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Help me canter COTH'ers - another update post #36

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  • Original Poster

    Thanks DbHanoverian & liltiger2! I've never heard of cantering up a hill like that to learn. Very interesting! Right now, outside is covered in about 4 feet of snow so maybe something I can suggest for lessons later. But, seriously, if I'm not cantering by the time the snow melts, o.m.g. lol!

    I do feel bumpy and a bit out of control when I canter, which I know will get better with more cantering...what a circle! My two point is not strong yet either so that's something we work on in my lesson's too. Plus, goals of exercising outside the ring to help inside the ring are being put back in place this week. My lesson on Sunday was cancelled b/c it was so cold and snow was sliding off the roof that would have made me jumpy and anxious. I'm getting better with the fear, but why put myself in that frame of mind before I'm even on the horse, right?

    Someone asked me by PM if I wouldn't mind sharing what happened. Maybe it will help give my pov and everyone can see why I really appreciate your help and good wishes with still riding. Almost 2 years ago, I fell off after misjudging my trot circle. I fought falling for several strides so when I finally fell, I fell into the arena wall. Long story short, I was in the hospital for almost 2 weeks, off work for 4 months, and off riding for 10 months. I had a concussion, collapsed lung, sprained hand and 7 broken ribs. And, after I finally got back on after that, 9 months later, fell again after horse spooked at the rain on the metal roof and got a concussion. That led to 4 more months off horse and leaving that barn and starting where I am now last summer.

    There ya have it. If only I could go back in time and fall into the dirt so I didn't have this monkey on my shoulder of knowing what can now happen. You'd think it would be the other way around. Less fear b/c I know what can happen and the odds of it happening again like that are slim (knock on wood!). The feelings will probably never go away 100% since I'm an adult rider, but maybe I can learn how to handle them better.

    Thanks again all...and tonight WE SHALL CANTER! (Positive thinking start now!)


    • #22
      Wow, what a terrible story! Huge congrats for coming back to horses after all that!

      Are you doing lots of positive visualization? I read in one of those sports psychology books that the brain does not know the difference between the scenarios we imagine and real, actual occurrences. So if you are thinking about all the terrible things that could go wrong, your brain treats those as real items and will provide all of the anxiety that would go with them. But if you visualize *positive* experiences, your brain also internalizes those as well, and you'll gain the confidence you would have as if they actually happened. I'd think it would be excellent to sit down and visualize canter transitions over and over the way you want them to happen. Concentrate on the feel of the horse, the action required to get the horse into the canter and even your actions if the horse does not step into the gait right away. Always stay positive!

      Something else that may also aid is to longe the horse prior to your ride. If you can get him to step smartly up into the canter with a voice aid from the ground, that should translate to under saddle as well.


      • #23
        I came back to riding after a minimum of 20 years. It was actually longer than that but I'm counting every single time including the oddball ones. I could walk fine, looked good, aids still pretty consistent, trot fine, make big circles and small yada yada. After my third lesson we were going to canter and I thought it would be a piece of cake, well, not so much. I had carried a lot of fear through the years and bounced, pretty badly. We tried different horses different methods and what got me going again was the outdoor method as described. It was something I thought of as fun, while being controlled so I was confident that there was someone else to slow us down if needed, or at least talk me through it.

        Now, keeping a canter going is tough for me even now. Truthfully, I don't care and they can tell. Doing a course is different, we need to canter and my mind is distracted by the jumps.
        I know nowadays it's almost impossible to get outside the arena and ride a canter on a lesson horse, so it's just going to take OP longer. Get strength in the two point - anything discombobulating can be going on underneath you and with a good two point you can just relax and let it get sorted out and stay out of the horse's way.
        Nobody has suggested reading "That Winning Feeling" by Jane Savoie - it's relentlessly positive but also very helpful for fear issues.
        Courageous Weenie Eventer Wannabe
        Incredible Invisible


        • #24
          I know you say your problem is "cuing" the canter but I think that's based at least partly on a fear of the cantering itself. You may think you want to start but inside you might not really... We've probably all gone through that unless we were born on a pony, like the lucky kids! Anyway, one thing I would do in addition to watching Westerns, is to actually watch someone canter "your" horse. It is a lesson horse, right, with other people riding it? I'm not talking about analyzing the way they cue him, I'm talking about just watching somebody canter around and around the ring on him so you can see how steady he is, that he's not taking off on them, etc. Move in time to his rhythm while you're standing there watching. Probably sounds crazy but it helped me when I had the canter fear... if you watch "nothing bad happen" for long enough - until it gets boring! - it helps you visualize "nothing bad" happening to you, too. Plus seeing what he does at a canter can be quite different than what it feels like if you're nervous. I used to ride a horse that just felt like it was LEAPING into the canter but when I watched my instructor ride him I realized it wasn't really any big thing. I hope this makes sense. Good luck and good for you for persisting!
          It's just grass and water till it hits the ground.


          • Original Poster

            You guys are great, you know that??! I love all the advice and encouragement you are all giving me. Thank you!

            Simkie - such a good idea to visualize positive! It really is easy to think negative isn't it? I did some of that tonight before my lesson. Got home early from work, did some stretches and then shut my eyes and saw my lesson.

            I think it helped b/c I.....CANTERED!! It was only on one lead for one circuit of the arena, but that was my goal so I'm totally happy with that. My coach said something that made me exclain "Well, where should they be??" Meaning my legs so she came into the middle and showed me where they need to be and how it feels. Uh...okay facepalm...I've been doing the wrong thing with my legs! Doing the opposite of how I should be asking. My poor guy is such a saint! He must have been thinking wth lady? LOL! We also did trot poles at the end and I did them the best I've ever done (remembered to look up and keep my shoulders open...yay!)!!

            Now that I know how it feels, I hope to stick that in my mind and continue next week with it. It was still a little nerve wracking going faster than the trot, but I kept saying to myself, "You can do this, you won't die. Breathe. Leg."

            GotMyPony - probably right on some level about that! Part of me wants to canter and the other is saying "Um, nah, nothing wrong with a good trot. We know the trot. We like it!" I love that idea about watching him in another lesson. I'm going to ask her about that next time I'm out! Wonderful idea!

            ReSomething - that book is on Kobo! Excellent. I will purchase I agree so much about a good seat and two point. Even though I still get anxious, I have had times where he might trip or spook a tiny bit and I stay on and ride through it. Times where before I would have maybe come off and/or had my heart in my throat and yelped. Nice to know I have a bit of progress, eh?!

            So, yay! Wanted to share b/c you all really helped me. I shall let you know how next week goes. Before I left today, my boyfriend/hubby gave me a kiss on my forehead that I called a "Canter Kiss." Now that is mandatory before I leave...lol!

            I love this sport


            • #26
              AWESOME!!! Wow, what an inspirtation you are! You go, girlfriend! And a pat to Eddie!


              • #27
                WAHOO! Congrats!!

                Originally posted by FourFaults View Post
                Now that I know how it feels, I hope to stick that in my mind and continue next week with it. It was still a little nerve wracking going faster than the trot, but I kept saying to myself, "You can do this, you won't die. Breathe. Leg."
                ONLY POSITIVE self talk! If you say to yourself "you won't die" all your brain hears is DIE DIE DIE. Say "you will do wonderfully" or "you've got this" or "this is easy" instead


                • #28
                  Lots of canter kisses! LOL I'm so glad you had a good time, now remember, baby steps and it jsut gets better from here.
                  Courageous Weenie Eventer Wannabe
                  Incredible Invisible


                  • Original Poster

                    Thanks you guys! Next week, maybe both ways around lol! Even if it's a couple of strides, I'll take it.

                    And, yes....change "I won't die!" to "I've got this. You're fine. You're good!" Good idea simkie...incredible how those negative words and thoughts sneak in even when you are trying to be positive!



                    • #30
                      Congratulation!!! Horses really teach you how to face your fear and how to overcome it, don't they?


                      • #31
                        That is such a wonderful update! Congrats! You've got this!


                        • #32
                          You are inspiring me. I had a very minor fall -- 110% my own fault -- after getting overly confident, pushing my very steady horse to go faster and canter - against his better judgment, then I lost my seat, screamed whoa, he stopped instantly, I didn't . I completed my first cartwheel ever and severely sprained my stupid ankle when my whole body landed in a lump on top of it (didn't stick my landing). The look on my poor horse's face was classic and said, "this is NOT my fault. I knew this was a bad idea, which is why I didn't want to go faster, lady." . So, mine was NOT a serious injury at all -- just inconvenient as hell to be on crutches when I live UPSTAIRS. Then, I was only able to ride a handful of times (NOT cantering) before I got labrynthitis; which has given me tremendous anxiety.

                          Anyway, I just wanted to applaud and thank you for sharing your fears, challenges, and progress. And, I also wanted to recommend the longe line -- one of my instructors up in Virginia did a lot of work with me on the longe - including exercises where I would close my eyes and just focus on FEELING & BREATHING.

                          Thanks again for the inspiration!
                          Disclaimer: Just a beginner who knows nothing about nothing


                          • #33
                            Good job, OP! Cantering is FUN when you get comfortable with it!!

                            My mare is bouncy/powerful and feels like she leaps into the canter, so it took me awhile to get comfortable with the transition, especially at the trot. (My prior horses were a lot less complicated to canter, and didn't require me to get it right.)

                            Some things that helped me... Making sure the bend was right, with the horse on the outside rein (meaning, looking a little inside, with more feel on the outside rein, very soft inside rein). Bring the outside leg back and keep the inside leg at the girth. Squeeze the legs and scoop the hips at the same time. Don't collapse the upper body. Saying "canter" or clucking also helped until we were solid.

                            I agree with positive visualization. It helps with muscle memory. I had a bad habit of nervously clutching at the reins when things went south in the canter. This only made my mare nervous and had caused a scary fall and mild concussion. I mentally "practiced" a response when she got excited or she or I got unbalanced. In my head, I lowered my hands, softened, and sat up straight. And... When she tripped during a lesson and got high and strong, I lowered the reins, softened, and sat up straight! She calmed down, came right back to me, we swapped back to the correct lead, and we got on with work.
                            Born under a rock and owned by beasts!


                            • Original Poster

                              They sure do Gloria!

                              idaziens...wow...you are very welcome. I never thought I'd be inspiring to anyone...I'm usually so in awe and inspired by so many others on here. I'm happy that by sharing that it can help others. I will continue to share in this casae...one small canter stride for me, is one great ride for all of us!

                              And, ugh, labrynthitis...feel for you. I had that awhile back after getting an ear infection from flying home sick. Gross enough on its own never mind mixed with anything else.

                              Thanks ako...I'll try that too. Definitely can't hurt and maybe will help me get off his face. I know that doesn't make me safe, but try to tell that to my brain lol!



                              • #35
                                Another thing that might help, is go find a playground and a swing, and swing on it. You will need flexibility in your lower back, so that it works like a hinge when you are cantering. The way you move a suspended swing is by using that hinge area. As the front part of the horse rises slightly in the canter, your seat needs to be able to slide back a little in the saddle, and then you tuck your butt under on the next stride. If you can do that, and stay relaxed, that will keep you from bouncing. (I do not know if you do bounce, but quite often a tense and anxious rider will bounce, because of the muscular tension they usually have.)
                                RIP Sasha, best dog ever, pictured shortly before she died, Death either by euthanasia or natural causes is only the end of the animal inhabiting its body; I believe the spirit lives on.


                                • Original Poster

                                  A swing? Ha, that's great! I was actually trying to think of how to get more flexibility, especially for hips and lower back. I have a bad habit of being very tense from my desk job, being cold all the time and being a muscle clencher (I spent a whole summer in Austin and it felt SO nice to be able to relax b/c it was so lovely and hot there! lol). I think I can do one better than a park...we have a very treed yard so maybe my hubby can make a swing off one of our walnut tree's. That would just be cool & now purposeful!.

                                  My coach also suggested to us last week that we buy a ball (soccer was what she mentioned) and use it to build up our calf muscles by squeezing it. So, put that under my desk and just ignore the raised eyebrows.

                                  Tonight is lesson night...



                                  • Original Poster

                                    I must say, it's pretty amazing how different your results are when you ask the right way. Tuesday was my lesson, and not only did I canter, but I cantered in both directions for about a circle and a half of the arena (forgive me if that's not the right technical speak - going on a my 4th 14 hour day)! Yay! On my way by my coach on my second lap, she said "You're fine! You're ok, leg! Keep it going!" I imagine my face was probably like "omgomgomgomg!" I'm happy to report down one long side, I did feel him lose a bit of speed so I put more leg on - or maybe put them back where they were supposed to be lol - and we went around another half lap. SO pleased!

                                    When I left for the barn, I asked my hubby what my goal should be. 1) Canter longer on one lead, 2) Canter both ways, no matter how far, or 3) Do my trot poles just as well as I had the previous week? He replied with why not all. Whoa. Steady. Let's not get carried away! LOL! But, I did!

                                    I do enjoy it at it turns out, it will just be getting used to the rythmn now.

                                    Just wanted to let you all know.

                                    Hopefully...errr...no I WILL do a threpeat next week!

                                    Ride on everyone!



                                    • #38
                                      Good to hear you're making such progress.
                                      A helmet saved my life.

                                      2017 goal: learn to ride like TheHorseProblem, er, a barn rat!