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cuing the (which bend) for lope/canter

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  • cuing the (which bend) for lope/canter

    So I am an english rider but also have had many year of western training. Recently have been caught off gaurd by instructors (whom I am teaching for) asking for an outside bend for a lope. I understand this as "canting" but in theory, it is not a bend at all, it is just driving to the outside. My question being, do you actually bend to the outside to ask for the inside (correct) lead? Why is this being taugh? Canting in general is actually extremely unnatural and "lazy" way to teach a young horse but why are some instructors teaching begginner students to bend to the outside?

  • #2
    Probably because they do not know as much as they think they know?


    • #3
      You can cue for the canter two ways, with diagonal aids or lateral aids. Most hunt seat and dressage riders will cue with diagonal aids, outside leg, inside hand on the theory that having the horse on a correct bend will result in a correct lead. When you cue with lateral aids you are cueing based on the mechanics of the canter, that the outside hind leg is the first leg to step into the canter. So technically you should be asking for a slight haunches in prior to cueing for the canter, to set up that outside hind leg to take the lead. I've ridden with western trainers that will have you pratice at the walk switching the horse from "2 tracks" (walking in a straight line) to "3 tracks" (walking with the haunches in) and back to "2 tracks" again to practice controling the hindquarters. When you become proficient in cueing for the canter with lateral aids you will not have the horse noticably "canting" towards the outside, but in teaching beginners you will have to allow them to exagerate the motions to understand the process.

      It is a legitimate train of thought and method of training, even though it was not what you were initially taught. I am perfectly capable of cantering a horse either way, teach a colt to canter either way, and instructing either way depending on the circumstances. Don't let yourself get caught up in the "what I know is the only correct way" thing, open your mind. Perhaps take a lesson from the instructors you are teaching for so you have better understanding what the end result of their process is. And by all means teach their students on their horses the method that they use, it will be very counter productive for you to teach something else or for you to teach this method half-heartedly with the "I know better" arrogance to what you are saying.


      • #4
        What Renae said. It's always what I was taught, even among 'cowboys.

        That said, you can teach a horse pretty much any cues you want, inside leg, outside leg, tap the withers three times, whatever you want to make up. Mine will do a nice canter departure with just the 'kissing' sound in addition to the conventional outside leg/inside rein (if needed) approach- to clarify, mine achieve the desired 'takeoff' with just a tap of the outside leg but they learned with outside leg asking for those haunches to get ready, and supporting inside leg (and rein if necessary).

        But I've ridden many, many horses who were taught to 'lope' with inside leg cue- right leg, right lead. Half the battle on any 'unknown' horse is figuring out what they were taught to do instead of punishing them for what 'you' are asking versus what they think you are asking!


        • #5
          I guess I don't understand the question. Are you asking about just having the horse move the hip a little to the inside or an actual bending of the head and body to the outside? The hip canting inside is what I've been taught my entire life to ensure the correct lead. As my horse has progressed I just have to slide my outside leg back and off he goes on the correct lead. My young horse, not so much yet.

          As to actually bending to the outside, I have seen a lot of people do it in the past but not many in the last 10 years or so. My trainer would shoot me for even thinking about that. If anything, I'd ask for a very slight bend to the inside.


          • Original Poster

            Thanks renae... I totally understand haunches in (travers) but they literally ask for an outside bend from the poll to the shoulder. I am trying to figure out why because I AM open to "new" and alternative theories. What I have learned, works, but I want to learn more. Im wondering if this is something I need to learn and be able to execute or whether this is just bogus and they swear by it. It very much looks slopy and seems like the horse is misbehaving with his nose turned outside the ring like he doesnt know any better. I dont know what to do with this tid-bit.


            • #7
              For me, I'd disregard it entirely.


              • #8
                Originally posted by theqhlife View Post
                they literally ask for an outside bend from the poll to the shoulder. I am trying to figure out why because I AM open to "new" and alternative theories.
                Well, in the early 60s I suppose, before I'd had any real instruction, I would sort of ask the horse to put the head slightly to the outside via touch of the rein on the inside neck, and cue with outside leg. It's a bit easier to teach to beginner riders, too.

                But it's a real basic, and elementary, way to go. Okay for teaching kids at summer camp, perhaps. But I wouldn't personally hire or recommend anyone who taught that way, these days.


                • #9
                  First...I'm laughing at a little bit of ignorance...I have never posted anything negative on here...to say comments like 'cowboys' do not know anything is complete ignorance...
                  Personally, I have run across a lot of hunter barns who are 'riders' and not horseman..there is good & bad in all disciplines..

                  A lot of Western/Breed Barn...(breed barns meaning Quarter Horse, Paints, Apps.,etc..) feel the Hunter Horses are really not broke compared to the breed barns...A truly broke 'breed' horse can be ridden brideless and can do a showmanship pattern without a halter...can your hunters do that? Nevermind I know the answer..

                  Ok...SO, I'm off my soapbox

                  Having had several years of riding Hunters & Dressage...my truly love is the breeds I can help you answer...

                  a theory behind the hip in is that the horse's head is into the rail to keep the lope/canter s l o w!....I am not a supporter in that theory just what I have seen in breed barns
                  Until one has loved an animal, a part of one's soul remains unawakend. ~Anatole France~


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by My3Sons View Post
                    First...I'm laughing at a little bit of ignorance...I have never posted anything negative on here...to say comments like 'cowboys' do not know anything is complete ignorance...
                    You could be new in these parts and thus have missed many threads on the subject.

                    My reference was very much tongue in cheek.


                    • #11
                      I was taught that the purpose of the outside rein/outside leg was to shift the horse's weight to make it easier to go into the correct lead -- ie, shifting his body weight to the outside hip makes it easier for him to throw that inner forearm as Renae stated. You don't have to drag his head around to a 45 degree angle to the wall -- tip his nose just a smidge from center and give the cue.

                      You can still get a very correct slow collected canter (and not the four beat canterlope crap either) -- once you get a feel for placement of the legs, rocking more weight on the opposite seat bone from the lead you want in combination with the cue to the outer hind leg is all it takes.


                      • #12
                        More recently (last 20 years) I've been taught to use the outside leg slightly behind the girth, the inside leg for support and if you did tip the head, it should be in the direction the horse it going (towards the inside). Technically, you tip the horse's head in the direction he is going so he can see where he is going.

                        Forty five years ago I was taught to tip the head towards the outside which I believe is incorrect and not used as much now. It's odd to have the horse looking away from where is is going.


                        • #13
                          Ok two things

                          1. the method described by the OP was a trick used about a decade ago. With the horses head to the wall and haunches swung in it made the lope APPEAR slower than it actually was. The horse traveled side way and covered less ground.

                          2. While everyone is arguing semantics it seems everyone is arguing the same theory just in different ways. Everyone agrees that the haunches should be slightly in and you should lighten the inside fore. It's just how you all go about it that makes it different.

                          While a western person is saying that the hunter horses are not well and truly broke a Dressage rider will come on telling you all that your not asking for haunches in correctly or have proper collection. Saying one discipline is superior to others is a VERY slippery slope. It's perfectly ok to state you prefer one over the other but be careful about throwing each other under the bus.

                          That said, to the person saying that hunter horses can't do Showmanship without a halter and ride bridle-less etc I will tell you this, don't lump everyone together. There will always be the person who says you are wrong. Not only can my horse do halter-less showmanship and JUMP a course with no bridle, but my students are learning to as well. In fact the first filly I ever broke out was able to jump a 2' course bridle-less with in weeks of learning to jump. I have done breed ( with several hard earned year-end belt buckles to my name) I have done ( and trained) dressage, I currently do Hunters, Jumpers, and Equitation. I can tell you that NONE are mutually exclusive to each other. I use skills I learned for all of it. That is why I can take a student who has only done Hunter and Equitation and I can teach her to ride and Equitation and Showmanship patterns in ONE day and she places among girls who have spent their entire lives doing it.


                          • #14
                            The first canter or lope step is with the outside hind leg, so you need to ask the horse to step and push with that leg, no matter which lead you are asking for. Your inside hand may ask for a little LIFT of the inside shoulder, which enables the horse to softly reach forward with that inside shoulder. Correctly done, the horse remains straight and does not rush into it. Flying changes should be done on a straight line as well.

                            To me, canting means the horse cannot be trusted to pick up the correct lead on a straight line, and it should be a fault of gait if the horse goes around the ring with the hind end not following directly in the track of the front end. Having said that, I TOTALLY cant my horses to get the counter canter while on the rail because the rail seems to exert enough pressure on them mentally that they will pick up the inside lead even though I am cuing for the outside lead. Once I get the counter canter, I get them straight. But it's a difficult maneuver at the beginning.
                            Man plans. God laughs.


                            • #15
                              The whole turning the horse to the rail to force them to take the correct lead is wildly popular in the Morgan saddleseat division. It's just laziness rather than teaching a horse correctly. How will you ever get the correct lead if you don't have a rail/corner to force a horse into???? Drives me absolutely batty when I see it!!!


                              • #16
                                Wish there was a 'like' button!

                                Originally posted by 49'er View Post
                                Probably because they do not know as much as they think they know?
                                Ride like you mean it.