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Creating more jump in the canter

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  • Creating more jump in the canter

    My horse's canter is her weakest gait. I know (and have heard from different trainers) that she needs more jump.

    I have worked on forward and back in the canter, counter canter, and lots of suppling work (bend and straighten, leg yield, shoulder-in).

    Any suggestions for exercises? Stories of your experiences or breakthroughs?

  • #2
    Yeah, all of those things you mentioned are good for improving the canter. Would maybe also introduce haunches in on like a 20m circle to get more flexion in the hind leg joints and loosen up the area behind the saddle.

    But, the quality of the work DURING the exercise is what's going to make the difference.

    IOW, you could go counter canter, just going large around the arena, not necessarily straight and out of balance in the corners and even though you're doing "counter canter" that's not going to do didley squat for improving the canter.

    Going forward and back is a big help, but again, if you're not showing big differences and really going for it......Also, sometimes it's tricky when trying to help install more jump (with the collection) that you get it, but it's the hind end jumping/bouncing up rather than adding more jump but keeping the shoulders up, hind legs joints having a lot of flexion, etc. Hard to manage all of it sometimes, especially if it's a weakness.

    Have one with naturally a flat canter (and croup high) and the biggest improvement comes with challenging counter canter work, some LY and HI, "school" canter work.

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    • #3
      Although it's not that easy to do in a dressage saddle, try riding in a half seat or posting to the canter. In particular posting to the canter is a good way to loosen up a horse's back but both techniques will encourage the horse to step under more.
      Equine Ink - My soapbox for equestrian writings & reviews.
      EquestrianHow2 - Operating instructions for your horse.

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      • #4
        Immediate (as in NO trot steps) Walk-Canter transitions took my guy's canter from about a 6 to an 8 in a relatively short period of time. As soon as he lost the jump and quality in the canter we went back to the walk. Then we repeated. Just don't overdue it or you will blow out a tendon or something. It takes time to build up the strength in the hind end.

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        • #5
          I agree with all of the replies that you have gotten thus far.

          So, playing around with getting solid transitions (walk-canter-walk especially--re-read dwblover's post ) and getting a true collected as well as extended canter out of your horse while making sure that there is a noticeable difference between his collected, working, and extended canter. For a collected canter, you want to keep the same power and impulsion while simply collecting the gait.

          In addition to the advice already posted, throwing in a bit of shoulder-fore in canter will help a horse with further developing collection, as well as making making them really engage their hind legs and continue to encourage them to use their back.
          Originally posted by RugBug
          Don't throw away opportunities because they aren't coming in exactly the form you want them to.

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          • #6
            You do canter loops? That has helped my horse go from 6 gaits and 5-6 canter to 8 gaits and canter!

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            • Original Poster

              #7
              Hugely better today!

              So I gave it some thought and went back to basics today.

              My horse needs a lot of suppling to let go of her tension, and the tension is what shuts down her canter.

              Today I broke it down and suppled her MORE CLEARLY than I had been: I put her in one rein, then I put her in the other, with the "non" rein completely loose. I repeated this several times on a very large circle, without counter-bending. I made either rein the outside rein, regardless of the direction, with the "inside" leg to support. I made sure she was forward throughout. Her back let go, and there was my canter! I then put the two reins at work together and went on to counter canter loops.

              NorCal, you are spot on. Doing counter canter without really working it correctly just keeps the tension but in the other direction! Dressage for Life, my trainer recommended shoulder-in and leg yield at the canter as well as trot-canter-trot transitions on a circle.

              (Lara, by loops, I presume you mean counter-canter loops.)

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              • #8
                Yeah, when they have a tension issue that adds another element to it. My flat canter horse doesn't have that issue :-) If anything a little too relaxed maybe....


                The other good thing with some of those exercises is they will really expose your weak areas. Sometimes you think you have something confirmed with a horse and then you're shown otherwise when you go to do the movement or ask for more, etc.

                Best wishes with your mare!

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                • #9
                  This isn't a very concrete suggestion, but one trainer that I rode in a few clinics under would say "You're sitting on his hind end, ride his hind end and ride the jump." That image and feeling, along with really using my abs, helped me figure out how to ask my horse for more up.

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                  • #10
                    Nice to hear that you found what worked for improving your mare's canter
                    Originally posted by RugBug
                    Don't throw away opportunities because they aren't coming in exactly the form you want them to.

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