks your aids are conflicting or too strong, he'll also want to throw up his head because he will be breaking through the back through your over driving (seat and/or leg). Help him understand the connection.

                  Also, in the trot you need to be timed correctly just as in the walk. Don't randomly ask--he might not be able to give you the lead you want if you're asking at the wrong moment.
                  "And I'm thinking you weren't burdened with an overabundance of schooling." - Capt Reynolds "Firefly"

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Do figure 8s in trot with a change of lead/bend/down/up transitions in the middle. When he has that down, do a canter transition in the middle, next time around a down transition and so on. He will start to anticipate the changes and be ready to make them. If you are using the correct aids he will learn what they mean. This will also lead in to flying changes in time. Once he is anticipating your aids, you take him out of the pattern and test them at a different place.
                    (this all assume you have already established rythm and relaxation in his gaits)

                    A good place to read; http://www.classicaldressage.net/mem...ansitions.html
                    Last edited by Equibrit; Jun. 9, 2011, 12:22 PM.
                    ... _. ._ .._. .._

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      No expert here, but we've had similar issues and along with some of the great advice here, we threw in some hill work. Not big hills, but just enough to get him to push from behind, use his neck to lift his withers, and come over his back. We did some w/t/c (and gallop) uphill for awhile before throwing in a canter transition (from walk or trot). I think it is partly a strength issue and this seemed to help him understand he really had to get his hind legs under, round and lift at his withers.
                      Good luck and glad to hear he is doing well for you!
                      Wiiliam
                      "A good horse is worth more than riches."
                      - Spanish Proverb

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        It will be easier from the trot if you switch to the "wrong" diagonal before asking for the depart.

                        Slide your outside leg back a little bit, weight your inside stirrup, and ask for the canter with both legs. A little shoulder fore can't hurt, but keep the angle very small.
                        Donald Trump - proven liar, cheat, traitor and sexual predator! Hillary Clinton won in 2016, but we have all lost.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I am going to go in the direction of it may not be him it may be you...

                          I was having this problem with my mare for three main reasons, ask for the canter and she chucked her head in the air and jump into the canter.

                          At first the problem was that she was getting "surprised" when I asked for the canter. An instructor suggested that I do a cluck-cluck-kiss to give her a second to not get surprised or stressed before the canter. After awhile that did the trick for "surprising" her.

                          Now with the rest of the problem... I was not following her enough with my hands/elbow (blocking the forward at the wrong instant). What else was I doing, I was clamping with my thighs/crotch which blocked her again. A different instructor that I had not used before noted these issues of mine.

                          Her departs are getting much better now, as long as I am not messing up now...

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Another exercise I have used for improving transitions is to work on a 20 meter circle, while sitting the trot, and practice:

                            Trot > canter > trot > canter > trot > canter > trot > canter

                            Do not canter until you like the trot. Do not trot until you like the canter. Then you will see just what it takes to get the round departure (and nice downward transitions, too).

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I used to have a student with a saddlebred gelding with similar issues. What worked for them was to use the spiral out circle at the trot.

                              Pick up the trot on a 10 meter circle and ask your horse to stay slightly bent to the inside as you would ride a proper circle. Gradually ask the horse to enlarge the circle with your inside leg outside rein connection (think a small leg yeild) while keeping the inside bend. Make sure that your circle enlarges gradually so that you maintain a nice connection with your horse and they are not falling out onto their outside shoulder and losing their balance.

                              Prepare for your depart ahead of time by determining that your cirlce is big enough for your horse's training in that they would be comfortable cantering on a circle of that size. On that last circle, continue to ask the horse to spiral out as described and then apply your aids for canter as your horse is stepping into the outside rein from your inside leg and maintaining the bend.

                              Good luck!
                              "I've got to keep on chasin' that dream though I may never find it." - Boston

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Make sure you are preparing for the depart much like you would a halt. This helps to gather the horse's energy and produce a cleaner depart. As far as asking for a LY?? No. If you are getting decent departs on the lunge, you don't need the LY. And watch the outside leg aid... it should be a passive thing, not an active. It's there as an outside parameter to prevent the horse from throwing haunches out and shouldn't be used as an "activating" aid.

                                Also, don't forget the basics. A good place to start is on a 20m circle with a nice flexion/bend to the inside.

                                Don't fall for the whole "it's easier from the walk"... this might be true for the rider, but that's only because many riders lose the connection with the horse during sitting trot. If your goal is to depart from trot, practice it that way.

                                Best of luck to you!
                                Creek Ridge Farm
                                Trakehner Horses

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by creekridgefarm View Post
                                  Don't fall for the whole "it's easier from the walk"... this might be true for the rider, but that's only because many riders lose the connection with the horse during sitting trot. If your goal is to depart from trot, practice it that way.
                                  I totally agree with this statement. I do most of my transitions from the walk at this point, because we are working on showing Second Level, but that was only AFTER I got my departs steady and correct from the trot. When I first got my mare, I fell into asking from the walk initially because I had trouble getting a soft transition from the trot. And, that is because of what Creekridge points out - I was losing the connection when asking from the trot because I didn't have my aids totally coordinated yet. I worked with an instructor who didn't let me ask from the walk anymore until I got them steady and smooth from the trot. I don't think it's uncommon to to get your aids a bit jumbled initially when going from the posting trot to the sitting trot when preparing for the canter depart. Sitting trot is hard enough, right? So I don't think it should be surprising that getting a good canter depart in that respect can be difficult.

                                  I don't have any specific exercises to add that other posters haven't already. However, I will add that continuing to build up strength in the hind end is also key. It's not just about working on the specific transition, it's also about doing suppling work and doing it well - shoulder-ins, leg yields, travers, etc. And, get out of the ring and do some work out in the field, if you can. The various terrain is great for helping build up hind end strength.

                                  Good luck! Transitions are hard to do well, but when you start to get them, your efforts will definitely pay off.
                                  Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit sniffing glue.

                                  A Voice Halted

                                  Comment

                                  • Original Poster

                                    #18
                                    Originally posted by LarkspurCO View Post
                                    Another exercise I have used for improving transitions is to work on a 20 meter circle, while sitting the trot, and practice:

                                    Trot > canter > trot > canter > trot > canter > trot > canter

                                    Do not canter until you like the trot. Do not trot until you like the canter. Then you will see just what it takes to get the round departure (and nice downward transitions, too).
                                    Tonight we did this - lots of transitions, but not making the transition until we liked the current gait. When I liked the trot, a little shoulder fore and ta-da! Nicely relaxed round canter departs!

                                    My trainer was practically jumping up and down with excitement!

                                    Comment

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