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Cantering: How to Keep Impulsion and Balance on the Turns

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  • Cantering: How to Keep Impulsion and Balance on the Turns

    I've been cantering in my group hunter flat lessons for a month or so and today my horse had problems keeping his balance on the turns without slowing down significantly. This wasn't that desirable since there were 6 other horses on the track cantering at the same time and a major slowdown from one horse would have caused an accordian effect with all the other horses and riders.

    At the beginning, I kept an assertive leg on him round the turns to keep up the pace but then he started to lean his body weight into the turns. I ended up putting more weight in my outside leg to counteract it; it balanced me more but it still didn't balance him out so there has got to be a better way.

    Has anyone had problems with this? How did you keep your horse from falling inside without breaking the pace? Do some horses have to slow down that much to balance themselves? I have heard about half-halts to balance the horse before and after a turn but so far I've only used the half-halt to transition from one gait to another and I feared he might slow down even more if I gave him a half-halt and with two horses on our butts I didn't really want to chance it.

  • #2
    My pony does not really do this, but a project pony that I ride actually is kind of the opposite. She can balance around a turn, but to do so, she decides to speed up and just get the turn over with. Lots of half halts. Riding in the ring with others can be challenging, like you said, because I don't want to run into the butt of another horse if she decides to take off But riding her alone REALLY helps. I don't have to worry about getting in anyones way or running into something/someone. Just focusing on fixing the problem without worrying anything else helps a ton. Do you have the chance to hack the horse alone or get a private lesson once or twice? I strongly suggest finding a time to ride the horse alone so you can just focus on finding out what works best to solve the problem on your horse without worrying about the traffic.

    Try half halts. Serpentines. Figure eights. Lateral work. Have you tried lunging your horse? With the constant turning of a circle, your horse will have to figure out how to balance up.

    As far as my pony (the non-project pony), he does not have balancing problems around a turn, but he wont just make a nice turn on his own. I really have to push him into the corner or around the turn. I like to think about bending and leg yielding on a turn. Think about just going around a corner. I like to use my inside leg to push him into the corner, to help bend him around a little. Leg yielding can help.

    Blitz <3 & Leap of Faith <3


    • #3
      Is this your horse or a school horse you only ride in lessons?

      Makes a huge difference what you can do.
      When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

      The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.


      • #4
        I also deal with this. What works for me is opening (but not pulling on) the outside rein, shortening the inside rein and squeezing with the inside leg in addition to (as you mentioned) stretching through my outside leg (even leaning a bit to the outside). It really helps me on the old schoolie I'm riding and has helped me build stamina as a rider too. Good luck!


        • Original Poster

          Originally posted by findeight
          Is this your horse or a school horse you only ride in lessons?

          Makes a huge difference what you can do.
          He's a school horse I ride in a once-a-week hour lesson. I noticed he wasn't leaning when we took turns riding the horses one at a time with the serpentine and he is a good horse that has done well for others so I think its the way I'm riding him.


          • #6
            Best thing to do is support him with your seat and legs around the turns. Balance him by keeping slight contact on your outside rein and slightly pulling the inside rein toward you. One of my trainers once gave the example of your legs being like scissors around the turns if you're horse leans in. It's all about balance, yours and your horses. Oh and sit up and riiiiiide the turns, if your horse is leaning in, don't lean with him, sit straight use your legs.
            Also everyone else has given great advice on doing circles in your corners and serpentines as well as figure eights. Those have all helped horses I have had this problem with! Good luck!!!


            • #7
              Half halt, half halt, half halt.


              • #8
                I agree with a couple of the other posters. Definitely opening outside rein and use that inside leg to hold him up. Also lifting up on your inside rein helps hold them up through the turn. I have the same problem with my mare. She isn't slow around the turn, but she is fast and strong and tends to lean in.


                • #9
                  This is what bending is all about. I recommend a lot of good dressage lessons and serious lateral work (in addition to circles, spirals, serpentines) to teach you and your horse to move and position the HQ's and shoulders more precisely and independently, with the body bending supplely between, regardless of the kind of track you're riding.
                  Horses lose their balance, leaning in on the turns like motorcycles, because they are (like motorcycles), too stiff and/or off the aids to bend. When they learn to bend around your inside leg instead of falling against it, they can and do stay comfortably balanced and capable of responding to your aids without falling apart. As some others have suggested, finding the necessary balance involves pushing the horse with the inside leg into the outside rein (to limit the degree of bend/ bring the shoulder around), using the outside leg to guard against the horse evading the bend by swinging the quarters out.

                  I would not, BTW, recommend an outside opening rein, which is much more likely to produce a counter bend than a proper one-- which is often seen in lower level hunters. While counterbending through turns is preferrable to overbending/bulging or just letting the horse fly through on his own, it has no where near the value of proper bending, which will transform each corner into an opportunity to improve (rather than damage) your horse's balance.


                  • #10
                    Can you swing some private or semi private lessons with only 1 or 2 others in there?

                    Sometimes group lessons don't give the instructor enough individual time with each rider...and there are volumes written and video/dvds produced about things like "Demystifying the Half Halt" and learning about proper bending. Kind of hard to explain the theory and work on a single rider mastering anything with 5 other riders with 5 other problems in a 45 min to 1 hour session. Too much of the time they consider it a success if nobody falls off or dominates all their time.

                    Also, once a week is not going to get you as strong in the seat and leg as you need to be to execute alot of this work, can you get some more saddle time in?

                    Otherwise it's the "D" word. Do some reading, watch some DVDs. But try not to overthink and get so bogged in theory you can't get it done from the saddle-that happens to alot.
                    When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

                    The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.


                    • Original Poster

                      Originally posted by findeight
                      Can you swing some private or semi private lessons with only 1 or 2 others in there?
                      Yes, findeight, I'm also taking a 30 minute private lesson on Sunday. But I hear you on the group lesson. A lot of lessons, one rider takes up more of the teacher's time and its not always the same one so I end up experimenting on my own sometimes. The private lessons are an opportunity for me to ask questions and get immediate feedback though sometimes I don't have the same issue on a different horse. Today in my private lesson, I noticed that this horse was barrelling around the turns too but I noticed a difference; his canter seemed bumpy, but I think its that elliptical motion that takes your seat on an ellipse in the canter. My instructors have talked about it but I haven't been really able to feel it but on this horse finally I did and he was balancing a lot better when I sat to that rather than go back and forth which was good since he really doesn't like an open outside rein.

                      A lot of good advice here on the inside leg. Previously I've been hesitant to use it too strongly since I'm used to using the outside leg more in the canter.


                      • #12
                        If I'm in a group lesson, and someone is so close behind me that I can't slow down safely, I usually do a small circle and come in behind the other horses with a safe following distance. Coming in off the track to leave room for the horse behind to pass on the outside is also an option, or cutting across the arena to the other side if it's really crowded. Of course, you should check with your instructor first, but I've seen a lot of larger group lessons where the horses are getting closer and closer together, and it really isn't safe.

                        I feel that half-halting a couple of strides before the turn, then adding some inside leg helps. Also, I have to make sure I keep my outside shoulder back a smidge, and turn from my middle (instead of letting the outside shoulder slide forward). Otherwise, it makes the horse get unbalanced and pop his shoulder out.
                        Stay me with coffee, comfort me with chocolate, for I am sick of love.